Welcome to the 2021 World Junior Championship predictions. Each day, Last Word on Hockey will take a look at each game and give our predictions of the results. Saturday, December 26th is Day Two of the tournament and features a Canada vs Germany matchup.
2021 World Junior Championship Prediction
Canada vs. Germany
Germany is entering this Boxing Day game coming off of an absolute beat down by Finland. It may have been only a two goal game, but Finland was skating circles around the top-heavy German side. Canada, on the other hand, is going into this game with fresh legs. This is their first game of the tournament, excluding their pre-tournament game against Russia on December 23. This matchup between these Group A teams sees two, almost, completely opposite teams face-off for the second game of the day. Canada is going into this game with both no pressure and all of the pressure. Even after team captain Kirby Dach broke his wrist in the pre-tournament game, they still have 19 first round picks in their lineup. On the other hand, Germany is coming into this game having played a very good Finnish team. Even with the loss, they still showed a decent amount of skill and ability that gives them some hope for this matchup against a top team in the tournament.
They enter the tournament looking to repeat the outcome of last year’s: winning the gold medal. With 20 first round picks throughout the line up, one can assume the pressure that has been put on this team. Lead by WHL standout and Dylan Cozens as an assistant captain, this team is absolutely stacked. In one of the team’s final practices before pre-tournament play they had second overall pick, Quinton Byfield, on line four! That’s not all, the team has talent riddled all over the lineup. Elite OHL goalscorer Jack Quinn is making his first appearance at the tournament. He’s likely to a play big role in jumpstarting the Canadian offence early on. Winnipeg Ice Captain Peyton Krebs will look to repeat similar success to his 2019 U18 World Juniors appearance. His passing game will surely cause problems for the mediocre German defence in this game. Add in a list of highly talented and notable forwards, Ryan Suzuki, Cole Perfetti, and Dylan Holloway to name a few, and this team should have minimal trouble creating offensive chances.
Looking at the blue line and you’ll see just as talented as a group of guys. Bowen Byram was a fourth overall pick in last season’s draft and is set to provide some tournament veteran skill to the lineup. Ottawa Senators draft pick Jamie Drysdale is making his return to the tournament as well. This time around, however, he has a lot more to improve on from last year. Being a more offensive defender, his point production should come up from last year’s three points. That isn’t to say that is all he’s good for, however. His ability to shut down a play will be crucial in stopping Germany’s dynamic top line. Top draft defenceman Kaiden Guhle has an insanely skilled transition game and is able to stop a rush right before it enters his own end with ease.
Between the pipes might be the team’s one weak spot, and even then it isn’t that weak of an area. Devon Levi got the nod during the pre-tournament game and didn’t disappoint. He posted a shut-out in their game against a very strong Russian team, stopping all 23 shots he faced. Levi, a prospect of the Florida Panthers, will be playing this season for Northeastern of the NCAA. Last season in the CCHL he put up an incredible 1.47 goals-against-average and .941 save percentage with 8 shutouts. His goaltending partners, Dylan Garand and Talyer Gauthier, are great options in net too. Last year for Kamloops of the WHL, Garand put up a modest .921 save percentage and 2.21 goals-against-average in 42 games for the team. Gauthier, a member of the Prince George Cougars, put up similar numbers in 50 games last season. Regardless of who is in net, the team will have confidence in any of them.
Due to the team’s situation around a slight outbreak of COVID-19, the offence is missing some guys. Lead by third overall pick, Tim Stutzle, this German offence is the team’s highlight. Outside of Stutzle their isn’t all that much to be excited about. Last tournament’s forward group had German standout Lucas Reichel and some more, it seems to be a one-man forward group. The game against Finland definitely showed gaps in the team’s ability. Putting up a measly 22 shots to Finland’s 50. They aren’t creating enough chances for themselves and when they do, they aren’t able to capitalize. In the game against Finland, teammate Florian Elias put up two points for himself – a goal and an assist in his 20 minutes on the ice. If the team want’s to have a shot against Canada, they’ll need to piece together their offensive game more than they did on Christmas.
The defence isn’t looking too hot for the Germans either. The German player of the game against Finland was defenceman Mario Zimmerman. With his name missing from any scoring plays, he was the lone bright spot for the German blue line the whole game against the Finns. Aside from him, they were letting up high-dance chance after high-danger chance left and right, leaving their goaltender out to dry on numerous occasions. They allowed seamless entry into their own end and missed many defensive marks to add to their predicament. Similar to their forwards play, the blue line can’t play how they did against Finland in order to have a shot against the Canadians. It will be a new game with a fresh mind, and this might help their case.
There German’s goaltending this tournament is lead by Arno Tiefensee who plays for Adler Mannheim of the German professional league. He isn’t a bad goaltender by any means, but he is likely extremely tired from the game he had on Christmas. Facing 50 shots and stopping 45 of them is not an easy feat to accomplish. Unless by some feat of human strength, he will likely not get the nod against Canada. That leaves it up to two goalies, Florian Bugl and Jonas Gahr, to lead the team in the crease for this game. Bugl has preformed well in the Austrian juniors league and is defiantly the better of the two, so expect him to play for this game. His on the shorter side for goaltenders at 6 feet tall, but his athleticism makes up for it.
Canada is at the 2021 World Junior Championship to make a statement and playing a fatigued German team will help them do that. Germany doesn’t have too much room to beat this powerhouse of a Canadian side, however crazier things have happened in 2020. Expect the Canadians to be applying pressure early in the game and ultimately use that momentum to take their first win of the tournament.
Prediction: Canada wins 5-1.