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. Monday, December 28th is Day Four of the tournament and features Austria vs Sweden.
2021 World Junior Championship Predictions
Austria vs. Sweden
Both teams played their first games of the tournament two days ago, with very different results. The Austrians got crushed 11-0 by the United States, and Sweden defeated the Czech Republic 7-1. Both countries have different goals for the tournament. The Swedes are trying to win gold, while the Austrians are trying not to finish last. Sweden is almost guaranteed to win. Austria is in a difficult division with America, Sweden, Russia and the Czech Republic. They are expected to win none of those games and their tournament really begins during the round to determine the final few seeds, because they don’t want to finish last. This is another game to prepare them for that.
Even though the odds are against them to win, Austria will be looking for a better effort than their game against the Americans. The U.S. outshot them 73-10. For perspective, in Canada’s 16-2 thrashing of the exhausted Germans, they outshot Germany 44-15. The Austrians should make adjustments to make sure they don’t get outplayed as badly.
Surprisingly, Austrian goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz was good even though he let in 10 goals. He faced 68 shots and stopped 58 of them. He left the game at the end because of cramps, probably showing how tired he was. If he can face a reasonable amount of shots and scoring chances, he could keep the score lower against the Swedes. The 18-year-old Wraneschitz plays in Austria’s top league and has a 2.03 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage. He is a good goalie and he received praise from former Columbus Blue Jackets star, and former Team USA player, Zach Werenski.
👏👏 for the team Austria goalie…68 shots, 58 saves in 50 minutes, insane.
— Zach Werenski (@ZachWerenski) December 27, 2020
The Austrians need more out of their star player, Marco Rossi. Rossi is the ninth overall pick in the 2020 draft and led the Canadian Hockey League in scoring last year. He was tied with the team lead of two shots against America but that’s not going to be good enough if he doesn’t want to be shut out during the first two games of the tournament. Another player who has to step up offensively is Senna Peeters. Peeters scored 23 goals for the Halifax Mooseheads last year and has six goals in seven games with Rogle Jrs. in Sweden this year. He didn’t register a shot two days ago. That has to change in this game.
The Swedes played a strong opening game against the Czech Republic. They outshot them 45-25 and won 7-1. They will be looking to continue their positive momentum against the Austrians.
When the Austrians played the United States, it was America’s star players that did most of the damage. Simply because they are so much better than their competition. Judging by that, this is a game where Sweden’s offensive starts could shine. Top ten picks in the 2020 draft, Alexander Holtz and Lucas Raymond combined for one point against the Czechs, they will be looking to score. They are both elite offensive players.
Edler Soderblom is another player to keep an eye on. He had a strong first game with two goals and five shots. Including a beautiful between the legs goal. Soderblom is 6′-8″ and only three of Austria’s eight defencemen are above 6′-0″. Chances are Soderblom will see a lot of Austria’s 6′-4″ defenceman Philipp Wimmer, but if Soderblom gets out against smaller defencemen, he can bully them.
I mentioned Rossi and Peeters should try to generate more offence against the Swedes. However, that will be difficult against their defence. Swedish captain Philip Broberg, Victor Soderstrom, and Tobias Bjornfot are all Swedish defencemen picked in the first round of the NHL draft. Rossi and Peeters don’t have a better chance to create offence against Sweden than the United States. All of those defencemen can move the puck up the ice and make it difficult for Austria to get any sustained pressure.
Sweden is a powerhouse. Their round-robin winning streak is alive and well at 53 wins. It will take a dramatic collapse for them to not get win 54 against Austria. They have too much talent in all positions to lose. Austria should have a better idea of how to play a top team and will hopefully be better.
Prediction: 8-1 win for Sweden.
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