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. Tuesday, December 29th is Day Five of the tournament. In the middle game of the day, we see Canada back in action against Switzerland.
2021 World Junior Championship Predictions
Canada vs. Switzerland
Canada goes into its game against Switzerland with style. Having blown out the Germans in game one and just edging out Slovakia, this is just another game for the defending gold medalists. For their opponents, however, this is another tough matchup in the group stages of the tournament. This game is shaped up to be another tally in the wins column for the Canadians. However, let’s take a closer look at this game to see where the difference lies.
Over their last two games, Canada has lived up to the hype at the 2021 World Junio Championship. With 19 goals for and only 3 goals against, there have been little to no flaws in the Canadians game. The scoring is led by Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens. In two games he has three goals and four assists for seven total points. Canada currently leads the tournament in scoring efficiency and is in the top half for save percentage as well. In terms of playing, this roster is showing what a team of 20, now 19 first-round picks can do at one of the higher levels of competition hockey has to offer. Similarly, there has been great production all across the board. In their first game, Dawson Mercer was on the ice for just under 12 minutes but put up four points in that time. Teammates Alex Newhook, Connor McMichael, and Payton Krebs all have three points in two games so far.
The blue line has been solid, too. Stopping rushed before they happen hasn’t been a problem for them. Keeping pucks in the offensive end in order to keep play moving has been a trend, too. Add in the fact that some of the defence has been creating countless zone entries, and this has been a dynamic performance for these Canadian defencemen. Colorado Avalanche prospects, Bowen Byram and Justin Barron both lead the defence in points with two each, all of them assists.
Goaltending has been no problem. Florida Panthers prospect Devon Levi has been a brick wall for the team, posting a shutout and stopping almost anything thrown his way. With a save percentage of .925, there doesn’t seem to be much any team can do to slip a goal past him.
The Swiss offence has been a little dormant since the start of the tournament. They’ve only scored one goal so far, courtesy of Attilio Biasca, 2021 draft-eligible forward. In terms of overall production, the team ranks ninth in the tournament. Their powerplay is 8th best in the tournament, scoring their lone goal on the man advantage against Finland. In order for this team to have a chance at cracking the Canadian’s defence, they’re going to need a full showing of all four lines of forwards all playing their most aggressive offence.
The team’s defence has also been sub-par through two games. They’ve allowed a total of 71 shots on their goalie. That number will go up against Canada. Despite this, their netminders have bailed out the defence too many times, only giving up five goals. There have been no scoring from any of the Swiss defenders, which was expected of this team. They’re at a huge disadvantage going into this game against the dominant Canadian attack, so containing their top scoring threats rather than stopping total chances will be the key to defensive success for the Swiss
This has been the only bright spot for the Swiss this tournament so far. They rank second in overall save percentage, which is led by Thibeault Fatton. Fatton plays for the U20 Lugano of the U20 Swiss league and has a 9-3-0 record in 15 appearances, a decent 2.42 goals-against-average, and 1 shut out this season. If there is any chance at winning this game, it will stem from the remarkable play of Fatton behind his team’s mediocre defensive play.
Canada is the favourite to win this game, and rightfully so. They were able to, rather easily, handle their first two opponents and this one should be no different. Switzerland is just another hurdle in the Canadians’ way of the knock-out stages of the tournament. Switzerland will compete, but ultimately will fall short as others before them and add a tally to their losses column in the standings
Prediction: Canda 8 Switzerland 1
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