2022 World Junior Championships Predictions: Finland vs. Czechia

2022 World Junior Championships
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The 2022 World Junior Championships continue as we head into day three of the tournament. The first three days had high flying, very offence-oriented games. Wednesday, December 29th has Team Finland facing off against Team Czechia in Group A. It’s the first of four games on deck for the day. After just one game on Tuesday due to COVID-19 cases with Team USA, the schedule is back to a full slate.

2022 World Junior Championships Predictions

Finland vs. Czechia

Finland has had a strong opening to the tournament thus far, winning both their games so far. They currently sit at the top of Group A with two wins coming over Team Austria and Team Germany. Team Finland has shown their offensive prowess through their games so far, outscoring their opponents 10-2. Team Finland is a strong contender to win the entire group and tournament, and they could continue their warpath against Team Czechia.

On the opposite end, Team Czechia is in the complete inverse scenario, starting the tournament 0-0-1-1.  While they have lost both games so far, the first game against Canada showed Czechia’s potential with a strong start in the first period. Similarly, Czechia outshot their opponent, Team Germany, despite losing eventually in overtime.

Team Finland

Finland is led by 2022 draft-eligible Brad Lambert, who leads the team and is among the tournament’s top players in scoring with a goal and four assists. The team and tournament scoring is followed closely by Los Angeles Kings prospect Samuel Helenius and Carolina Hurricanes prospect Ville Koivunen who have two goals and two assists apiece. Team Finland also has strong options on defence, such as Topi Niemela (Toronto Maple Leafs), who headlines the blueline.

Finland also has strong options in net. Leevi Merilainen and Juha Jatkola have only allowed a single goal each. They also have the option to go with Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Joel Blomqvist, who has had a strong season thus far with Karpat. He’s posted a 0.964 through his first eight games. Every option seems to provide a good answer for Finland. They have the opportunity to play behind a very strong team and will prove to be a tough opponent for any team, including Czechia.

Team Czechia

Team Czechia’s record so far maybe unfairly portrays the teams as worse than they are so far. While they may be 0-0-1-1, they have faced one of the toughest teams in the tournament and lost a game in overtime where they out-chanced their opponent. Team Czechia has strong forwards such as Jan Mysak of the Montreal Canadiens, Pavel Novak of the Minnesota Wild and defender Stanislav Svozil of the Columbus Blue Jackets. While their team is maybe better than their record suggests, they won’t get any breaks against a team like Finland.

Their goaltenders can also help aid them. Despite coming off a 6-3 loss, Jakub Malek of the New Jersey Devils has been posting strong numbers in the Czechia 2 league with a 0.936 so far this season. Jan Bednar also provides stability, as he helped Czechia earn a point against Germany, posting a 0.938 in his only game so far. Either goalie can provide Team Czechia with a chance.

Predictions

Team Czechia has strong players on their roster, however, it is not quite the level of Finland. Team Finland has numerous elite-level players playing on their roster, on forward and defence. They can out depth Czechia and run more consistent lines. Not all hope is gone for Czechia, though. They can make a competitive game of it if the aforementioned players rise to the occasion and give Czechia a chance.

Prediction: Team Finland wins 5-2 over Team Czechia

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