Welcome to our 2023 World Junior Championship predictions. We’ll take an in-depth look at each game taking place in the Canadian Maritimes. These looks will happen for each game until the gold-medal game. We’ll try to give you the information you need to get an edge. We take a look at the Quarterfinal matchup between Finland and Sweden. Be sure to check out the other games for today.
2023 World Junior Championship Predictions
Finland vs Sweden
The fellow Nordic Country rivals will go head-to-head on elimination Monday. The hockey rivalry between Finland and Sweden has existed for a long time. This shapes up to be a tightly contested matchup that will likely go down to the wire. Coming into the tournament Sweden was likely pegged as the better of the two squads. However, upon the conclusion of the round-robin action, Finland finds itself as the two seed from group B, whereas Sweden finished third in group A.
It appears that Finland is lucky to find itself in a position of advantage at this stage. This can be largely attributed to the outstanding play from netminder Jani Lampinen. He boasts an amazing .964 SV% along with two wins. Perhaps the head coach knew what he was doing when he benched up against the USA in a 6-2 losing effort. Lampinen is an undrafted prospect, currently applying his trade in the second-highest Finnish men’s division, the Mestis with Kiekko-Espoo.
If Finland is to find some success, they are going to have to rely on their offensive figures. One aspect of their offence that is atypical for their team, is the lack of known offensive defencemen. However, they have contributed enough to be successful, with each Otto Salin (Los Angeles Kings) and Kalle Ervasti picking up three assists through four games. Up front, Sami Paivarinta leads the attack with one goal and three assists. Team Finland is hoping to get a spark from a player like highly touted prospect Joakim Kemell (Nashville Predators). Kemell is a game-breaker and has contributed two goals and one assist through the round-robin. Finally, a player everyone, including his NHL team, the Winnipeg Jets, would love Brad Lambert to get going. This is Lambert’s third World Junior tournament and has only contributed one goal.
Sweden has had an unconventional ride through the tournament. On the one hand, they have two shutouts, and the tournament’s best team penalty kill (93.3%) and save percentage (.942). In contrast, they were lucky to get overtime against Czechia and were blown out 5-1 by Canada. Although with this in mind, with sharp their goaltending, and the energy likely to be provided with playing a rival, they should be tough to play against.
In terms of players to lead their offence, so far Filip Bystedt leads with five points. Moreover, they do have a forward who is a potential top-three pick in the upcoming NHL draft. Leo Carlsson is that prospect has two assists in the tournament but could strike at any moment. On the other hand, Boston Bruins prospect, Fabian Lysell is yet to record a point. He is nearly a point-a-game player with Providence of the AHL this season. So, although they do have a few players who have a good tournament from an offensive standpoint, that was handicapped by their 11-0 victory against the Austrians.
Despite the possibility of this being a defensive and systematic struggle, each team will dig deep to beat their rivals. Both teams have strong goaltending. Also, they each have weak power plays to this point. Finland is 2 for 11 while Sweden is 2 for 16. This will likely be a case of whose offensive stars can be most opportunistic. Off a broken play, look for a quick strike from one of the offensive stars, like Kemell or Lysell.
Predictions: Sweden wins 3-2.