2015 World Junior Championships Quarterfinals Preview

2 of 2

Nov 24, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins left wing David Pastrnak (88), playing in his first NHL game, looks to take a shot during the third period of the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterfinal 2 – (2B) Czech Republic vs. (3A) Slovakia

The Czech Republic finished second in a group that saw one point separate four different teams. Like everyone else in the group, they lost to Sweden and followed up with a disappointing effort against Switzerland. They saved their tournament by beating Denmark in overtime and taking care of Russia in the final game. David Pastrnak is the clear team leader in points with one goal and six assists. The 2014 1st-round selection by the Boston Bruins has 27 points in 23 games with the Providence Bruins, as well as an assist in 5 games with the NHL squad.

Slovakia finished 2-0-0-2 with wins against Germany and Finland. Martin Reway has been the biggest contributors for the Slovakians with three goals and two assists. The 2013 4th-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens has been spending his time in the Czech league this season.

This should be an interesting contest between two teams that had about the same luck in the group stage. The winner of this game will (likely) play Canada and have a tough task ahead of them. Slovakia had a tough time cracking a Top-2 spot, but finished behind USA and Canada. The Czech Republic came up with a huge win against Russia in their final game, but couldn’t differentiate themselves in a group that finished about even outside of Sweden. I think this game goes into overtime with Slovakia gaining the result in the overtime period.

Prediction: Slovakia

Quarterfinal 3 – (1B) Sweden vs. (4A) Finland

Even though rosters rotate in and out rather regularly in the World Junior Championships, you can bet Sweden wants to win this game against Finland for more than just getting to the Semifinals: retribution. Last year, Finland pulled the rug out from under Sweden in the finals to spoil the hometown tournament victory. This year, Sweden has co-leaders in points at 7. Oskar Lindblom (PHI) and William Nylander (TOR) have three goals, 4 assists and two goals, five assists, respectively. Linus Soderstrom (NYI) has played extremely well with a .948 save percentage in goal. Sweden swept aside their competition rather easily with the only close result coming against Russia (3-2).

Finland only scored five goals in four games but also only gave up 8. Mikko Rantanen scored three of their five goals and has a bright future in this competition at only 18 years old. Rantanen will likely go in the first round of the upcoming NHL Draft, but likely in the later picks of the round. Finland’s only win came against the incredibly weak Germany in their final game of the group stage.

Sweden was dangerous last season with Filip Forsberg at the helm and continue to be dangerous this year in a clearly weaker group than Group A. This Finland squad is clearly not the same as the one that won last year’s tournament, but have a very bright future with the likes of Rantanen. Luckily for them, they didn’t fall into the relegation round due to Germany’s poor play.

Prediction: Sweden

Quarterfinal 4 – (2A) United States vs. (3B) Russia

Live Feed

Columbus Blue Jackets: What Should We Expect from Adam Fantilli?
Columbus Blue Jackets: What Should We Expect from Adam Fantilli? /

Union and Blue

  • NHL 24: Five stars who would make the perfect cover athlete App Trigger
  • No, the Golden Knights didn't 'con' the Buffalo Sabres Sabre Noise
  • Local media station claims Buffalo Sabres are losing Jack Eichel trade Sabre Noise
  • Buffalo Sabres Fans: Don't be irked over former players winning Cups Sabre Noise
  • The Vegas Golden Knights are truly a special organization Puck Prose
  • These two countries just love to play each other. It seems that every time there is a tournament in international sports, especially hockey, they play. For as many eyes were on Connor McDavid, the same amount of eyes were on Jack Eichel. Just as McDavid, Eichel hasn’t dazzled with his numbers with one goal and two assists. Dylan Larkin, on the other hand, has put up a staggering five goals and two assists. The Red Wings’ first-rounder in 2014 recently started his freshman season with the University of Michigan. Devils prospect Miles Wood has played in all four games and has reportedly looked good, but has not recorded a point.

    Russia has spread their points out among a lot of their players. They were one of two teams to finish in positive goal differential, although their 7-0 win over Switzerland may be the only reason why. Vyacheslav Leschenko, Pavel Buchnevich (NYR) and Ivan Barbashev (STL) lead the team in points with 4, while a tough Russian defense only allowed nine goals in the competition. Russia’s struggle against Denmark in the opener, along with losing their final game to the Czech Republic sandwiched their win against Switzerland and a loss to Sweden.

    I think Team USA will come away with this one. If there was any team to be upset in the Quarterfinals, I think Team USA has the best shot of losing. I wouldn’t call either Czech Republic or Slovakia a favorite in that game and I believe that Canada and Sweden are too strong for their opponents. While I am fairly confident in the United States winning this one, Russia has the best chance to record an upset in the Quarterfinals.

    Next: 2014 In Review: Marty, DeBoer, Gomez, Oh My!