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GAME DAY OPEN THREAD: IIHF 2020 World U20 FINALS: CANADA vs RUSSIA

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New decade, old rivalry. Canada can have revenge and gold with a win over Russia in today’s IIHF World U20 Championship Final.

Russia v Canada - 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images

It was the only blemish on their tournament run, but man was it ugly. A 6-0 shellacking at the hands of their rivals, where the Russians took full advantage of a Canadian team that stumbled, then lost its best player. They also chirped and shit talked their way through the game, and afterwards. Revenge is coming, and it’s going to be sweet.

If the Russians try and say they’re not worried, they’re lying. All one would have to do is look to yesterday’s game against Finland, another game that was built by a sense of revenge for last year, after the Canadians fell in the Quarters on home ice to the Finns. Canada came out and dismantled one of the best defensive squads in the first 5 minutes of the game, and never gave the Finns a sniff after that.

If there’s a potential flaw in Canada’s storyline it’s whether or not Barrett Hayton will be ready to go today. The Canadian captain left yesterday’s game with an arm injury after he was taken down on a play and ridden into the boards hard by a Finnish player. He’ll be a game time decision, as Dale Hunter and the medical staff determine if he’s healthy enough to go. They’re still a solid team, but you know they want their leading scorer to be in the lineup for this one.

The big story for Canada’s turn around following the loss to Russia has been Joel Hofer. The Portland Winterhawks goalie has been simply outstanding since coming in to replace Nico Daws in the 2nd period of that loss and hasn’t given anyone concern Daws should get his crease back. Hofer’s put up a 1.30 GAA and 94.55 sv % in 4 straight wins since coming on in relief to be hands down the best goaltender in the tournament.

This game could be won or lost the way Canada has controlled a lot of their games in this tournament: by making the Russians pay for taking penalties. The Canadian power play is running at a jaw-dropping 44.44% clip heading into today’s contest, and they’ll need to do what they couldn’t in the previous meeting against the Russians. And Canada’s penalty killing will need to be better today. It’s going to be an emotionally charged game, and there will be penalties to both teams, so they need to make sure that they’re not giving up goals on the PK today. It’s been their weak spot in this tournament so far.

As Canucks fans, we’ll be keeping an eye on Vasili Podkolzin, naturally. The Vancouver prospect had two assists in yesterday’s semifinal win over Sweden, including a primary assist on the OT winner. And while we all want the best for our kids, today I am hoping for a soul-crushing loss for him and his comrades. After all, what better way to prepare him for his future as a Canuck than a loss in the big game, right?

They said they’re better. They said they have a team full of players as good as Alexis Lafreniere. Time to show them yet again that this is our game. Go Canada Go!