While there aren’t usually many NHL games that would distract from this if the season was running normally, there’s no other games that will draw attention from two huge contests tonight at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Edmonton.
The marquee match has two undefeated Group A teams battling for the top spot, as Canada take on Finland at 3pm PST/ 6pm EST on TSN. Canada has steamrolled its way through Group A action so far, outscoring their opponents 29-3. Finland stayed undefeated with a 6-0 shellacking of Slovakia yesterday, setting up tonight’s battle.
The big story tonight will be in goal, as both teams have gotten outstanding goaltending so far this tournament. Finland will likely go with Kari Piiroinen, who has been in for two of the Finns three wins so far, but Roope Taponen allowed just one goal on 13 shots in his appearance for Team Finland. Canada will once again go with Devon Levi, who has been stellar so far, sporting a 0.75 GAA and .953 save percentage. Levi has gone the distance apart from being rested in the blowout game against Germany, where backup Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers finished out the contest.
Offensively, Finland’s been led by Anton Lindell and Tomi Niemela, while Canada’s gotten big games from Dylan Cozens and Quinton Byfield. Expect a tight checking, physical battle in this game between two teams that are developing quite a rivalry over the last few years as the Finns have continued to produce quality teams for this tournament.
The other big match tonight has Sweden and the US going head to head for Group B supremacy. Sweden’s incredible run of preliminary round wins in the WJC came to an end last night as Russia defeated them in overtime by a score of 4-3. The last preliminary round loss for the Swedes came exactly 14 years ago, a run of 54 games. Canucks prospect Arvid Costmar scored for Sweden in that loss.
There was one other game yesterday, and it turned out to be a big one as Germany defeated Switzerland 5-4 to advance to the quarter finals for the first time. Tim Stuetzle was an absolute beast, with a 2 goal 3 assist performance, and Buffalo draft pick John-Jason Peterka had a hat trick for the Germans. We’ll know all the quarter final matchups once the smoke clears tonight, but it should make for a nice bit of entertainment since you’re home and not doing something silly like going out to a bar or party, right?
And in other news, there was a bombshell free agent signing yesterday in the NHL, as Zdeno Chara inked a one year deal with the Washington Capitals. Chara spent 14 years with the Bruins, and well... we don’t need to talk about anything else he accomplished, do we?