It’s the fourth and final Group A game for Russia and Canada on New Year’s Eve, with both teams widely expected to have already qualified for the quarter-final stage of the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships 2018-19 prior to this meeting at the Rogers Arena.
In effect, this game could potentially decide who tops the group and, in theory at least, gets the easier draw in the knockout stages.
In preparation for the finals, Russia played three international friendlies with mixed results just prior to the start of the tournament. A 4-2 loss to Sweden was followed by a 3-2 defeat against the USA, but the Russians ended their preparations with a 4-1 win against Switzerland.
In the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships 2017-18, the Russians were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by the host nation, the USA, 4-2, having finished third in their qualifying group behind Sweden and the Czech Republic. There’s not a great deal to suggest that they have improved sufficiently to unduly trouble the Canadians on their home-ice here.
Canada’s preparations looked to be on track, with 5-3 and 6-1 wins over Switzerland and Slovakia respectively, but a 5-2 loss to Finland just before Christmas will have raised some question marks going into the tournament, with Head coach Tim Hunter’s team being outplayed and well beaten by impressive opponents. They started the finals superbly though, with a 14-0 rout of Denmark on Boxing Day!
That loss to Finland might prove to be a useful wake-up call for Canada and they will be widely predicted to not only beat Russia, but to top Group A. With Russia looking to be a level below the main challengers for the tournament, this is a game that Canada should win and they are the tips to do so on the Money Line odds.
Pick: Money Line – Canada