While Finland and Latvia are currently doing battle in the best-of-three relegation round, the IIHF 2017 World Junior Championship's other participants are set to face off, single game elimination style.
In no small part due to Finland's collapse, Denmark finished a surprisingly strong second in Group A, with a 1-1-1-1 record. But barring a major upset which is perfectly capable of happening in this format, their tournament will likely end today against a 2-0-0-2 Russian squad. Though Russia may have been third in Group B, they're certainly closer to USA and Canada than they are Denmark.
If you were seeding top teams in WJC based on play thus far, as well as on paper talent, it's: 1. Sweden. 2. USA. 3. Canada. 4. Russia.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) January 2, 2017
Team USA is coming off a triumphant 3-1 win on New Year's Eve, one in which the Americans' power play quickly put Canada behind the eight ball in the first period. Colin White's play must have Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion salivating, while the Arizona Coyotes will have to hold Alexander Burmistrov close as they wait for Clayton Keller. Of course, they shouldn't take Switzerland for granted, who are a perennial thorn in the side.
After 4 prem gms, few players sure looking for more:— Russ Bitely (@russbites) January 2, 2017
Roslovic/Kunin (USA) 2As
Jost (CAN) 1-1-2
Necas (CZE) 1-1-2
Sergachyov (RUS) 1A
Michael Spacek's Czech Republic side are going to have their hands full tonight, taking on a Team Canada squad still smarting from their loss to the Americans. Not-Winnipeg Jets prospect Kale Clague (LAK) seems set to replace the injured Philippe Myers (PHI) on the top-pairing alongside Thomas Chabot (OTT), while line changes abound up front in an attempt to spur greater 5v5 production.
If the Czechs are to have any shot, they'll likely need one of Daniel Vladar (BOS) or Jakub Skarek to stand on their head and steal the show. Speaking of goaltenders, with both Canadian netminders putting in no better than adequate performances, it'll be interesting to see whether Connor Ingram (TBL) or Carter Hart (PHI) gets the nod.
UPDATE: Connor Ingram will start in goal.
Ingram with the breakaway glove save pic.twitter.com/oPEMRyGVSW— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 31, 2016
Game 1: Denmark vs. Russia
Game 2: Sweden vs. Slovakia
Game 3: USA vs. Switzerland