Canada and the USA will clash in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship finals on Tuesday. Four years ago, the Americans beat the northern neighbors, following a shootout, in one of the most dramatic international matches seen in the past few years. Will it be equally exciting this time, nobody can tell, but most of the fans expect to see a close battle.
The hosts of the tournament dismantled Russia in the semifinals like nobody before them. The Habs trashed the big rivals 5-0, and even though the Russians didn’t have their strongest team available, the result was pretty much sensational.
Canadian goalie Devon Levi.
He's stopped 115 out of 118 shots through 6 games at the tournament. That's a 97.46 save percentage. Three shutouts.
— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) January 5, 2021
Devon Levi, Canada’s goalie, and Florida Panthers’ prospect kept his net intact three times in the previous four matches. Dylan Cozens had one goal and two assists, but the Buffalo Sabres teenager still leads tops the goalscorer’s list, with 8 hits. He and Trevor Zegras have 16 points so far and are battling for first place in this category as well.
The Canadians have a super-powerful attack that generated 41 goals in six matches, while on the other side, the defensive unit allowed just four.
After an opening defeat against the Russians, Nate Leaman’s boys bounced back, founding a sense of urgency, eventually reaching the finals. They had an extremely tough matchup in the semis against Finland but managed to break the feisty rivals with a late goal for a 4-3 triumph.
Trevor Zegras’ hands are ridiculous 😱😱 pic.twitter.com/N91C94pwII
— Gino Hard (@Ginohard_) January 5, 2021
This victory was important for Team USA because of last year’s quarterfinal elimination against the same rivals. Once again, Finland entered the match as a massive underdog, having no pressure at all, but Leaman’s crew showed composure. They wouldn’t allow cracking under pressure, chasing away the ghost from the past, and creating a big swing before the finals.
Previously-mentioned Zegras is the leader of the team, with six goals and ten assists, but the guy who is expected to step up in the finals is Arthur Kaliyev, who delivered a game-winner against the Fins.
Canada is a big favorite, but it is better to bet on goals than the final result in the current situation. The Habs are playing at home, and that creates additional pressure, while on the other side, the Americans are very dangerous.
Over/Under limit for goals is set at 5.5, and once seeing the attacking potential on both ends, six goals shouldn’t be that big of a deal. The odds on Over are +100.