5 AM ET: Switzerland vs Belarus, Game One
The relegation round is a best of three series between the two fifth placed teams in the preliminary round. For the second straight year, Switzerland is in the round and will take on Belarus. Belarus is looking to stay in the top pool after getting a spot into the top division last year. Switzerland had tough luck, falling hard to Sweden in their opener and then getting three players suspended for their game against Denmark. That loss to Denmark was what forced them into the relegation round. Belarus had a close game against the Czech Republic where they had a late lead. Their fate may have been sealed with their opening game loss to Slovakia. The game is not televised.
Russia is the heavy favourite against Denmark in this one. The Danes will be happy just to avoid the relegation round for the second straight year. Russia went undefeated in the preliminary round but needed a shootout to defeat the Czech Republic in their opener. Denmark has played close games against the United States and shouldn't be taken for granted. However, their work ethic should not be overlooked. The game will be shown on TSN 1/3/4/5 and RDS in Canada. In the United States, the NHL Network will have the game.
Sweden went through the preliminary round with only one close game - a 1-0 win over the United States. They were dominant despite losing their star player William Nylander in the opener. They will be without their goaltender Linus Soderström who was hurt late in their win against Canada. For Slovakia, a couple of close losses pushed them back to the fourth spot in Group B. These two teams met in the bronze medal game a year ago where Slovakia upset the Swedes. The game will be on TSN2 and RDS in Canada. NHL Network in the US will show the game.
So far, it is a World Juniors to forget for Canada, who are in danger of having their worst finish since 1998 when the tournament was also in Finland. Canada lost two games in the preliminary round and needed a shootout to avoid a third loss. Finland, the hosts, played a great preliminary round and could have won all of their games. They had a lead against Russia, but collapsed. However, that could serve as a wake up call for the Finns who have the tournament's leading scorer in draft eligible forward Jesse Puljujärvi. The game will be on TSN 1/3/4/5 and RDS in Canada. NHL Network in the USA will be showing the game on tape delay starting at 3:30 p.m.
1 PM ET: United States vs Czech Republic
The Czech Republic may be the surprise of the tournament, playing very well in all of their preliminary round games. They took Russia to a shootout and had a one goal loss to the Finns. Their goaltender Vitek Vanecek is the key to their game as the Czechs try to play a shell game once they take the lead. With Pavel Zacha and David Pastrnak up front, you can't sleep on their skill, either. The United States had a let down in their game against Denmark but should be revitalized with their quarterfinal game. Auston Matthews will be leading the US attack and after giving his net to Brandon Halverson for the last game and a half of the preliminary round, Alex Nedeljkovic should get the start. The game will be on TSN2 and RDS in Canada and NHL Network in the USA.