Canada will play host Finland today in the quarterfinals at the World Junior Championship. The Canadians have struggled to say the least. After losing to the USA by a score of 4-2 in the opening game, beating Denmark 6-1, etching out a tight 3-2 win over Switzerland, and getting thoroughly trounced by Sweden 5-2, Canada finished third in their group, and sixth overall. It was the first time Canada has dropped two games in the preliminary round since 1998.
The defending champions have only managed 13 goals in four games, whereas they've allowed 11 goals against. Goaltending has been questionable, there's a clear lack of a solid defensive presence on the blue line, and the forwards have struggled to create chemistry. As it stands, Canada seems more like a group of individual talented players rather than a team.
Finland, however, has been dominant throughout the preliminary games. They scored a tournament leading 23 goals in four games, thanks to a sparkling 15.97 shooting percentage. Much of that offensive success comes from their power play, which leads all countries with a 50% efficiency through 16 man-advantage situations.
Leading the way for Finland is their top line of Patrik Laine, Sebastian Aho, and Jesse Puljujarvi. The trio was on the ice for 14 of Finland's goals in preliminary play, which is more goals than Canada managed as an entire team.
Puljujarvi leads the tournament in scoring, with five goals and seven assists, which is quite a feat for a draft-eligible player. To put it in context, Canada's best scorer is Dylan Strome, who has three goals and two assists.
Canada will have to play a disciplined game if they hope to continue in this tournament, and they'll need to play as a team, something that has alluded them throughout their first four games.
As for Finland, their confidence is overflowing, and rightfully so. As you can see by this Patrik Laine quote, the hosts will be ready for the defending champs.
"Our team has played really well so far. I'm confident and looking forward to beating Canada."
With almost 14,000 fans in the stands, the Finns will be able to count on a raucous crowd to support their efforts.
Puck drop is at 11:00 AM EST / 8 AM PST / 6:00 PM Helsinki Time (GMT+2)
You can watch the game on TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5, RDS, or streaming on TSN GO. You can listen to the game on the TSN radio network. The NHL Network will carry the game in the United States, however it will be on tape delay at 3:30 PM EST.
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Lawson Crouse||Dylan Strome||Jake Virtanen|
|Brendan Perlini||Brayden Point||Mitch Marner|
|Anthony Beauvillier||Matthew Barzal||Julien Gauthier|
|John Quenneville||Mitchell Stephens||Travis Konecny|
Joe Hicketts (A)
|Haydn Fleury||Brandon Hickey|
|Travis Sanheim||Travis Dermott|
|Patrik Laine||Sebastian Aho (A)||Jesse Puljujarvi|
|Antti Kalapudas||Roope Hintz (A)||Mikko Rantanen (C)|
|Aleksi Saarela||Julius Nattinen||Kasperi Kapanen|
|Kasper Bjorkqvist||Juho Lammikko||Sebastian Repo|
|Olli Juolevi||Joni Tuulola|
|Niko Mikkola||Sami Niku|
|Miska Siikonen||Vili Saarjarvi|