It was a close call, but we squeezed out a small profit on last night’s two-game World Junior schedule. To be honest, we deserved much better.
I took the Swedes -7.5 over Austria, and when you take a team to win by eight goals you can ill afford a hot goaltender at the other end, but that’s precisely what happened. The Swedes outshot Austria 21-1 in the first period, yet led just 1-0 after one. The shot count was in excess of 40 after two and Sweden finished with 65 shots in total. However, Austrian netminder Sebastian Wraneschitz was unbelievable, making 61 saves on 65 shots in what amounted to a 4-0 Sweden win.
If you told me prior to the game that Sweden would outshoot Austria 65-6, I’m taking the -7.5 with authority. We simply ran into a hot goalie. It also didn’t help that it was announced that captain Philip Broberg – who I specifically mentioned in yesterday’s write up – would miss the game about a minute before puck drop. Some lack of information hurt there.
Later on, we had Germany over Slovakia as +115 moneyline underdogs. From what I had seen and read, the Germans were supposed to get at least three skaters back in addition to their No. 1 goaltender Florian Bugl. Bugl returned, but the Germans remained with just 14 skaters. Again, the lack of information didn’t help us out in this case.
That said, what a game it was. The two teams went back and forth all night long, and the game needed overtime at 3-3 by the end of regulation. In the three-on-three overtime, the Germans were awarded a power play and finally capitalized with less than a minute to go, pulling off the 4-3 upset and notching us a winner at +115.
All told, it was a small 0.15-unit profit on the night as we look ahead to tonight’s three-game World Junior schedule!
Let’s check out our first pick of the day featuring the Czech Republic vs. USA from the Edmonton bubble!
Czech Republic vs. USA Betting Odds
- Czech Republic (+600)
- USA (-1100)
- Czech Republic +3.5 (-165)
- USA -3.5 (+125)
- Over 6.5 (-135)
- Under 6.5 (+105)
Czech Republic vs. USA World Junior Pick Breakdown
The biggest upset of the tournament to this point belongs to the Czech Republic as they knocked off a heavily favored Russian squad on Sunday by a 2-0 score, putting the remainder of the tournament on notice in the process.
It was a shot-blocking clinic for this Czech team, a group that rebounded nicely after allowing six goals in the second half of the game in their tournament-opening 7-1 loss to Sweden on Christmas Day. We knew that the Czech blueline would take this team as far as they would go, and they deserve a ton of credit for that upset of Russia.
UPSET Alert! After losing to Sweden in their opener, Czech Republic has Russia on the ropes up 2-0 in the 3rd thanks to a breakaway score from Martin Lang @narodnitym #WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/0ac2xuxtF0
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 28, 2020
Of course, Spokane Chiefs netminder Lukas Parik — a Los Angeles Kings prospect — stood tall for the Czechs and slammed the door when called upon to earn the shutout.
As good as the defensive effort was, the Czech offense has yet to show out in this tournament. The competition has been stiff to this point against quality bluelines versus the Swedes and Russians, but the Czechs have scored just three goals in two games to this point. The forward group contains five NHL-drafted prospects including their best forward in Montreal Canadiens prospect Jan Mysak, but has yet to break through.
That said, the Americans bring their own quality blueline to the table, but it appears that the task will be on the Czech back end once again in this one if another upset is to be had.
After dropping their tournament opener 4-3 to the rival Russians, the United States put forth one of the most dominating World Junior efforts we’ve seen in recent history while blowing out an overmatched Austria team by an 11-0 count while putting more than 70 shots on goal.
Of course, we didn’t expect much from Austria in their first appearance at the event since 2010, however we did get a strong taste of the firepower on this American team nonetheless.
Anaheim Ducks first-rounder Trevor Zegras put on an absolute clinic in that one, as did Minnesota Wild prospect Matthew Boldy who notched a hat trick for his effort.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) December 27, 2020
Not only was the shot and goal count outrageous, but the American offense also hit at least five goalposts in a game that could have been closer to 16-0.
While the offense is scary good, the U.S. back end isn’t to be overlooked.
Cameron York could be the best offensive defenseman in this tournament while Ottawa Senators 2020 fifth overall pick Jake Sanderson is going to be an NHLer sooner than later.
And then there is goaltender Spencer Knight. Knight didn’t have his best effort against Russia to open the tournament, and was given the night off against Austria. That said, he’ll be geared up for this one.
The Florida Panthers first-rounder was solid in last year’s tournament, working to a 2.49 GAA and .913 Sv% in five games, but it’s worth nothing his dominance at the NCAA level with Boston College.
The Terriers’ netminder posted an outstanding 1.91 GAA and .931 Sv% in 33 games as a Freshman last season and has been nearly unbeatable while working to a 1.50 GAA and .955 Sv% with a clean 4-0-0 record in four starts so far this season. While Canada’s Devon Levi has been excellent against weak competition in Group A and Austria’s Sebastian Wraneschitz has been unbelievable while seeing mass amounts of rubber, it was widely regarded that Knight and Russia’s Yaroslav Askarov are the top two netminders in the tournament.
The States will look to put all three phases of their roster to work in this one today.
Czech Republic vs. USA World Junior Pick
The Czechs’ upset of Russia was certainly impressive, mostly from a defensive standpoint. It was blocked shots galore and Parik was there when needed.
However, it was believed that Russia’s offense would be a top-heavy group and Karjala Cup top forward Rodion Amirov had a rare off night, in part due to the stifling defense on the other side.
Still, this U.S. offense appears to be far superior to that of the Russians. Cole Caufield has yet to break out at this tournament — including last year — but remains one of, if not the best pure goal-scorer at the event.
That’s not to mention fellow sniper Arthur Kaliyev and No. 1 center Alex Turcotte, the latter of whom is likely to join the L.A. Kings for the start of the NHL season on Jan. 13.
In other words, I don’t see the Czechs generating much offense for the third tough matchup in a row.
We loved what we saw from the Czech blueline against Russia, but we can’t forget the seven goals Sweden hung on them in the opener. This American offense is far superior to that of Sweden, and you would have to think that the flood gates could open again if the States were to attack early as they did against the overmatched Austrians.
In short, I think we’re getting a fantastic price on a strong American team on the puckline here. I’m not about to be sucked in by the States putting up 11 on Austria, but the Czechs’ defensive effort against Russia was about as good as they can play. Repeating such an effort against this American offense is going to be extremely difficult.
Add it up and I’ll take the U.S. to win this one on the puckline -3.5 at +125.