Sweden vs. Russia World Junior Pick – December 30, 2020

Sweden VS Russia IIHF WJC

Chalk last night up as a 2-1 night along with a 1.15-unit profit as we have now rattled off profits on back-to-back nights here at the 2021 World Juniors.

Our day got started on a beautiful note as the United States routed the Czech Republic by a 7-0 count, easily hitting our puckline -3.5 pick at excellent +125 odds. After a defensive clinic as part of their 2-0 upset of Russia, the Czech stymied the U.S. early as a 0-0 score after one had us sweating a bit. However, three second-period goals preceded four third-period tallies as we cruised to victory to open up Day 5.

Next came Canada and the Swiss where we had the hosts on the puckline at -5.5. Again, a 1-0 score at the end of one had us a little ancy, but Canada erupted for nine goals over the final two frames and the 10-0 final hit our puckline pick with ease.

Finally, we had Russia in a big 7.5 puckline spread over Austria. The Russian’s didn’t take it to Austria as much as the U.S. or Sweden did previously, which was a little disappointing considering the opportunity with Austria on a back-to-back and with goaltender Sebastian Wraneschitz on the bench. Still, Russia did blow out the Austrians, but Austria did notch their first goal of the tournament in an eventual 7-1 loss. We fell two Russian goals shy on this one.

Nonetheless, we’ll take the 2-1 night and the 1.15-unit profit and move onto Day 6 where it’s Sweden vs. Russia in a powerhouse Group B matchup from the Edmonton bubble!

Sweden vs. Russia Betting Odds

  • Sweden (+105)
  • Russia (-135)
  • Sweden +1.5 (-325)
  • Russia -1.5 (+230)
  • Over 5.5 (+105)
  • Under 5.5 (-135)

Sweden vs. Russia World Junior Pick Breakdown

Sweden

With a clean 2-0-0-0 record and an 11-1 goals for/against so far in this tournament, the Swedes are lookin good in a difficult Group B as they get set for a stiff test tonight against the Russians.

Their first game perhaps wasn’t as easy as the 7-1 final over the Czech Republic may appear as the Czechs actually opened the scoring in that one while the game sat tied at 1-1 nearing the midway point of the contest. Once they scored a short-handed tally less than three minutes after taking the lead, they were off and running.

I also wouldn’t let the 4-0 final over the inferior Austrians fool you. Sweden peppered Austrian netminder Sebastian Wraneschitz with 65 shots in that one, but the 19-year-old was up to the task, making 61 saves and plenty of beauties in the process. I had Sweden -7.5 in that one and with them outshooting Austria 65-6 I feel like we deserved that one but the Austrian netminder stole it from us.

Captain Philip Broberg missed the Austrian game due to minor injury, but it was reported that he could have played but given the overwhelming chance of a win regardless, the team decided to give the Edmonton Oilers first-rounder the night off as a precaution. He’ll be back in this Sweden lineup tonight after tallying a trio of second-period assists in the opener with the Czechs.

It’s a Swedish roster that had plenty of high-talent turnover from last year’s tournament while they too were forced to keep some key contributors — and their head coach — home before it all began. It’s a roster that’s thin down the middle up front, but a pair of top-eight 2020 NHL first-round picks in Lucas Raymond (Red Wings) and Alexander Holtz (Devils) will be leaned on heavily in this one to carry the offense.

Along with Broberg, Victor Soderstrom and Tobias Bjornfot are key contributors to the Sweden blueline.

Hugo Alnefelt will need to be good between the pipes in this one. The 19-year-old posting a stout 2.12 GAA and .924 Sv% in six games at last year’s tournament and has worked to a dynamite 0.50 GAA and .968 Sv% in two games this time around. The competition hasn’t been nearly as stiff as it will be tonight, but he’s been sharp nonetheless.

Russia

While they blew out the Austrians last night, it still goes down as a back-to-back for a Russian team that has largely been good in this tournament.

Much of the attention this team has been getting revolves around their 2-0 upset loss to the Czechs, but let’s not forget Russia took down the U.S. on Christmas Day to open their tournament with an impressive win.

They didn’t cover the puckline spread last night and didn’t dominate Austria to the tune that I had expected, but it’s difficult to criticize a 7-1 win.

I don’t think the back-to-back matters much in this one after cruising to victory last night, especially since highly-touted netminder Yaroslav Askarov — the 11th overall pick of the Nashville Predators in 2020 — got the night off in preparation for this contest tonight.

FUTURE SUPERSTAR?
Askarov scuffled at last year’s event, but had been solid in posting a 2.54 GAA and .909 Sv% in two games in this tournament and unlike other netminders in this tournament, didn’t get an opportunity to boost his numbers in an inferior matchup with Austria. Keep in mind Askarov has been nearly unbeatable in working to a 0.96 GAA and .962 Sv% in seven games with St. Petersburg of the KHL before heading overseas for the World Juniors.

After getting blanked and not bringing their A game to the table against the Czechs, the big boys up front did some major damage last night for Russia. They dominated the first period as Rodion Amirov, Vasily Podkolzin and Marat Khusnutdinov combined for four goals and six points in the first period alone of last night’s game, giving the top-line trio a much-needed confidence boost after a subpar effort two nights earlier.

Boston Bruins prospect Roman Bychkov also chipped in on offense, notching a pair of first-period assists and another in the third to give him a three-point night. He’s one of five NHL prospect on the Russian blueline while Guelph Storm blueliner Daniil Chayka should join them in 2021. Yan Kuznetsov is another high-end talent on this Russian blueline.

It appears the Russians are entering this one on a high note with their elite-level netminder rested and ready to go.

Sweden vs. Russia World Junior Pick

It’s certainly the best of the three matchups on tap today, although not the most important one. Both teams will advance to the medal round regardless of the result while the Germany/Switzerland tilt is the most crucial of the day.

Still, this one should be a dandy. There is skill all over the place in this one, first-round draft picks and future NHL players and potential stars involved as well.

As much as I like some of the forwards in this one, these teams don’t bring the same offensive depth to the tournament as they have in the past. After Russia’s top trio, the bottom nine lacks star and firepower. Furthermore, 2020 Columbus Blue Jackets first-rounder Yegor Chinakhov left last night’s game after being tripped on a breakaway and going awkwardly into the boards. He didn’t return and his status for tonight is unclear. If he misses tonight’s contest, it’s a notable blow to the Russian offense.

Sweden has future NHL talent up front in Raymond and Holtz, but No. 1 center Karl Hendriksson is not at the tournament and the offense hurts as a result. They have help from the back end, but this team has had superior offensive firepower at this tournament in years past.

Given the NHL prospects on the blueline of each club — 11 in total — I think these offenses could scuffle. That’s before we factor in a potential NHL superstar in Askarov while Alnefelt — a third-round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019 — is working on his second dominant tournament in a row.

Add it all up and give me the under 5.5 in this one at -135.

The Bet
UNDER 5.5
-135
Brenton Kemp / Author

Brenton is a lifelong sports fan who resides in Ontario, Canada. Brenton is a fan of most all sports but specializes in hockey, baseball, football, basketball, and golf. He’s a fierce researcher with a strong appetite to deliver accurate and relevant facts that in turn have led to past success with picks and DFS advice across the board. Brenton’s biggest goal is to deliver readers with the picks and advice that can build their bankroll. He takes great pride in his success and loves nothing more than to share that success for the benefit of everyone involved.