2013 World Junior Playoff Preview

2013 WJC logo

The round robin is done and now it is time for the real tournament as the new year brings the chance for a new World Junior champion. Through the round robin teams have made their statements about what style of hockey they want to play. As the statements have been made some surprises have been seen with one of the biggest coming in Pool A. Throughout the pre-tournament the Finnish team had looked great and seemed on their way to a good finish in the tournament. Then the tournament started and the Fins could not seem to get their head around the games. The Finnish team would lose more than they would win and in the end would be eliminated from the medal round. It was the biggest surprise of the tournament this year but many more things stayed the same. The Canadians and the Swedes were the two best teams in the tournament while the Russians were a very close second in their home tournament. The rest of the teams fared well with the Czech Republic and Switzerland looking to make a big surprise in the medal rounds. As these teams look to the playoffs for the medal round four teams are simply looking to stay in the tournament as the relegation round will see one team leave the tournament and be replaced by the Danes who won the second tier tournament. The playoffs are here and now the games get more interesting because every goal becomes more important with single elimination games. As the tournament turns to its final stages six teams look for the gold medal with all but Sweden looking to bring another new champion.

 

Medal Round

The Medal round is here as six teams are looking to earn the gold with the typical teams and a few surprises. Sweden and Canada will be the teams who will wait and see who they will face this year as both earned a bye. Both teams were good this year with the Canadians finishing first overall with four wins and no overtime games. The Swedes had much the same tournament but they did go to overtime once putting them one point behind. The Canadians are the favorites at this point with only one real issue when they let the USA back in the game late. The Swedes are not bad either though as their one stumble came against the surprising Switzerland team. As these two teams wait two more teams are looking to meet them and continue their roll in the Juniors. The Russians are one of these teams as they hope to easily get by everyone on their way to the gold medal game. They did not start the tournament the way they wanted though as they were forced into overtime by the Slovakians. They would win that game but lose to the Canadians to go into the quarter-finals. The other team looking to make an impact again this year will be the Americans as they look to try to get back to the medals after a 7th place finish in 2012. The US did not have a great tournament losing to the Russians and the Canadians but they made the playoffs as they live to fight another day. The two surprises this year are the Swiss and the Czechs as one was expected to make it in the third spot but not both. The Czechs are looking to return the medals this year while the Swiss are a big surprise and looking to continue to surprise while not in the relegation round. The playoffs may contain some surprises but the Czechs and Swiss will likely not move on although both could provide problems if the Russians and Americans do not take them seriously. Overall the best two teams in the tournament are the Canadians and the Russians as both will make the gold medal game leaving the USA and Sweden to fight for the bronze. In the gold medal game the Canadians will have some confidence in beating the Russians already but that will also provide the Russians with a lot more motivation. Russia will be motivated to beat the Canadians in the second game of the tournament and with both teams looking good expect an overtime or shootout game. The Russians will win the Gold medal at home against the Canadians in another classic game in the most storied international rivalry in the world as they will stand at the top of the Juniors world once again.

 

How They Will Finish:
1. Russia [Gold]
2. Canada [Silver]
3. Sweden [Bronze]
4. USA
5. Czech Republic
6. Switzerland

 

Relegation Round

The Relegation round is not a place that any team wants to be as there is a lot at stake in this mini tournament. The last place team out of the four bottom teams will no longer be a part of the top tournament and will go down to fight for another shot next year in the second tier. This year there are some surprises as the Fins are in the relegation round in a tournament that seemed to be a great opportunity to win a medal. Instead the Fins would lose two games and be pushed to overtime in another to be eliminated from any chance at medals. It will be an unfamiliar spot for them as they are not used to fighting for their chance to stay in the top tournament. Meanwhile the other three teams will be in a familiar spot as all three have been here before. The Slovakians are a team that has been in and out of the medal rounds as they know what it is like to fight for their spot in the relegation round. The Slovakians usually win this fight as well. The two teams that expected to be here though are the Germans and the Latvians who continually struggle to stay in the top tier. This year one of them will be safe and the other will be relegated as they will have the big battle with the Fins and Slovakians safe for now. The Germans just came into the tournament this year and they made an impact. They did not win a game but they did show some signs of skill throughout the round robin. The Latvians are in trouble though as they were blown out by every team in the round robin and did not show many signs of life throughout the tournament. Expect the Latvians to be relegated this year as the Germans are a better team and the Latvians are simply not strong enough to stay in the top tier.

 

How They Will Finish:
7. Finland
8. Slovakia
9. Germany
10. Latvia [Relegated]

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