More Teams, More Possibilities (WJC Medal Preview)

Jake McCabe

The World Juniors are set to begin and with a new tournament comes a new format that will give more teams a chance to win. The IIHF would approve a new playoff format in 2012 and will put it into practice in the 2014 tournament. Since 2003 the World Juniors would see three teams move on to the playoffs. The first place team in each pool would earn a bye through to the semi-finals while the other teams would fight it out in the quarter-finals. The format was not the best for the top teams especially in the last few tournaments. The bye would not turn out to be the best for these teams as the tournament was such a unique experience that continually playing was the best way to keep winning. For the first time since 2003 the top teams will not have the bye as four teams will make the playoffs this year. The top four teams in each pool will make the playoffs this year and will earn a spot in the quarter-finals. The reward for coming first will be to play the 4th place team in the other pool instead of earning a bye. The relegation round will also see a new format as there will no longer be a relegation round as it will now give way to a relegation series. The bottom two teams in each pool will now be sent to play each other in a best of 3 series that will determine who get relegated to the second tier. The new format will give more teams a chance to medal this year as more teams will make it to the playoffs. The tournament is always unpredictable with players from all over their countries and outside of their countries coming together to try to play like a team for two weeks and win a medal. It is never an easy thing for these teams to come together and string together a number of wins to win the tournament. Add that to the fact that every team will now have to play two single elimination games to make it to the gold medal game and the possibilities are endless. Still there are those teams that everyone looks to as the elite of the tournament and the teams that most expect to medal. The Russians, Americans, Canadians, and Swedes are the four teams that everyone expects to make the medal games with three of them taking home medals this year. Then there are the Czechs and the Finns who are looking to be the middle of the road teams that may very well surprise everyone. These two teams can get into the medals if they have a good year as they can take advantage of the single elimination games to move on to the medals. Then there are the teams that are not used to the playoffs in Germany and Switzerland who, in most year, would find themselves in the relegation round but this year could see the playoffs. Their inexperience could be an advantage as they will likely take on teams that believe they are better which could mean big surprises. The new playoff format could mean a lot of surprises this year in the tournament but all teams will have their equal chance to move on to the medals and take their time on the podium. The top teams will likely still rise to the top and despite the possibility of surprises there will still be one of the big four at the top of the podium this year.

 

Predictions

Quarter-Finals:
Canada 5 – 2 Switzerland
– The Canadians are a different team this year as they have taken a different approach to the tournament than years before and although Switzerland will see the playoffs they won’t be a match for the Canadians

Sweden 6 – 1 Germany
– The Swedish team is one of the most talented this year and Germany is still developing but it will be clear who the better team is in this quarter-final match-up as the Swede move on to the semi-finals

USA 4 – 2 Finland
– It will be a tight game that many would assume the Americans will win easily but they will have a challenge with the Finnish team although they will still end up on top as they are the better team

Russia 3 – 0 Czech Republic
– The Russians have a lot of hope coming into the tournament but they will not be the same team they have been although that is still not enough to make the Czech Republic beat them for a chance at the semi-finals

 

Semi-Finals:
Canada 4 – 3 Russia (OT)
– The Canadians and Russians will renew their rivalry once again but this time it will be the Canadians getting the advantage as a new coach and a new training strategy will help them move on but not without a fight

Sweden 4 – 2 USA
– The Americans are the defending champions but looking at the roster of the Swedish team it just seems like they have the talent to get by almost everyone and they will get past the defending champions

 

Relegation:
Slovakia 2 – 0 Norway
– The Norwegians are happy to be in the top-tier this year but they will not be staying there as the Slovakians will take the relegation series in a sweep as they are the better team with more talent in this matchup

 

Medal Round

Bronze Medal:
USA 3 – 1 Russia
– Russia seems to be ripe for disappointment this year as they do not have the usual stable of star players and that will hurt them especially against a very big and very talented American squad that will take another medal

Gold Medal:
Canada 6 – 5 Sweden
– The Swedes may look to have the most talented team on paper but there is something about this Canadian team that makes them seem like they will break the four-year gold drought and take home the Gold medal once again

Rankings:
1. Canada [Gold]
2. Sweden [Silver]
3. USA [Bronze]
4. Russia
5. Finland
6. Czech Republic
7. Germany
8. Switzerland
9. Slovakia
10. Norway [Relegated]

Comments
One Response to “More Teams, More Possibilities (WJC Medal Preview)”
  1. cflsteve says:

    I like it a lot. No bye for the Quarters means more games and more games is always better. Who wants to see the top team sitting out a game especially when there really is no logic to it now.
    Getting the rleagation rounds into a more competative set up with again more games the better.

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