2017 World Juniors: Playoff Outlook

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Last year the Finns were on top of the Junior world as they took home the gold medal after an overtime win against the Russians.

It only continued a pattern for the Finns who have been one of the top teams over the last few years in international hockey.

They have taken two of the last three gold medals in the Juniors and they will be hoping to make that a third this time around.

There is no doubt that they have the talent to compete and win a gold but they are in a new era of international hockey.

It has been talked about for the last few years and many are still waiting for hockey to even out much more than it has.

The Juniors is a good indication of where the game is going and over the last few years, they are showing that the difference between teams is shrinking.

The Canadians were always the most dominant of the teams in the Juniors after a long history of creating and playing the game.

It only seemed natural that a country with a few decades of a head start would be the better team on a consistent basis.

It also made sense that a team not far behind the Canadians in their hockey history would be the biggest rivals to the crown.

Lately, though the Russians and the Canadians are far from a sure bet in any tournament that they enter.

They are still always going to be favourites to win big tournaments because the talent has always been there but other teams are catching up.

They may not produce talent at the same rate but the level of talent being produced everywhere else is catching up.

It has shown the Juniors as the Canadians are no longer the dominant force in the tournament winning only one time in the last seven years.

Finland has won twice along with the USA while Sweden and Russia have taken one a piece in those seven years.

The tournament is strikingly even now making every year more unpredictable from the last.

This year the potential winners are many familiar faces as USA, Russia, Sweden, and Finland all seem to be favourites to do something.

Unlike other years though not one of them sticks out above the rest.

The offensive talent on USA and Canada could be devastating while the Russian defence might be very hard to break through.

Sweden and Finland are just all-around talented and could make very serious runs against any team in the tournament.hockey-sidebar

There are always the surprises too as any of the smaller countries could throw a wrench into the plans of the big nations.

Most likely though it seems like Russia won’t have the depth on offence to compete for the gold while the Americans don’t have the depth on defence.

Sweden and Finland will fight it out with Finland coming out on top setting up an interesting playoff.

The Swedes are a great team this year but before they can get to the medals they will need to get through the Canadians.

Canada isn’t necessarily spectacular but they are deep everywhere and are just a solid team in all aspects.

The Swedes are the same and in a tough battle they will come close to making it through but won’t be able to pull through.

On the other side of the bracket, the Finns might have to take on one of the best offensive teams in the tournament.

Their depth at every position will pull through though as the Finns move on to another final with a chance to repeat.

A clash between the last two gold medalists might match the final from a year ago and with the home crowd behind them, the Canadians will take the win.

Then again with so many good teams this year and so much talent one game could make all of the difference.

One of the big teams losing unexpectedly could change the look of everything whereas an injury to a key player might sink the chances of a big team.

The tournament is only getting better albeit harder to predict because of the level of play being displayed in every nation.

There are any number of outcomes but based on the look of the teams right now and the motivating factors Canada seems like they will find their way to the gold medal once again.

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