Canada celebrates a goal against Sweden during the second period of the title game of the IIHF world junior hockey championships Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
- Canada is the -245 favorite over Russia in one of two World Junior Tournament semi-finals slated for Monday
- Following Saturday’s quarter-final win over the Czech Republic, the Canadians are a perfect 5-0 in the tourney
- Russia beat Germany 2-1 in the quarter-finals to improve to 4-1
When it comes to international hockey tradition, there’s no greater rivalry than Canada-Russia. And when it comes to the World Junior Tournament, there’s no tighter competition than when the Canadians and Russians clash on the ice.
The two hockey powers will meet again Monday in Edmonton in this year’s World Junior Tourney semi-finals.
Canada and Russia have met 24 times in World Junior play since 1996, the year that the format switched from round-robin to a knockout stage medal round. Each country has won 12 times since that year.
In medal-round play, Russia holds a 9-8 edge over Canada. The Canadians defeated the Russians 4-3 in the gold-medal game at last year’s event.
Russia vs Canada World Junior Semi-Final Odds
|Russia||+195||+1.5 (-141)||O 6 (+100)|
|Canada||-245||-1.5 (-112)||U 7 (-122)|
All odds taken Jan. 2nd at DraftKings
Winners by a 3-0 count over the Czech Republic in Saturday’s quarter-finals, Canada is a perfect 5-0 thus far in the tournament. The Canadians are the -245 favorites to defeat the Russians and return to the gold-medal match for the second year in a row.
Game time Monday is 6 pm EST. The contest will be broadcast by the NHL Network.
Canada Czechs Off Another Win
They didn’t blow the Czech Republic out of the arena. Nonetheless, Canada grabbed a 2-0 first-period, netting a third-period empty-net goal to skate to triumph despite being outshot 29-24.
Canada has allowed just four goals through five games. Goaltender Devon Levi leads the tournament in goals-against average (0.64) and save percentage (.967) and shares the lead with two shutouts.
Offensively, Dylan Cozens added two more points in the quarter-final win. He’s produced 6-7-13 numbers. There are five Canadians among the top 20 scorers in the tournament.
The Czechs were able to give the Canadians problems with their counter-attacking style of play. It was the same system that the Czechs used to upset Russia 2-0 during group stage play.
Russians Edge Germans
Russia grabbed a 2-0 lead over Germany after 40 minutes and then hung on for a 2-1 verdict in the first of Saturday’s four quarter-final games. Under the tutelage of coach Igor Larionov, the Hall of Famer and three-time Stanley Cup champion, Russia is getting the job done by playing stalwart defense.
Forward Rodion Amirov, a 2020 first-round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is the leading scoring for the Russians with 2-4-6 totals. However, that’s only good enough for 11th overall in tournament scoring.
Russia has scored just 18 goals through five games. That’s the lowest total among any of the four teams still standing in the semi-finals.
It’s another NHL first-round pick – Nashville’s 2020 top choice Yaroslav Askarov – who is holding the fort for the Russians. In five games, Askarov has faced 110 shots and allowed just nine goals.
His goals-against average is 2.22 and his save percentage registers at .918. Both numbers rate fourth overall in the tournament.
Comparables Favor Canada
Russia’s only loss was a 2-0 shutout setback against the Czechs, the same team that Canada defeated in the quarter-finals. As well, Canada blasted Germany 16-2 in group play.
Granted, it was a German team reduced to 14 skaters by a COVID-19 outbreak. Regardless, 16-2 is a much wider margin of victory than 2-1.
Yaroslav Askarov shut the door here to keep it 2-0. 👀 pic.twitter.com/eF4zrh79bk
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 2, 2021
The Russians will need Askarov to stand on his head in order to have a chance to win this game. Even at that, they’ll be hard-pressed to score enough goals to upend the Canadians.
Canada beat Russia 1-0 in a pre-tournament game.
Pick: Canada (-245)
An industry veteran, Bob literally taught the course on the history of sports at Elder College. He has worked as a Sports Columnist for Postmedia, appeared as a guest on several radio stations, was the Vice President of the Society For International Hockey Research in Ontario, and written 25 books.