Finland’s Toni Utunen, right, challenges Cole Caufield of the US during the U20 Ice Hockey Worlds quarterfinal match between Finland and the United States in Trinec, Czech Republic, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
- USA and Finland face off in the 2021 World Junior semifinals on Monday, January 4th
- The Finns knocked the Americans out of the tournament last year
- Read below for the odds, spread and betting preview
Team USA will have revenge on its mind when they take on Team Finland in the semifinals of the 2021 World Juniors on Monday, January 4th in Edmonton. You can watch the game at 9:30pm ET on the NHL Network.
The Americans were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Finns last season, but they can punch their ticket to the gold medal game with a victory this time around. They’re being listed as -235 favorites ahead of puck drop.
Are the Finns capable of pulling off another upset?
USA vs Finland Odds
|Finland||+188||+1.5 (-152)||O 5.5 (-110)|
|USA||-235||-1.5 (-120)||U 5.5 (-110)|
Odds as of Jan 4th at DraftKings
Americans Survive Scare From Slovaks
Team USA is off to the World Juniors semifinal after defeating Slovakia 5-2 in the quarterfinals. Arthur Kaliyev and Cole Caufield both scored on the power play, while Trevor Zegras and Bobby Brink contributed a pair of assists. Goalie Spencer Knight stopped 16 shots.
The Americans were clearly the better team in the quarterfinal, but the Slovaks stuck around and were down by only one goal midway through the third period. There isn’t much reason for concern, however, as the Americans put 43 shots on goal and were stymied by a heroic performance from Slovak goaltender Simon Latkoczy.
Simon Latkoczy is on 🔥 pic.twitter.com/2oIkiFYPMe
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 3, 2021
Heading into the semifinals, Team USA is 4-1-0 and ranks second among all countries in both goals scored (30) and goals allowed (7). They’re led on offense by Ducks’ prospect Zegras, who paces the tournament in scoring with 15 points (six goals).
Finns Out To Play Spoiler Again
Team Finland will be looking to eliminate the Americans for a second consecutive year after punching their ticket to the semifinal Saturday. The Finns took down the Swedes in the quarterfinals by a 3-2 score, thanks to a late goal by Maple Leafs’ prospect Roni Hirvonen .
Finland hasn’t been as impressive as Team USA throughout this tournament, but they’re no strangers to winning big games as the underdog. They beat the Americans 1-0 in the quarterfinals last year and also took them down in the 2019 gold medal game.
Finland is led on offense by Florida Panthers’ draft pick Anton Lundell, who has four goals and seven points through five games. They also have a solid blueline anchored by Maple Leafs’ draft pick Topi Niemelä and Winnipeg Jets’ prospect Ville Heinola. Finland has given up just 10 goals this tournament.
What’s The Best Bet?
Despite Finland’s reputation for crushing the dreams of North American teams at the World Juniors, I’m not ready to bet against a talented USA team that will have extra motivation on Monday. There are eight players on this team who suffered that heartbreaking loss last year, including Caufield and Zegras.
This is a matchup that could be won with special teams. The Americans come into this game with the best power play in the entire tournament (42.1%), while Finland has racked up more penalty minutes than any other team (62). If the Finns don’t stay disciplined, the lethal USA man advantage will make them pay.
🚨🇺🇸 POWER PLAY GOAL! @Arthur_Kaliyev goes in and puts @usahockey on the board. #WorldJuniors @LAKings pic.twitter.com/cXXagJyp3U
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 3, 2021
Finland always has something up their sleeve, but it’s clear this year that the Americans and Canadians are a step above the other countries. Finland has a good defense and goaltending, but their offense is nowhere near as talented as the Americans.
Many of these USA players will have an extra chip on their shoulder and will be eager to send this Finnish squad packing. Expect the Americans to continue their offensive onslaught and take down the Finns by at least two goals in the semifinal.
Pick: USA -1.5 (-120)
Brady is a passionate hockey fan and sports writer with over five years experience specializing in digital media, plus a degree in Broadcast Journalism. His work has been published by outlets such as ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo! Sports and Fox Sports.