Team Canada and Team USA have been dominant at the 2021 WJC in Edmonton.
While we wait for the 2020-21 NHL season to start, we are being kept entertained by the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Red Deer, where Team Canada and Team USA are both putting on an absolute show.
We are on Day Six of the tournament in Edmonton and there has already been plenty of talking points and a plethora of young studs making one hell of an impression, some of which we will cover more closely later.
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But, for now, it would be remiss of us not to focus on Team USA and Team Canada with the two talent-laden teams living up to expectations right now.
Both teams will now be in the Quarter-Finals of the World Juniors, with one group game left each, both of which take place on New Year’s Eve.
Team Canada, who won Gold in 2020, will take on 2019 Gold Medal winners Finland in a winner-take-all showdown in Group A, while Team USA will need to beat Sweden to top a crazy Group B.
It could mean a mouthwatering matchup between the two powerhouses at one point in the tournament, although Sweden, Finland and Russia are all teams to watch too.
However, Team Canada in particular look an absolute juggernaut right now and they have won three straight, scoring 29 goals and allowing just three.
They shutout Switzerland in a 10-0 win on Tuesday, while they edged past Slovakia 3-1 after dominating a depleted German team in a 16-2 win in their opening game of the tournament.
Boasting incredible depth throughout the lineup, Team Canada may not lose a single game and they look a very good bet to defend their Gold Medal win last year.
I mean, they make up three of the top four scoring leaders at the World Juniors with Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Cozens second with 9 points (4 G, 5 A) in three games, LA Kings rookie Quinton Byfield is third with 2 goals and 5 assists for 7 points in three games, and Philip Tomasino of the Nashville Predators is fourth with 6 points (4 G, 2 A) in three games.
The likes of Peyton Krebs, Connor McMichael and Dawson Mercer have all made valuable contributions too, while stud defenseman Bowen Byram leads the entire tournament in plus / minus with a rating of +12, with Anaheim Ducks prospect Jamie Drysdale right behind him with +11.
Goaltender Devon Levi ranks third among all goaltenders at the World Juniors so far, while Team Canada rank in the top three of most statistics and they could even get better the longer this tournament goes on.
Then you have Team USA who dropped their first game of the tournament to a multi-talented Russia team in a tough 5-3 loss on Christmas Day.
However, since then, the United States have bounced back in emphatic and dominant fashion after shutting out the newly-promoted Austria 11-0, before beating the Czech Republic 7-0 on Tuesday.
They have scored 18 games and not allowed a single goal against in two games now, with the win over the Czech Republic in what was the 1,300th game in IIHF World Junior Championship history an especially important one.
Now with six points in Group B, Team USA are guaranteed a place in the Quarter-Finals, but they will need to beat a competitive and talent-laden Sweden outfit on New Year’s Eve in order to guarantee topping the Group, while hoping Russia lose to Sweden later today.
Momentum is on Team USA’s side, though, and they are getting key contributions from some of their biggest stars.
Both goaltenders in Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers) and Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames) have a shutout apiece, while the Anaheim Ducks’ ninth overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Trevor Zegras is absolutely lighting up the tournament and is currently the scoring leader with 10 points (5 G, 5 A) in three games.
Cam York of the Philadelphia Flyers and Matthew Boldy of the Minnesota Wild are both having big tournaments with six and five points respectively, and you just need to watch this absolutely filthy goal from Boldy in the win over the Czech Republic:
Having also not allowed a single power play goal against in 8 minutes of total shorthanded time, Team USA are really beginning to find their groove at just the right time and they have the weapons to challenge for the Gold Medal this year.
Plus, if Montreal Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield can wake up having scored just one goal this tournament, then that will add another lethal weapon to what is a pretty stacked roster for Team USA who will be looking to pit their wits against Team Canada at some point.
Overall, the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship has been a lot of fun to watch so far, and both Team Canada and Team USA are doing a good job of living up to all the hype and their lofty billing as two of the top teams to watch in this year’s tournament.