Monday is the fourth day of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, which is being held at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
Finland 4, Switzerland 1
Canada 3, Slovakia 1
Czech Republic 2, Russia 0
What we learned on Day 3
Skilled Russians must start going into the dirty areas
Russia coach Igor Larionov was a member of three Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002). During those championship runs, he gained an appreciation for the way fellow forwards like Tomas Holmstrom, Darren McCarty and Kirk Maltby would go to the dirty area in front of the net and cause chaos in front of opposing goalies, especially during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Larionov would like to see his players follow suit in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.
Russia outshot the Czech Republic 30-29 during a 2-0 loss in Group B action Sunday. It was the first time Russia was shut out in the tournament since losing the 2012 gold medal game 1-0 to Sweden in overtime, and Larionov thinks he knows why.
“I don’t think we have any concerns about our team in terms of our offensive play or team effort or anything like that,” he said. “We have to be significantly more around the net and finish our chances. We have to get shots to the net and get rebounds and score some dirty goals.”
Too many of Russia’s shots came from the outside, much to Larionov’s chagrin, allowing Czech Republic goalie Lukas Parik (Los Angeles Kings) to have a clear view. Russia went 0-for-3 on the power play in the third period and had trouble penetrating a defensive system that often had five players collapsing into the slot.
“Sometimes you have to use a game like this as a confidence leveler, a classroom,” Larionov said. “We need to play our best hockey and get on the scoreboard and get some guys getting their confidence back to score goals.”
Russia (1-0-0-1) plays Austria (0-0-0-1) on Tuesday.
Lundell’s leadership on display for Finland
Forward Anton Lundell (Florida Panthers) said he was thrilled to be named captain of Finland two weeks ago. Through his team’s first two games, the 19-year-old is showing the type of leadership worthy of that distinction.
That was on display in the first period of Finland’s 4-1 victory against Switzerland Sunday.
Despite coming into the game as underdogs, Switzerland (0-0-0-2) appeared to have the early momentum when forward Attilio Biasca (2021 draft eligible) opened the scoring at 3:44 of the first period. But any confidence Switzerland might have built from that early goal was dampened 36 seconds later when Lundell scored to tie the game 1-1.
The timing of the goal was a turning point for Finland (2-0-0-0), which went on to score three more times for the victory.
Lundell finished with two points (one goal, one assist) and has scored in each of Finland’s first two games. He opened the scoring in Finland’s 5-3 victory against Germany on Friday and is tied for the team lead in goals (two) with forward Aku Raty (Arizona Coyotes). Lundell (two goals, one assist), Kasper Simontaival (one goal, two assists) and Roni Hirvonen (two assists) have combined for eight points (three goals, five assists) through two games and have formed Finland’s most effective line.
“I would say that we have good chemistry,” Simontaival (Los Angeles Kings) said of Lundell. “We can find each other when we put pucks to the net and redirect them. We see each other great on the ice.”
Simontaival also praised Hirvonen (Toronto Maple Leafs).
“He’s been playing great for us,” Simontaival said.
Lundell has scored Finland’s first goal in each of the first two games and is setting the tone for his team like any good captain does.
Canada’s depth shows again
Defenseman Jordan Spence (Los Angeles Kings) was a healthy scratch for Canada’s 16-2 victory against Germany on Saturday. He took the ice for the pregame skate prior to the game against Slovakia on Sunday not knowing if he would play.
But when Canada learned that defenseman Braden Schneider (New York Rangers) was being suspended for a hit to the head in the win against Germany, Spence was inserted into the lineup to replace him.
He didn’t disappoint.
Spence, who was making his IIHF Under-20 championship debut, made the most of his opportunity by opening the scoring at 4:08 of the first period in Canada’s 3-1 victory in Group A. His ability to step into the lineup and be a difference-maker after sitting out the opener is an example of Canada’s deep talent pool.
“He did a good job,” coach André Tourigny said. “He was ready. We know he can really move the puck well.”
Tourigny said it was tough to decide who to sit out against Germany.
“We knew we would go to Jordan at some point because this is the World Juniors,” he said. “Adversity happens. We knew that because of injury or suspension Jordan would play at some point. We talked to him about it. We knew he could do it.”
Canada plays Switzerland on Tuesday (6 p.m. ET). With Spence making an impact and Schneider eligible to return, Tourigny will have another tough decision about who to scratch.
On tap for Day 4
All games on NHL Network in U.S., TSN and RDS in Canada
Austria vs. Sweden (6 p.m. ET) — Each team played a lopsided game in its tournament opener, although with significantly different results. Sweden (1-0-0-0) defeated the Czech Republic 7-1, a result that looks even more impressive after the Czech Republic’s 2-0 win against Russia on Sunday. Austria (0-0-0-1) was outshot 73-10 and outscored 11-0 by the United States on Saturday. Goal differential serves as one of the tiebreakers in the tournament, so Sweden will look to take advantage against an Austria team that was badly outplayed.
Slovakia vs. Germany (9:30 p.m. ET) — Germany (0-0-0-2) hoped a day off Sunday provided the rest its players needed. Germany was limited to 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defensemen — because of coronavirus issues in a 5-3 loss to Finland on Friday and its 16-2 loss to Canada on Saturday. The IIHF said Sunday that three players are eligible to return after being released from quarantine. Slovakia (1-0-0-1) felt it deserved a better fate in its 3-1 loss to Canada on Sunday and will be looking to take advantage of a shorthanded Germany team.