- USA (1-1) is a 2.5-goal favorite against the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships in Edmonton on Monday at 2 PM EST
- You can watch the game on NHL Network. The NHL Network will provide daily coverage of the WJC, which features the world’s best teen-age NHL prospects
- Here are the odds, the best bet, and information on how to watch the game
Monday’s game is a game that the Americans can’t afford to lose.
The Americans have already lost to Russia and will have a challenging task coming up against the Swedes. Should USA lose to the Czech Republic, the team might be looking at a fourth place finish in Group B. That would likely mean a quarterfinal meeting with tournament favorite Canada in the quarterfinals.
That’s why the Americans will treat this game against the Czechs with respect, even though the Americans have a roster deep with top NHL prospects. The Czechs are not one of the favorites in Group B
USA vs Czech Republic Odds
|USA||-1800||-2.5 (-115)||Over 5.5 (-110)|
|Czech Republic||+800||+2.5 (-105)||Under 5.5 (-110)|
Odds taken Dec. 27
Zegras Establishes Himself as USA’s Go-To Performer
Speedy forward Trevor Zegras, 2019 first-round draft pick, is showing why the NHL community believe he has an opportunity to be a contributor for the Anaheim Ducks in the upcoming NHL season.
He had two goals and two assists in Saturday’s 11-0 win against Austria, and now leads USA at the WJC with five points in two games. Zegras also led USA last season at the tournament with nine assists. He’s had strong chemistry with Alex Turcotte, another first rounder who could play for the Los Angeles Kings this season.
Zegras (ANA) was playing most of last years tournament on the 4th line. Now he’s up to 2 goals in as many games, and has been USA’s most dominant forward.#WorldJuniors pic.twitter.com/mkeiWvcGm9
— Patrick Tallon (@PatrickETallon) December 27, 2020
Zegras and Turcotte will have to be dominant players for USA to medal in this tournament. Although the Americans scored 11 against Austria, the team’s top two lines will need their top two lines to carry the load in the upcoming game. They will need goals out of Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings) and Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens). Neither has a goal yet.
Czechs Shouldn’t be a Major Threat
The Czechs were seventh in this tournament a year ago, and they haven’t won a medal at WJC since 2005. They have already lost 7-1 to Sweden. The Americans and Swedes have comparable depth.
What the Czechs lack is star power, although defenseman Stanislav Svozil is considered a potential NHL first round pick in 2021. Also keep an eye on Detroit Red Wings prospect Jan Bednar in goal. The Red Wings are high on him.
What the hell happened to the Czech Republic? 20 years ago they were the toast of the hockey world. Since then it’s been a slow decline to mediocrity. @iihf_wjc #WorldJuniors
— Walter Cranky (@WalterCranky) December 26, 2020
What the Czechs have are a group of solid, dependable players. That shouldn’t be enough against a USA team that has nine first-round picks. But the Czechs have history of pulling off upsets.
Do the Americans have a goalie controversy?
Florida Panthers prize prospect Spencer Knight was pulled from the net in USA’s opening loss to the Russians. Dustin Wolf replaced him and played impressively. Then he followed that up with a shutout against Austria.
A Calgary Flames prospect, Wolf posted a 1.88 goals-against average in the Western Hockey League last season.
The best guess is the Americans will go back to Knight against the Czechs because he is considered one of the world’s best young goalies. But the Americans said coming into the tournament that Wolf was viewed as a potential starter.
Through two relief appearances (including USA’s pre-tournament game vs Finland) and one start, Dustin Wolf has stopped all 28 shots faced. It’s too small of a sample size to make any bold declarations, but as has been the theme throughout his career, all he does is stop the puck. pic.twitter.com/zGCoNds4SO
— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) December 27, 2020
Americans Boast Too Much Firepower
Sometimes you can feel when there’s a chance for an upset, but this game doesn’t feel like that. The Americans have too much talent to fail in this game.
Pick: Over 5.5 (-110)