The gem on a full slate of world junior hockey activity on Day 1, the Russians invade Toronto to take on the hosting Canucks in a significant tone-setting matchup. Canada got a scare in its final pre-tournament game, just barely scratching by the Swiss at a 4-3 victory. The Canadians outshot Switzerland 32-14 but ran right into a hot goaltender. They’ll need to be greater on Boxing Day if they wish to get their tournament started in the right direction in the Air Canada Centre.
When hosting canada has medaled since 2012 but has never failed to medal.
The last time the teams met on Canadian soil, Canada beat Russia from the 2015 gold medal game.
Canada has 5.
Canada is generally dealt with an easier opponent in its original WJC match but a sixth-place complete last year caused a Group B placing with different heavyweights USA and Russia. Canada’s roster this season does not feature the superstars it has in years past but it is still incredibly well-rounded. They’re by far the deepest team in the championship and will be anchored by facilities Dylan Strome (2015 third overall draft pick) and Mathew Barzal (2015 16th overall draft pick).
The Russians are far more seasoned team with a roster chock filled with world junior veterans. They have medaled out six decades right but are in tough to outlast a Canadian group that is four lines deep which traditionally provides the Russians difficulties in this tournament. This squad will most likely be in contention in the late phases but it will take a mighty effort for Russia to escape its first match with any points.
It’s tough to locate a participant on the Canadian roster who was not either drafted in the first round or who isn’t projected to go from the opening round of the upcoming NHL draft. The Canucks would be the favorites to win this championship as well as the -375 favorites to win their opener against Russia.
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