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Odds to Win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship: Canada Still Out in Front

Odds to Win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship

The best junior hockey tournament in the world is back in the Czech Republic for a fourth time, as the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship got underway in Ostrava and Trinec on December 26. In what’s become a yearly tradition, the Canadians are the favorites at sportsbooks to win the hardware.

Canada is the +135 favorite to go all the way at Bovada, with Russia (+270), Sweden (+290) and Finland (+550) trailing behind heading into the semifinals.

Action-Packed Few Weeks on Tap in Europe

The format for the tournament features two groups with five teams apiece competing in round-robin play, followed by a three-round playoff. In the round robin, three points are given for a regulation win, and two points for an overtime or shootout victory. One point is allotted for an overtime or shootout loss.

After group play, the four highest-ranked clubs from each group advance to the quarterfinals. For 2020, Group A consists of Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Slovakia and Kazakhstan, while the United States, Russia, Canada, Czech Republic and Germany comprise Group B.

Semifinals Are Set: Canada/Finland and Sweden/Russia

The top seeds from the group stage, Canada and Sweden, cruised through their quarterfinal matchups to earn their berths in the semifinals. The Canucks took on Slovakia in the first elimination round and secured a 6-1 triumph. The win also saw Alexis Lafreniere, the projected first overall pick for the 2020 NHL Draft,  return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

Meanwhile, the Swedes blanked the host Czech Republic 5-0. With that margin, Sweden leads the tournament with 20 goals for and is tied for fewest goals against at eight. Nils Hoglander, the Vancouver Canucks’ second-round pick from last year, tallied two goals and an assist in the quarterfinal victory and leads the tournament with 10 points on five goals and five assists.

Taking on the Canadians (-250) in the second of the two semifinals is Finland (+205), coming off a 1-0 victory over the USA. The Finns took two losses in group play, falling in overtime to the Swedes and in regulation to Switzerland. Finland has scored the second-most goals in the tournament (19) and has allowed the third-fewest (10). There was some concern that the team’s leading scorer, Kristian Tanus, might be suspended after a hit from behind in the USA game, but the IIHF didn’t hand down a suspension from the chippy game. Finland and Canada have combined to win five of the last six gold medals in this tournament.

The first of the two semifinals has the Russians (-110) taking on Sweden (-115). As mentioned, Sweden is tied for the fewest goals allowed this tournament, and it is tied with none other than Russia. The Swedes have gone 52-0 in group play since their last loss on December 31, 2006, and have been to the finals six times over that span but have only one gold medal to show for it, which has earned them the unflattering term of choke artists. Russia hasn’t appeared in the finals since 2016 and hasn’t won since 2011. There will be a lot of pressure on these two teams in what should be a tight, low-scoring affair.

Odds to Win the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship

Odds as of January 3 at Bovada