As is tradition, the 2019 World Junior Championship officially drops the puck on Boxing Day. This year’s version starts with an impressive schedule of games on day one.
The early games start at 9 AM ET with underdog Kazakhstan starting their campaign to try to stave off relegation against Switzerland while one of the favorites, Russia, takes on the host Czech Republic. The late games beginning at 1 PM ET are even more stacked with two high end rivalry matchups. USA faces off against Canada while Sweden plays Finland. Both of these are premiere pairings that should give us an early read on four of the strongest contenders in this year’s tournament.
For Lightning fans, this slate of games features all three Bolts prospects who will be participating this year. First, you can catch 2019 third round pick Maxim Cajkovic for the Czechs against the Russians. In the afternoon, you can see 2019 first round pick Nolan Foote for Canada against the USA and 2019 third round pick Hugo Alnefelt will likely be starting in goal for the Swedes against the Finns.
Both Cajkovic and Foote are expected to be key offensive contributors for their teams. Cajkovic will have to play a strong all around offensive game if the Czechs are to have success. The Canadians will rely on Foote to score goals both at even strength and on the power play as he’ll be one of the best finishers on the ice for them. Alnefelt, despite being the youngest goalie on the Swedish roster, will probably get a chance to start and show that he’s ready to handle the crease internationally.
For more detail on the Lightning prospects and the tournament as a whole, be sure to read Lauren’s in depth preview of the tournament.
If you’re in the US, you can catch the games on NHL Network while TSN has the coverage in Canada.
Other hockey news
With the NHL still on break and yesterday being Christmas, there wasn’t much news out there. Mostly just various sites releasing “Teams of the Decade” type articles and whatnot. If you’re into that, NBC sports released their top ten players of the decade, which included Steven Stamkos at number nine.
The Sporting News Canada released Teams of the Decade for all the Canadian teams. You can find them on their site. They didn’t expand beyond the border though so we can’t get mad about a Lightning list.
If you’re craving a Lighting list, remember that Geo did one last week. The most telling thing about that list is how many of the players are currently on the team. That says a lot about this recent five year run of success compared to where the team was at the start of the decade.