Road To The Repeat Part IV: USA Survives Finland, Secure 2nd Seed Heading Into World Juniors Quarterfinals

Canada v United States - 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship

Team USA didn’t get any help from scheduling so far these World Juniors. I’m not one for excuses but having to play Slovakia the day before playing Team Canada outdoors is a tough order for a couple reasons. 1) Because the team had to practice outdoors the day before the Slovakia game. And 2) Because clearly they had Canada on their minds during that entire game on Thursday night. That doesn’t make up for the horrific defensive zone breakdowns they had during that game but all I’m saying is that loss to Slovakia was merely a speed bump in their road to the repeat. The next day they managed to avoid catastrophe against Canada and came back from being down 3-1 in the 3rd period to beat the Canadians 4-3 in a shootout. Getting 2 points out of that night as opposed to 0 have the group standings looking like this.

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A win of any kind today will allow the Americans to avoid having to play against Sweden or Russia in the quarterfinals. Canada has already locked up that #1 seed in Group A so they’ll have Switzerland in the quarters. The loser of today’s USA vs Finland game will have the #2 seed in Group B which will either be Sweden or Russia depending on the outcome of their game tonight at 8. The winner will start off with the Czech Republic. Here are the odds of today’s game courtesy of Bovada.

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And here’s what the lineup will look like for Team USA today who will be without Will Lockwood and Logan Brown at forward.

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I’m a big fan of having Brady Tkachuk and Casey Mittelstadt back on the same line. They have clearly been USA’s best players so far this tournament (outside of Jake Oettinger after the 1st period on Friday). Finland’s a great team defensively but I think having 7-11 together will cancel out their blueline whenever they’re on the ice. The only player on Finland that really worries me offensively is Eeli Tolvanen. Kid has a sniper rifle with the safety always off. Do snipers have safeties? I’m not a big gun guy. Regardless, as long as the Americans can take care of him, I see the boys coming out of here with 3 points.

Make sure to follow along on Twitter @BarstoolJordie for streaming info/updates/GIFs/etc. The blog will be updated after every period.

***Live Blog Officially ACTIVATED***

End of the 1st: USA 2, Finland 0

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The boys are ripping salts and they’re ready to go. Let’s do that hockey.

Team USA was looking to get a fast start on today’s game after coming out of the gate a little flat against Slovakia and Canada. Well that quick start was given to them by Bruins’ prospect Trent Frederic scoring just about 4 minutes into the game.

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Really confident move by Frederic to drag this puck around the defender instead of just shooting as soon as the puck touched his stick. Changes up his release and the boys have the early lead.

Like I said coming into this game, Team USA needs to keep Tkachuk and Mittelstadt on the same line for the rest of the tournament. They link up here to give the Americans a 2-0 lead on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play.

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If the Sabres manage to have themselves a top 3 pick in the draft this year, they better take Brady Tkachuk because having these 2 together for the next decade with Eichel in the middle will be one of the best lines in hockey.

End of the 2nd: USA 4, Finland 2

And on the powerplay, Captain America Joey Anderson gets his first goal of the World Juniors to put the Americans up 3-0.

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I’ll be honest. I feel pretty comfortable with Finland now needing to score 4 goals for USA to lock up the 2-seed in Group A. Unfortunately, they’ve already started to chip away at that lead as Aapeli Rasanen sniped Joe Woll right after the USA powerplay to make it a 3-1 game.

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40 minutes left. Buckle up, folks.

Again, like I said, Eeli Tolvanen is a sniper with his safety always off. You give this kid any opportunity and he’ll take advantage of it. Unfortunately, Team USA gave him that opportunity and he cut the lead to 3-2 on the powerplay.

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Any shot this kid takes has a chance to find the back of the net. Team USA needs to make sure they take care of him for the rest of the night or else this thing could get away from them.

Luckily, Captain America Joey Anderson was able to get a powerplay goal himself and get the lead back to 2 heading into the 3rd.

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A bit of a lucky bounce but a huuuuuuge goal for Team USA with just 20 minutes left to play. Stay out of the box and they get out of this game with 3 points. Keep giving Finland powerplay opportunities and who knows.

20 minutes to go. Buckle the heck up.

Final Update: USA 5, Finland 4

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Special teams have been killing USA so far today. It’s been a couple of powerplay goals for the Finns already. This time it’s Joona Koppanen on the penalty kill making it a 4-3 game in the 3rd.

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66 seconds after that, it was Kristian Vesalainen tying this game up at 4-4

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Currently 6 minutes to go. 4-4 game. Need Team USA to pull their heads out of their asses here. Just give Tkachuk and Mittelstadt all of the shifts.

And BANG. Tkachuk and Mittelstadt line gets a shift and it’s Casey Mittelstadt to Adam Fox for the 5-4 lead with just 97 seconds left to play.

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Gutsy, gutsy win for the Americans here. In the World Juniors, you need to rely on your best players. And when the Americans needed him the most, Casey Mittelstadt got the puck to Adam Fox and Fox buried that goal to secure the 2nd seed in Group A. They’ll either have Russia or the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals depending on how this Russia vs Sweden game ends tonight.

See you all in 2018.

@BarstoolJordie