The 2018 World Junior Championships are entering the quarterfinals today, which means that group play has ended and teams are going into “win or go home” scenarios. The Philadelphia Flyers have four prospects playing in the tournament, and three of them still have a chance at gold.
Team Canada’s gold medal hopes still ride on the shoulders of top goalie prospect Carter Hart. Hart went 2-0-0-1 in his three starts during group play, with the lone loss coming in a shootout to Team USA in unusual conditions. The outdoor game certainly was a spectacular, but not necessarily something you want to use to judge talent.
Hart stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced in the opening game, with Finland only beating Hart on a power-play deflection and on a backdoor play in front. His intermission superstition was also shared with the world during that game.
He made 32 saves against Team USA, but they scored two power-play goals, and one at even strength, to force overtime and a shootout, where they eventually won. Hart was named the player of the game for Canada, however.
Hart closed out group play with a 18-save shutout against Denmark, and will be to go-to guy for Canada the rest of the way.
Canada will play Switzerland on Tuesday in the quarterfinals, who they beat easily in pretournament play, and are set up to face the winner of Czech Republic vs. Finland in the semifinals on Thursday.
Carter Hart ended group play with a 2-0-0-1 record in three starts. He stopped 79 of 85 shots for a .929 save percentage and 1.95 goals against average. He had one shutout, and only allowed three non-power-play goals in his three starts. His SV% (.9294) was just behind Slovak Roman Durny’s (.9304) for the best in the preliminary stage.
German Rubtsov had a good performance in four games in his final year at the World Juniors with Team Russia.
Rubtsov’s biggest game came against Belarus in a 5-2 win. He scored a goal and added an assist, while getting four shots on goal and compiling a +2 rating. He also showed off his creativity for two assists in Russia’s opening game, a loss to the Czech Republic.
He only got four points in four games, but he deserved more. His two-way game was on full display and he set up a handful of scoring chances in every game. His game looks like it can translate well as he progresses through the ranks.
German Rubtsov finished the group stage of the World Junior Championship with one goal, three assists, a +4 rating, and eight shots on goal in four games.
Russia will play Team USA on Tuesday night in the quarterfinal with the chance to advance to the semifinal against the winner of Sweden and Slovakia.
Maksim Sushko has done Belarus proud as captain in this year’s World Junior Championship, even if they haven’t been able to find a win.
Sushko has undoubtedly been his team’s best player. The Belarus Captain finished group play with a team-high four points in four games. He scored once and added three assists, while compiling 11 shots on goal. He also had a +1 rating, which is impressive given his usage on a team that was outscored 20-10 in four games.
He was named the player of the game after a goal and an assist to keep Belarus in a hard-fought loss against Switzerland last week.
Sushko and Belarus will play in relegation games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday against Denmark.
Linus Hogberg has got minimal playing time for a Sweden team that is loaded on the blue line.
He was a +1 with no points through four games for a Swedish team that is looking pretty good so far. They could be the favorites heading into the quarterfinals.
Sweden will play Slovakia on Tuesday, with the winner of USA vs. Russia lined up on Thursday.
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