After suffering an unexpected loss to the Czech Republic in the opening round of the 2023 World Juniors, the Canadians won six straight to claim the tournament title. Despite only having one skater back, the Canadians are heavy favorites for the first match against Finland.
The two-time reigning champion is in the building.
Canada’s quest for an elusive third straight World Junior Hockey Championship title begins Tuesday against Finland. This is a rematch of the 2022 gold medal final, which Canada won in overtime.
That’s part of the reason they’re -275 favorites to win the hockey odds. However, the Fins are no slouches as they have the fourth-best odds of clinching the trophy.
Read below for my preview of the World Junior Hockey Championship and free betting options.
Canada vs Finland odds
|win in regulation
|5.5 or higher (-110)
|Less than 5.5 (-110)
Odds provided by Sports Interaction as of December 25, 2023.
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Canada vs Finland picks and predictions
It takes a lot of skill to get the second-best odds in a tournament that only has one returning player from last year’s title team. Three-peat forward Owen Beck, the Montreal Canadiens’ prospect and the only returnee, has +250 odds, and that’s where the Canadians see themselves.
But Canada’s talent tree is deep and this year is no different, with forward Macklin Chebrini expected to contribute right away despite being the youngest player on the roster. The 17-year-old, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NHL entry draft, played in 15 games for Boston College and had 10 goals and 15 assists, which ranks fourth in the NCAA.
He will be flanked by forward Matthew Poitras. He has been with the Boston Bruins all year, but is on loan for the annual holiday event.
These are two of Canada’s nine first-round picks in the 2022 and 2023 NHL Draft.
If there’s one team that won’t be phased by facing the Canadians in the opener, it’s the Fins, who have run the gamut of the WJHC’s best and worst over the past five years.
They have won the title since 2019 and then suffered a bitter defeat in the championship final in 2022. They also won a bronze medal in 2021 after losing the same match in 2020. They are trying to bounce back from their most disappointing result in five competitions a year ago, when they lost 3-2 to Sweden and failed to climb out of the quarter-finals. .
Unlike Canada, which has a dotted roster of talented players, the Fins don’t have a very strong pipeline, so a significant absence would be a blow.
Forward Joakim Kemer, a member of the Nashville Predators, is staying with his AHL club in Milwaukee. Top defenseman Aaron Kibiharju is also out due to injury.
In their absence, look for Devils prospect Leni Hamenaho to shine by introducing forward Konsta Helenius, likely one of the top prospects in 2024.
Perhaps a less supercharged Finnish team will dig deeper into their defensive system to keep the games close.
Canada doesn’t have to worry about that, but they showed they can make up for it by going toe-to-toe with the favorites, the Americans, in the final, losing 6-5 in overtime.
My best bet: 5.5 goals or more (-110 in SIA)
Canada vs Finland money line and over/under analysis
A year ago, Canada’s only loss on the money line was a 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic in the tournament opener.
After this loss, Canada won six straight games en route to the tournament title, defeating the Czech Republic 3-2 in the final.
Their moneyline odds mostly stay in the -220 range.
As for Finland, they had a disappointing result in last year’s tournament, with two wins and three losses overall, including their first match against Switzerland. Their underdog odds mostly stay in the +160 range.
In total, Canada eclipsed that scoring line of 5.5 goals in six of seven tournament games a year ago, and the Fins eclipsed that scoring line twice in five games in Halifax.
In pre-tournament games, Canada scored at least 5.5 goals in all three games, including an 8-0 win over Denmark’s U25 team and a 6-3 win over Switzerland. Finland defeated Czech Republic 4-1 and Slovakia 5-1 in pre-tournament matches.
Canada vs Finland betting trends you should know about
Canada had won the opening six games of the World Junior Hockey Championship before losing the opening game to the Czech Republic in 2023.
Canada vs Finland match information
|Scandinavium, Gothenburg, Sweden
|Tuesday, December 26, 2023
|8:30am (Eastern Standard Time)