- Oddsmakers list Canada as -5.5 in the puckline against Slovakia in its IIHF World Junior Championship quarterfinal game on Thursday
- Canada is 11-0-1 all-time against Slovakia at the World Juniors
- The Canadians have won 10 in a row from the Slovaks, the last three victories all coming via shutout
Things were already looking rosy for Canada heading into Thursday’s quarterfinal game against Slovakia at the IIHF World Junior Championship. Then they got even better.
Forward Alexis Lafreniere, Canada’s best player, skated in practice Wednesday. Later, he was cleared to play in Thursday’s game. Lafreniere had missed the past two games. He suffered a knee injury in the only tournament loss by the Canadians, a 6-0 setback to Russia.
Perhaps that explains why there isn’t currently a moneyline wager on what already figured to be a lopsided win for Canada.
Slovakia vs Canada Odds
|Slovakia||OFF||+5.5 (-145)||Over 7.5 (-125)|
|Canada||OFF||-5.5 (+110)||Under 7.5 (-105)|
Odds taken Jan. 1.
The Canadians are 11-0-1 all-time against the Slovaks at the World Juniors. Canada has won 10 in a row from Slovakia.
Lafreniere Gets Go Ahead
When he twisted his left knee awkwardly after a goalmouth collision in the loss to Russia, Lafreniere looked to be done for the tourney. He gripped his left knee while writhing in agony. He required assistance to exit the rink and put no weight on his left leg as he left the ice.
— #WorldJuniors (@HC_WJC) January 1, 2020
An MRI revealed Lafreniere suffered no ligament tears or fractures.
In his brief four-plus periods of work, Lafreniere, the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2020 NHL entry draft, compiled 1-3-4 totals.
Canada Gets Wake Up Call
Perhaps the 6-0 rout handed to them by the Russians was just what the doctor ordered for Canada. Since that game, the Canadians have looked like a different team.
They opened with a 6-4 win over the USA. But it was a game in which Canada rallied from a 2-0 deficit and then squandered a 4-2 advantage.
In the aftermath of the embarrassing loss to the Russians, Canada’s proven dominant. The Canadians dumped Germany 4-1. They followed that up with a 7-2 rout of the Czech Republic, netting five power-play goals against the Czechs.
Canada finished atop Group B with a 3-0-0-1 record.
Slovakia In Tough
Finishing fourth in Group A, Slovakia was 1-0-0-3. Their lone win was a 3-1 verdict over winless Kazakhstan, the only country that didn’t pick up a single point during the group stage.
Slovakia has allowed a tournament-high 22 goals through four games. The Slovaks lost 8-1 to Finland, 7-2 to Switzerland and 6-2 to Sweden.
Their record against Canada is equally distressing. Slovakia’s lone point in head-to-head matchups with the Canadians came via a scoreless tie on Dec. 27, 1998.
In their last three meetings with Canada, the Slovaks have gone down to shutout defeats each time: 6-0 in 2018, 5-0 in 2017 and 8-0 in 2015.
What’s The Play?
With no moneyline wager on the board, you’re left with total and puckline options, and both offer solid betting options.
Slovakia’s three losses have all seen the total go over 7.5 goals. Canada scored seven times on a much better Czech team.
Take the over.
|1st Group B||Pool Play Finish||4th Group A|
|4.5||Goals For Per Game||2.0|
|3.25||Goals Against Per Game||5.50|
|9.5||Penalty Minutes Per Game||18.5|
Wagering Canada in the puckline and giving 5.5 goals to the Slovaks might seem like too much of a risk in a playoff game. But the Canadians have scored at least five times in nine of 12 World Junior games against Slovakia.
Canada has won by more than five goals in two of its last three meetings with the Slovaks.
Picks: Canada -5.5 (+110), Over 7.5 (-125).
Let's have fun and keep it civil.