The matchup to determine who'll earn the automatic bye into the semifinal round of the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship will take center stage on Friday (NHLN-US, TSN, 4 p.m. ET) when Sweden faces Canada in the final preliminary-round game for both teams in Group B.
Canada (3-0-0) and Sweden (3-0-0) enter Friday's clash with nine points apiece so there's certainly plenty at stake.
"Canada's strength is in the power play," Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg told NHL.com. "They have good guys who can really shoot and share the puck with the man advantage. We can't throw too many penalties today, we have to stay disciplined and hard and play the same physical game we did the last time we met them in Toronto (in an exhibition loss to the Canadians earlier this month). We have to play with more disciplined."
Ronnberg had some great things to say about the game and its importance in a story on NHL.com. Read it here
The U.S. National Junior Team (2 wins, 1 OT win), meanwhile, will look to take care of business on Friday night (NHLN-US, 8 p.m. ET) against Switzerland (2-1-0). If Finland losses to Slovakia, in a game scheduled to start 12:30 p.m., the U.S. would automatically finish first in Group A. Otherwise, a wins by the Finns would require the U.S. to come out victorious in order to earn that two-day layoff into the tournament semifinal round.
"I feel like one thing we needed to do, and we are, is getting better and better each game," U.S. defenseman Brian Dumoulin
said. "I feel like we've done that since the Finland game (a 3-2 overtime victory) and the German game, we've been getting better and better and getting closer as a team."
U.S. coach Keith Allain said goalie Jack Campbell
would make his fourth straight start between the pipes.
Needless to say, the Americans will have to pay close attention to New York Islanders
prospect Nino Niederreiter
. Niederreiter has 2 goals, 3 points and a plus-1 rating in three games for the Swiss in the tournament. He's also take a team-leading 13 shots on net.
"He's a dangerous player; I've played against him in the Western Hockey League and he's a threat out there so that's one guy we're going to have to watch," U.S. forward Mitch Callahan said. "He can certainly make plays."
Dumoulin also feels Niederreiter is a proven game-changer.
"They have one guy who can take over the game and control how they play and dictate the score of the game so we'll definitely be keying on him and making sure to shut him down," Dumoulin said. "As a full team, we can't really focus on one guy, we have to take care of business and worry about ourselves."
Allain knows that while Niederreiter has impressed in the tournament, it's a recipe for disaster to focus on just one player.
"He's their key offensive guys and it appears he's doing it all by himself right now," Allain said. "But, as a team, you never play one guy in hockey. Our impressions of Switzerland are they appear to more aggressive, more of a forechecking team, than Swiss teams of the past. We'll be ready for that."