The United States and Sweden are gearing up for their anticipated matchup in the gold medal game of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia (NHLN-US, TSN) on Saturday.
The United States will stick with the same lineup it has used the last three games for obvious reasons -- the club has compiled 21 goals in three straight victories.
Additionally, the United States defense has chipped in with 10 goals and 27 points in six tournament games. That group is led by Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Trouba (four goals, eight points), 2013 draft-eligible standout Seth Jones (six assists, seven points) and Buffalo Sabres prospect and U.S. captain Jake McCabe (three goals, six points).
Sweden swept its group with wins over Latvia, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Finland to earn the bye to the semifinals where they edged host Russia in a shootout to reach the title game. The Swedes have many players who have faced the Americans in the IIHF World Under-18 Championship gold medal games the last two years -- both won by Team USA.
Here are the projected lineups for the game:
John Gaudreau - J.T. Miller - Jimmy Vesey
Alex Galchenyuk - Sean Kuraly - Riley Barber
Blake Pietila - Cole Bardreau - Ryan Hartman
Rocco Grimaldi - Vincent Trocheck - Tyler Biggs
Jake McCabe - Seth Jones
Patrick Sieloff - Jacob Trouba
Mike Reilly - Connor Murphy
John Gibson gets the nod in goal, with Jon Gillies the backup.
Starting goalie Gibson is 4-2 in six appearances at the WJC. He is tops among all tournament goalies with a 1.42 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.
Filip Forsberg - William Karlsson - Filip Sandberg
Sebastian Collberg - Elias Lindholm - Emil Molin
Alexander Wennberg - Viktor Arvidsson - Rickard Rakell
Victor Rask - Jacob de la Rose - Nick Sorensen
Jeremy Boyce Rotevall
Tom Nilsson - Mikael Wikstrand
Rasmus Bengtsson - Robert Hagg
Emil Djuse - Linus Arnesson
Niklas Lundstrom will start in goal and Joel Lassinantti will serve as backup.
Sweden coach Roger Ronnberg has watched his team persevere without the services of their top four on defense due to injury: Jesper Pettersson (broken wrist/shoulder), Oscar Klefbom (shoulder), Jonas Brodin (clavicle) and Hampus Lindholm (concussion). Klefbom (Edmonton Oilers), Brodin (Minnesota Wild) and Lindholm (Anaheim Ducks) all were first-round draft picks who were expected to fortify perhaps the deepest and most experienced blue line at the WJC this year.
Starting goalie Niklas Lundstrom, who earned a victory against Russia in the tournament semifinals with stops against Mikhail Grigorenko, Nail Yakupov and Nikita Kucherov in the shootout, sports a 1.45 GAA and .945 save percentage.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale