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Young U.S. defense hopes to slow Canada forwards

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com

MONTREAL -- The young defense corps for the United States will have its hands full when Canada's talented forwards come bearing down on them during the much-anticipated preliminary-round game between the United States and Canada at Bell Centre on Wednesday (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, NHL.com).

The winner will earn the No. 1 seed in Group A and play against the No. 4 seed from Group B in the quarterfinal round of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on Friday. The losing team will finish second in the Group and play the third-place team from Group B in the quarterfinals.

The one goal allowed by the United States so far is the fewest it's allowed through three games at the WJC; the previous low was three in 2011, when the U.S. won the bronze medal. The United States never has posted three shutouts at the WJC; it has two so far.

Canada is the highest-scoring team in the tournament through three games with 16 goals. It also has the top-ranked power play, going 5-for-10 in its first three games.

While Canada's forwards will test the U.S. defense often Wednesday, the U.S. has thrived despite three of its youngest players being defensemen: 2015 NHL Draft prospects Noah Hanifin, Zachary Werenski and Brandon Carlo. They have had the benefit of a veteran corps to help them, among them Will Butcher (Colorado Avalanche), Ian McCoshen (Florida Panthers), as well as goaltenders Thatcher Demko (Vancouver Canucks) and Brandon Halverson (New York Rangers). Demko will get the start against Canada.

Here are the projected lineups:

CANADA

Max Domi - Sam Reinhart - Anthony Duclair

Nick Ritchie - Connor McDavid - Curtis Lazar

Nicholas Paul - Nicolas Petan - Robby Fabbri

Lawson Crouse - Frederik Gauthier - Jake Virtanen

Brayden Point

Shea Theodore - Darnell Nurse

Madison Bowey - Joshua Morrissey

Joe Hicketts - Dillon Heatherington

Samuel Morin

Eric Comrie

Zachary Fucale

UNITED STATES

Tyler Motte - Jack Eichel - Alex Tuch

Miles Wood - Auston Matthews - Nick Schmaltz

Sonny Milano - Dylan Larkin - Hudson Fasching

Anthony Louis - J.T. Compher - John Hayden

Chase De Leo

Will Butcher - Brandon Carlo

Noah Hanifin - Ian McCoshen

Zachary Werenski - Anthony DeAngelo

Ryan Collins

Thatcher Demko

Brandon Halverson

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