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:
Max Domi - Sam Reinhart - Anthony Duclair
Nick Ritchie - Connor McDavid - Curtis Lazar
Nicholas Paul - Nicolas Petan - Robby Fabbri
Lawson Crouse - Frederik Gauthier - Jake Virtanen
Shea Theodore - Darnell Nurse
Madison Bowey - Joshua Morrissey
Joe Hicketts - Dillon Heatherington
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