As the host team for the 2014 World Junior Championship, Sweden has so far avoided the trap of being a highly-favored host that suffers an ignominious defeat at the hands of a weaker opponent. But the stakes get a little higher for the Swedes with the end of the preliminary round and the start of the playoff round, which sees them facing plucky Slovakia in their quarterfinal match.
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The second quarterfinal contest taking place on Thursday at the 2014 World Junior Championship features Finland facing off against the Czech Republic. Finland was probably the more accomplished of the two teams during the preliminary round, but not by so wide a margin that a Czech victory is unthinkable.
With the preliminary round now in the books, eight of the 10 teams taking part in the 2014 World Junior Championship can look forward to battling it out for medals beginning with the four quarterfinals matches on Thursday. But the other two teams on the outside looking in, Germany and Norway, are in the more precarious position of having to qualify for next year's top level of the WJC.
When being chosen for a tournament roster such as those of the countries taking part in the 2014 World Junior Championship, a player may have to accept a role that is quite different from the one that the player has on their main club.
The Florida Panthers currently have four players on their NHL roster who can still be considered prospects. Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Dylan Olsen, and Jimmy Hayes are all seeing regular shifts for Florida, and all have been effective at that level. There are also a handful of prospects at the AHL level who are either NHL-ready or not far off.
Heading into the 2014 World Junior Championship, it was thought that this tournament could serve as a true launching pad for Canadian hockey prodigy, Connor McDavid. Instead, McDavid blended in with the rest of his Team Canada teammates through the first three games of the tournament, much to the disappointment of some observers.
With the clock winding down in regulation and the score deadlocked at 2, Sweden forward Jacob de la Rose drifted towards the front of the Russian goal to deflect a shot by Gustav Olofsson past Russia's goaltender Andrey Vasilevskiy to give Sweden the 3-2 lead and the win at the 2014 World Junior Championship.
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