The end of the preliminary round of the 2018 WJC looms just around the corner, and with that comes better competition, better performances, and better stories.
Jake Oettinger saw the start in goal for the Americans during the Canada vs. USA outdoor game on December 29th amidst the highly-criticized IIHF money grabber. Joseph Woll’s performance in the USA’s prior loss to Slovakia was certainly not his best, and it is unsure who the Americans will opt to play in goal moving forward after their victory against Canada.
Unsurprisingly, Sweden has seen a lot of success in the preliminary round. Timothy Liljegren has yet to record a point for the Swedes, but he has had flashes of offensive brilliance and has actively worked to create several high-quality scoring chances for his team.
Liljegren was the only Toronto prospect in action on day five and, as always, let’s take a look at his performance.
Timothy Liljegren (Sweden vs. Switzerland)
Here are the highlights from Sweden’s 7-2 victory over Switzerland:
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) December 30, 2017
Liljegren is due to earn himself a point given his consistently strong performances of late, but yet he still couldn’t make it onto the scoresheet today. He had a particularly strong third-period performance, leading offensive rushes and dancing around the Swiss defenceman:
— Janik Beichler (@JanikBeichler) December 30, 2017
Timothy Liljegren looks like he has the puck on a string in the third period. His transition game and ability to lead the rush is on full display
— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) December 30, 2017
His ice-time has averaged between 14 and 16 minutes in his past two games and today he totaled 16:30 TOI. The Swedes have been heavily reliant on Rasmus Dahlin but Liljegren has been given consistent opportunity to prove himself, both at even-strength and man-advantage play.
TImothy Liljegren finishes the game with 16:30 of ice time. Sweden really split up the ice time today, only one D had more than 19 minutes (Dahlin with 21:28).
— ??IanSweden?? (@regressIan) December 30, 2017
Liljegren and the Swedes are certainly capable of earning themselves a medal this year. Their strong defensive core and dominant offensive abilities leave them in a good position in the tournament. Liljegren has found a way to make himself stand out on a very strong Swedish team, though not in a very tangible way. Ideally, his play would remain more consistent from game to game, given that his performance today was his best at the World Juniors so far.
Day 6 Preview
Both Sweden and the USA will be in action on the last day of preliminary round play. The USA will take on Finland at 4 pm, and I would assume that Jake Oettinger will get the start for the Americans. Whoever the USA selects for tomorrow’s game will likely be the USA’s starting goaltender for the remainder of the tournament, though things could always change. Finland is a strong team and the Americans will be put to the test just two days after beating Canada.
Sweden will take on Russia at 8 pm tomorrow night. The Swedes will be looking to secure the top seed in Group B, hopefully continuing their dominance in the preliminary rounds of the tournament. The game should make for a good matchup, but an 8:00 game on New Year’s Eve likely won’t make for a highly attended/viewed event.