Montreal Canadiens: One Prospect Will Advance to World Junior Gold Medal Game Today

VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 28: Alexander Romanov #26. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - DECEMBER 28: Alexander Romanov #26. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Montreal Canadiens sent four of their best prospects to the World Juniors this year. Two of them were eliminated in the quarter-finals and the other two will face each other in a semi-final today.

The Montreal Canadiens had four of their best prospects taking part in the World Junior Hockey Championships. All of them were playing on deep teams that had their sights set on a gold medal, but only one of them is going to take part in the gold medal game tomorrow. We will find out who that is later today.

While Cole Caufield and Jordan Harris lost in disappointing fashion to Finland in the quarterfinal on Thursday, Alexander Romanov and Mattias Norlinder moved on with wins that same day. Now, those two defenceman will go head-to-head as Russia takes on Sweden with a ticket to the final on the line.

Norlinder has been the seventh defender for Sweden and while he averaged close to 11 minutes per game during the preliminary round, he played just 7:33 in the quarterfinal against the Czech Republic. Half of that came in the third period alone when the game was becoming out of reach for Czech Republic who ultimately fell 5-0 to the powerful Swedish team.

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Sweden have a very deep group of defenders with five first round draft picks, a second round pick and Norlinder who was a third round pick by the Canadiens. There is a lot of skill on both of these teams, so I would expect a close game. With it being such an important game, I wouldn’t expect to see a lot of Norlinder unfortunately. He has played well when called upon, but with so many great defensemen on the team, he is the seventh option and will be used sparingly today.

While Norlinder will watch most of the game from the bench, he will get to see a lot of a likely future teammate in Alexander Romanov. The Russian left defenceman won the award for top defender as this tournament last year, and is on a short list to win the award again with his strong play this time around.

Romanov played the second most minutes on the team in their 3-1 victory over Switzerland in the quarterfinal. He has averaged the second most time on ice throughout the tournament as he plays power play, shorthanded and lots of even strength time. Romanov has a goal and four points in five games and has only been on the ice for a single even strength goal against thus far.

The Russians will lean heavily on Romanov once again today and use him to try to shut down some of the top players on the Swedish team. That will be a tough task as Nils Hoglander and Samuel Fagemo are the top two scorers in the tournament.

If anyone can keep them in check, it will be Romanov. He has looked great at both ends of the ice throughout this tournament and will be playing a lot of heavy minutes for Russia today as they try to advance to the gold medal game.

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Either way, one of the Canadiens top left defence prospects will be moving on to the final. We will find out when the puck drops today at 9:00 A.M. Eastern time.