3 Star keys for United States against Sweden at WJC


The NHL Network will air every game of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

It includes comprehensive coverage of the United States national junior team (2-0-0-1), which will play the final of four preliminary-round games in Group B against Sweden (2-0-0-0) on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NHLN). The United States, which won 7-0 against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, will play its quarterfinal-round match Saturday.

Longtime NCAA hockey analyst Dave Starman, who will handle the broadcast along with Stephen Nelson, will give his three keys to victory for the United States before each of its games during the 12-day tournament.


[RELATED: 2021 World Junior Championship schedule]


“Rarely do you win a game 7-0 and walk away feeling you accomplished something,” Starman said. “Well, we saw the Czech Republic struggle to pitch another perfect defensive game (as they did against Russia in a 2-0 win Dec. 27) against a (United States) team that I feel is better than the one they shut out. The United States should be given credit. Coaches, leadership and players stuck with their game plan, which was to figure out the best way to attack, get pucks to the net with bodies following and win the net-front battle.

“They also got the bagels out of the goal column for forwards Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens) and Arthur Kaliyev (Los Angeles Kings), which I think helps their confidence.”

Here are Starman’s 3 keys to victory for the United States against Sweden:


1. Continuing plan of attack

“It’s two-fold. One is to keep playing the way they’re playing offensively, and the other is staying with that plan. The United States showed tremendous offensive maturity in not getting frustrated like Russia did (against the Czech Republic). They didn’t try and turn the game into a one-man show and abandon the way the coaches wanted to play. Sweden will want to skate while being defensively conscientious, which should allow the U.S. top-six and their offensive-minded defensemen to activate and engage.”


2. Continue to stay disciplined

“If there’s anything at all that players for the U.S. have bought into, it has been staying out of the penalty box and taking stupid penalties. Discipline has been good, stick penalties have been non-existent, and there has been no retaliation penalties on a couple of borderline hits when their last two games got out of hand. If that keeps up, it bodes well because power-play goals have won gold medals. After (the quarterfinal round), you might not have time to get back that one power-play goal you allow.”


3. Low to high

“United States forwards have been good getting to loose pucks and controlling from and below the hashmarks. They are using the points better, and that has to continue. They have forwards who can shoot missiles but utilizing their defense to get pucks into the paint allows a line like Brett Berard (New York Rangers), John Farinacci (Arizona Coyotes) and Bobby Brink (Philadelphia Flyers) to wreak havoc in front of the net.

“Lastly, a bonus. Alex Turcotte (Kings) is about to break out. He’s doing a lot right. He’s getting shots and is playing hard. Turcotte could get hot quick, and that could be the spark that puts this group over the edge.”

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