Sports handicapper Ian Cameron provides a betting preview of the World Cup Of Hockey games taking place on Monday, September 19 and Tuesday, September 20.
Russia vs. North America
We cashed a winning ticket with North America on Sunday night in their dominant 4-1 victory against Finland. Normally I would back the team that lost their first game over the team that won their first game in round robin tournaments like these but Russia looked terribly lethargic in their loss to Sweden and although they will be looking to avoid a 0-2 hole in the tournament, I thought North America would be a dangerous team from the beginning and they dominated Finland 4-1 in their opener last night registering over 40 shots in the process. Once again, solid value to back this team which definitely has a darkhorse chance of winning this event. It doesn't inspire confidence in the Russian cause either that they've had a recent history of flaming out early in these international hockey tournaments.
Recommendation: North America -115 at Bookmaker
Sweden vs. Finland
Sweden defeated Russia 2-1 in their opening tournament game while Finland was dominated in a 4-1 loss to North America in their first game but this is a fierce rivalry and I expect a very tight and competitive game between these two teams, all of which is considered in the betting odds as well. Henrik Lundqvist didn't play in Sweden's first game due to an illness and is questionable to return in net for Sweden on Tuesday. I don't penalize Finland as much for being defeated by a strong North American squad that I pegged as being a dark horse team in this tournament and I do believe the Fins have a much better game and performance in them and facing possible elimination from this tournament with one more loss should inspire them toward a much stronger effort in this game. Sweden controlled most of their game against Russia but never truly put them away and needed to hang on for a slim 2-1 victory in that game. I think this is a close game and that is why I'll back Finland at +1.5 goals on the puck line at -135 in this contest.
Recommendation: Finland PL +1.5 -135 (Sportsbook TBD)
USA vs. Canada
Team USA will look to bounce back from a disappointing 3-0 shutout loss to Europe on Saturday in their first tournament game. I think part of that very flat performance by the United States was due to their opponent. Team Europe is a mixture of players from Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway and Denmark among other nations and I'm not convinced the U.S. team had that utmost level of intensity for that game and it showed in their performance. They put up 40+ shots on goal but not a lot of them were high-quality scoring chances. I do believe facing a rival like Canada will get the United States full attention and we'll see a much better and stronger performance from them in this game with the very distinct possibility that another USA loss will end their tournament and send them home. Canada was dominant as ever in their first game a 6-0 shutout over the Czech Republic outshooting the Czechs 50-27 in the process. Canada is loaded with depth all over their roster both up front and on defense and their #1 goalie Carey Price didn't show any signs of rust or struggles in his first game of significance since returning from his knee injury stopping all 27 shots he faced. I expect a much better game and much more intensity from Team USA here with their backs against the wall and I think they make this a competitive game and I'll side with the U.S. on the puck line to keep it close.
Recommendation: USA PL +1.5 -125 (Sportsbook TBD)
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