Bedard Living Up to the Hype
Connor Bedard was a highly touted prospect before the IIHF World Junior Championships got underway. However, playing in Canada and putting on one of the most impressive showings in recent memory has only increased his profile.
The next step is to lead Canada to the gold medal. First, comes a semifinal showdown on Wednesday night against the U.S. team. Czechia beat Sweden in the other semifinal.
The hockey betting lines list Canada as the moneyline favorite at -180.
The bronze-medal game is Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET followed by the gold-medal game at 6:30 at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Let’s check the latest NHL picks, stats, injury reports, and NHL predictions. We’ve plenty of NHL expert picks for you to consider.
Time to Get Defensive
The U.S. is fourth in the tournament with a goals-against average of 2.42 and will need to pay attention to detail whenever Bedard is on the ice.
The U.S. has only allowed two power-play goals in 13 attempts while Canada is tied for the most times short-handed heading into the semifinals.
The U.S. has some talented offensive players as well even if the sportsbook lists the Americans as an underdog.
Logan Cooley (5 goals, 6 assists), Jimmy Snuggerud (5 goals, 5 assists), and Cutter Gauthier (2 goals, 6 assists) lead the offense and are a combined +25.
The eight goals and 13 assists in five games only begin to tell the story of what Bedard has been accomplishing in the tournament.
While there have been some good players taken first overall in recent drafts, Bedard is being talked about in the same sentence as players like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby.
There were some raised eyebrows at certain teams getting rid of talented players in the offseason, and there was more than a mention that this was part of the quest to land the gifted Bedard.
Bedard broke the record of 19 points by a Canadian player in the tournament. Dale McCourt had 19 points in 1977 and Brayden Schenn matched that number in 2011. His 34 career points broke Eric Lindros’ record by a Canadian player, and he has the most goals by a player from Canada, breaking Jordan Eberle’s record.
The bitter USA vs. Canada rivalry is set for Wednesday thanks to Connor Bedard’s overtime heroics for Canada in the quarterfinals 🇨🇦https://t.co/Lv19SAinBj
— Hockey Night in Canada (@hockeynight) January 4, 2023
Bedard has some work to do to catch Peter Forsberg , who set the tournament record with 31 points in 1993.
“Everyone talks about how good a goal scorer he is, but from watching him for a short period of time, he’s able to control the play, slow down the play when he wants and find the open man,” Schenn told NHL.com. “He’s a dynamic goal scorer but from the looks of things, he has such great vision that he finds his teammates and draws guys to him, which forces other guys to be open and he makes that play.”
North American Dominance
Canada and the U.S. have combined to win seven of the last 10 gold medals in the event. Finland won the other three but failed to reach the semifinals after losing to Sweden in the quarterfinals.
Canada won in 2022, beating Finland in the final. In 2021, it was the U.S. topping Canada in the gold-medal game.
Where Will Connor Land?
Chicago is 8-25-4 and currently has the fewest points in the NHL. Anaheim and Columbus have 24 points so they would be the leading contenders to get the first overall pick.
There is a draft lottery and there have been those who suggested that the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blatant tanking to secure the rights to Mario Lemieux with the first pick in the 1984 draft ultimately led to the lottery.