Canada and Finland neck-in-neck in world championship hockey betting odds

World Championship Hockey

In May, the IIHF will host the 86th annual World Championships for men’s hockey. The event is one of the most followed throughout Canada, even in spite of the fact that the NHL runs concurrently with the international tournament. This year, the top division will be fought between Tampere, Finland and Riga, Latvia.

Despite the fact that the World Championship receives relatively little attention compared to the Stanley Cup, it’s one of the most-followed events in the sport. And while many global stars remain tied up with the NHL during the World Championship series, that just means it gives hardcore hockey fans more of an opportunity to forecast and size up the sport’s most promising rookies.

For many, it’s an artform on par with March Madness’s bracketology. With hockey betting lines focused on Finland and Canada, analysts are combing through each team’s rosters and starting to make their predictions. With Canada and Finland neck-and-neck as the next tournament approaches, here’s what you need to know about the favourites in the top division – and a little extra coverage on nations that are now competing in the DIV division.

Canada vs. Finland

Officially, Canada sits tied with Finland with World Championship odds of +250. Close behind is Sweden with +400 and the Czech Republic with +750. Throughout the Great White North, Team Canada is the clear favourite, even if Finland is coming off a win. As part of the Big Six, the team is regularly a contender for the title (and holds the record for the most with Russia/Soviet Union).

 But this year, there’s bound to be another blow-by-blow battle between Finland and Canada, which have traded gold and silver medals for the past three years of the tournament. In 2019, Finland beat Canada for gold; the opposite happened at the next tournament in 2021 before Finland again swept gold last year in 2022. If previous matchups hold the key to predicting the next outcome, then it seems that Canada is in store for gold and Finland for another silver medal.

In fact, Team Canada just took home gold at the IIHF World Junior Championships, hinting that all might be in order for another gold medal. However, it’s too soon to predict how Canada and Finland’s rosters will pan out during the tournament, as the NHL, SHL, and KHL are still active. The NHL, in particular, tends to dictate which players will be eligible to compete in May, as the playoffs run from April through June.

World Championship Hockey

Hungary & Slovenia Up from DI

Most hockey fans will remain glued to their screens any time Finland and Canada take the ice. However, as mentioned above, the World Championships are a great time to forecast potential underdogs. And that’s especially true for the teams competing in the DI to DIV divisions, below the top tier.

Last year, Slovenia and Hungary managed a promotion to the Top Division, which means they’ll have to scrap with fourteen other opponents if they want to avoid relegation. With significantly fewer players contracted in the NHL, building a roster isn’t quite as difficult, with fewer league intersections.

The last Hungarian player drafted by the NHL was Janos Vas back in 2002. Meanwhile, the Slovenian team doesn’t have a single player signed to a major hockey league. As such, both teams, along with Austria, are slated to finish at the bottom of the Top Division. But of these three teams, only two will be relegated.

Battle in DIV

A lot of fans like to keep an eye on Top Division underdogs. Sometimes, their wagers aren’t focused on which team will nab a gold medal, but which teams will avoid relegation. Given the competition is a bit tighter at the bottom of the pool, this creates more excitement and unpredictability. However, some fans instead like to keep an eye on the lowest rung of IIHF competition: Division IV.

In late March, four teams will battle it out in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, to fight for promotion to DII. These teams aren’t from nations where ice hockey is popular and will feature the likes of the Indonesian, Mongolian, Filipino, and Kuwaiti national teams. This makes it a highly intriguing series to follow for diehard fans, even if the stakes are relatively low.

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