World Junior 2013: U.S. vs. Slovakia, Canada vs. Russia [games thread]

Rivals. - Richard Wolowicz

The U.S. and Slovakia vie for third place in the group, while Canada faces host Russia in what could be the WJC's most bitter first-round encounter.

Yesterday's thread for the U.S. vs. Canada prompted some great comments and observations on the game, so we'll do it again for the morning's two key matchups televised on North American TV.

First at 5 a.m. EST, the U.S. faces Slovakia in what is a must-win for both teams, tied at three points each and in need of clearing over the other to stay in medal contention. After that one comes the most anticipated match of the World Junior Hockey Championship preliminary round: Host Russia vs. tourney favorite Canada for first place in Group B.

As an added theatrical wrinkle, the game matches the last two NHL first-overall picks in future Edmonton Oilers teammates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov. But of course New York Islanders fans are more intrigued by watching the development of Ryan Strome, who is increasingly showing that he's nothing left to master at the junior level.

Canada vs. Russia broadcasts live at the merciful hour of 8:30 a.m. EST on TSN (Canada) and NHL Network (U.S., carrying TSN's feed), with replays at multiple times throughout the day.

Nugent-Hopkins and Strome continue to be 1-2 at the top of the tournament scoring leaderboard, and Canada enters with a perfect record after yesterday's defeat of the U.S. The winner of today's encounter gets a bye and positions themselves for what is likely the smoothest path in the medal round.

As with yesterday, enjoy, share what you see, and brew not-as-strong coffee if you're catching this live.

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