A pair of semifinal berths will be on the line when the 2019 Ice Hockey World Championship returns to action Thursday in Slovakia.
Russia positioned itself as the team to beat after the group stage, going a perfect 7-0 and finishing with a plus-29 goal differential. The Czech Republic was nearly just as good, winning six games—its lone loss coming to Russia.
Canada came away as the Group A winner following a 3-0 victory over the United States on the final day.
Below is a look ahead to the quarterfinal round.
Canada vs. Switzerland, 10:15 a.m. ET
Russia vs. United States, 10:15 a.m. ET
Finland vs. Sweden, 2:15 p.m. ET
Czech Republic vs. Germany, 2:15 p.m. ET
Prediction: Czech Republic
Games are available to stream on the World Championship's YouTube page
Championship Odds (via Oddschecker)
Czech Republic (7-1)
United States (10-1)
Not surprisingly, Russia is the heavy favorite to go all the way and win its sixth gold medal in the World Championship and its first since 2014.
The Russians steamrolled through the competition in the group stage, showing little restraint for Group B's weaker teams. They defeated Austria and Italy by a combined score of 15-0.
Had it beaten Canada on Tuesday, Team USA would've topped Group A and thus met Switzerland in the quarterfinals. Instead, the U.S. has the gargantuan task of toppling Russia, a team that's allowing the fifth-fewest goals (175) and sitting first in save percentage (96.00).
The biggest mismatch on paper might belong to the Czech Republic's matchup with Germany.
Jakub Voracek (three goals, 12 assists) and Michael Frolik (seven goals, seven assists) are third and fourth in points and have powered a Czech attack that has registered a tournament-best 15.66 percent scoring rate.
The Czech Republic laid down a marker when it opened the group stage with a 5-2 win over Sweden.
Canada is looking for its 27th gold in the World Championship, which would tie the current mark set by the combined total of Russia and the Soviet Union.
Team Canada more than met expectations in the group stage, rebounding nicely after a defeat to Finland to open the tournament. The squad also delivered the most thrilling conclusion as Mark Stone scored the winning goal against Slovakia with one second left in regulation.
Switzerland will be a tricky opponent in the quarterfinals. Although the Swiss only scored 27 goals, they boasted a stingy defense (14 goals allowed on 179 shots).
Granted, Switzerland surrendered eight combined goals to Russia and the Czech Republic, so the defense could once again fall apart against a difficult foe.