Olympic Hockey Preview
The NHL stars are in Russia for a couple of weeks of intense Olympic hockey games, from Canada to the Russia there will be a lot of great hockey players partaking in a spectacle called the Olympics. For the players it is a chance to represent your country, for the fans it is a chance to see the best players for each country teaming up for one reason, that reason being a chance for a Gold Metal.
But what teams actually have the best shot at Gold? Personally my list is below on how I think it will shape out.
There really is no reason for the Canadians not to win this event, they have the best roster top to bottom full of skilled players. Canada really has no big weakness that I can see, the only thing I might question is the mental toughness of the goalies Carey Price and Roberto Luongo, but overall Canada on paper should retain its Gold Metal positioning.
Sweden also has a good all around team, the only thing that might stop Sweden from getting a metal is if the offense doesn’t click because their offense out of all of the teams that I think have a shot at getting a metal might be the worst, that isn’t to say it is bad, but it could be a deciding factor.
United States of America
This choice was the toughest because the final spot to me was between the USA, Slovakia and Finland. I choose the USA because I feel like they have the best goaltending of the three teams. Plus the USA might have the best defense in the entire tournament. The thing that scares me about the USA is the offense, because it isn’t that special and on the bigger sized rink that could be a huge disadvantage.
I think this team could be a surprise, if you look at their roster you will see a team that has some star power with players like Zdeno Chara, Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa and Jaroslav Halak, but you will also see a team that is incomplete and has some holes in it, the roster is missing its staying power unlike the Canadians, Swedes or Americans. However if the superstars step it up, the Slovaks can do some decent damage and possibly metal in either Bronze or Silver. But I don’t think that will happen.
Finland is a team with some really good goaltending, and a very good offense, but they also have a defense that might be the worst among the teams expected to make a serious run at a metal. The biggest factor could be Tuukka Rask for the Fins, without a strong goaltending performance the Finnish are in big trouble with that defense.
Russia has some capable goal scorers and overall a really solid offense, but the bad news for them is that their defense is suspect and the goaltending while good, it isn’t going to steal them a metal in my opinion. The Russians really need guys like Alexander Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk to step up and carry this team. Unfortunately given their NHL resumes, there is no reason to believe that they will be able to.
A team with a strong offense but holes in defense and in goal. The only good thing for the Czechs is that the rink is a big ice surface which could very well suit their team better than any other in the tournament.
Players From Non-Contenders To Watch
Micheal Grabner and Thomas Vanek (Austria)
Micheal Grabner has explosive speed and a really good shot and has potential to be a star in the NHL if he is put in the right situation, and currently he is playing along side John Taveres on the Islanders. Thomas Vanek is another player for Austria who has a great shot, but he isn’t blessed with speed like Grabner is. It is a shame these guys’ skill sets belong to a team that has just 3 NHL players on it.
Jan Mursak and Anze Kopitar (Slovenia)
Jan is a Detroit Red Wings prospect who appears to have a great future ahead of him. The 24-year-old is a winger with some goal scoring ability and he could very well have a coming out party if he is paired with Anze Kopitar. And judging from the talent on that team, there is no reason to believe that he won’t be paired along side Anze. Mursak also had a big impact in Detroit’s AHL affiliate Grand Rapids winning the Calder Cup during the 2012-2013 season.
Jonas Hiller (Switzerland)
A great goalie on a team that isn’t very good, but he could put up some solid numbers for the Swiss team that probably could surprise with how well they do since part of their roster is decent. But I just don’t think it is deep enough for them to be legitimate contenders for any of the metals.
Posted on February 11, 2014, in All Sports, Hockey and tagged anze kopitar, canada, czech republic, finland, hockey, jan mursak, jonas hiller, micheal grabner, olympic hockey, russia, slovakia, sochi 2014, sweden, thomas vanek, usa. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.