Friday, January 29, 2010

Olympics Preview and Predictions

With two weeks left until the Olympics, my patience is wearing thin.
So to pass the time, let's take a look at the participants.

Here
are the current rosters for each Olympic hockey team.

Here's a look at some of them:

Sweden: The days of accusing Swedes of being floaters are over. True, they still value highly skilled players who can pass and skate circles around you, but they're tough to knock off the puck too. The only weak spot may be in goal, with Henrik Lundqvist. But as he is used to having zero goal support, he may find the Olympics a walk in the park compared to having to bail out his team every night. Their defense is excellent, and the offense is superbly skilled. Gold medalists again.

Canada: An all-NHL team, replete with the best line in hockey of Heatley/Thornton/Marleau. An outstanding team, and one that expects to win it all. You can't argue with Brodeur, the Sharks' scoring powerhouse, and Scott Niedermayer all working together, but they do have some very young players as well. The defense is largely comprised of grind-it-out types. My pick to win Silver.

Russia: My pick for Bronze. You can't go wrong with Malkin, Ovechkin, Semin, Datsyuk, and Kovalchuk on offense. But after the first two lines, the talent drops off a bit to include a lot of players from the KHL. Some of those KHL'ers are former NHL players, and their days of being able to keep up with the competition they'll be facing may be over. Nabokov will do well in goal, but Russia may find itself out-maneuvered in the line-matching department.


Slovakia
: This year's Dark Horse, I am picking them to lose the bronze medal game. The IIHF has them ranked 10th in the world, but they are truly underrated. Jaroslav Halak is having a good season, and if he can bring that to Vancouver, he may just shock everyone. The problem with Slovakia is, just like Halak, there are a lot of "ifs." IF Gaborik can keep up his torrid scoring. IF Marian Hossa brings the same A-game he has to Chicago. IF Zdeno Chara can elevate the rest of his defensemen. There is a LOT of talent on this team, showing that they are finally coming up alongside their twin...



Czech Republic: An always stalwart team, but the days of their dominance over their former countrymen may be over. There are really no standout players on the team, and the stars they have are either of middle-stature on the super all-star scale, or are way past their prime (I'm looking your way, Jaro).

Finland: This year it may be Slovakia vs Czech Republic for an interesting geographical rivalry. Last time around it was Finland and Sweden. Finland develops hockey players like North Americans. They usually come into the NHL as good checkers and with balanced defensive skills to match their offense. In fact, a common complaint of native Finns is that their players are too much like grind-it-out North Americans, without the razzle-dazzle of the hated Swedes. The team has no real superstars except for Kiprusoff and Selanne, but the one word that best describes the Finns is "heart."

USA: A good, but not great team. They will definitely be good enough to beat up on the lower-tiered teams at the Olympics, but will have their hands full with the elite ones. Who knows? Maybe they'll pull out an upset.

The also-rans include the Swiss, Norway, Latvia, Belarus, and Germany.

Disagree? Agree? Post some comments, dammit.

4 comments:

Capt. Sparrow said...

I'm gonna go with Motha Russia to win gold. I think the fire power they have up front with the first two lines and Nabokov in net will be enough to get it done. The game is changing into an offensive game and I think Russia winning gold will be clear proof of it.

Habsfan1993 said...

Russia could very well go all the way, you're right. But their bottom two forward lines don't scare anyone, and can't serve as adequate checkers against the top lines of Canada and Sweden. But who knows? Those top two lines scare EVERYONE, you're right. It could all hang on Nabokov. I'll be watching their games (except against USA, of course) with my Kovy-Russia jersey on. Or that Ovechkin one I bought from your friend.

I'm still extremely confident that my top four teams (Sweden, Canada, Russia, Slovakia) will finish in some order at the top, though maybe not in the order I predicted.

Habsfan1993 said...

Here's an awesome page about two goalie masks. Motha Russia!
http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Behold-the-glory-of-Olympic-goalie-masks-for-Mil;_ylt=ApzjuXzzMpGnZETIAblWwfhotLV_?urn=nhl,216496

Capt. Sparrow said...

Love the Ryan Miller mask. I also love the Sarah Palin mask they have linked on there! I think Tim Thomas should wear it. Too bad we'll never get to see it with his a$$ riding the pine behind Miller lol.