Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Olympic Hockey

Men's Olympic Hockey begins today with USA playing Switzerland. I for one am really excited to see this tournament get underway. Seeing all the skill some of these teams are going to be able to put on the ice at the same time is just astounding. The favorite to take home the gold, is obviously the Canadian team, but stranger things have happened, and there are several teams that will push Team Canada for that gold medal.

The Pools

Group A:

Group B:
Czech Republic

Group C:

The Breakdown

Group A:
Canada should win Group A. They are the most talented and deepest team in the group. However, they have a ton of pressure on them to perform well since they are playing at home, and hockey is Canada's national sport. Team USA could win the group if they play a tight checking game against Canada to limit their scoring chances, while taking advantage of the ones they get against Roberto Luongo and Martin Brodeur. Switzerland already lost their opener to Team USA, so they have a very slim chance at winning the group. I don't know much about Norway, but they'll be fighting Switzerland for third place in the group.

Group B:
This is the toughest group out of the three in my opinion. The Russians are the favorite as they have assembled possibly the best offensive team Olympic hockey has ever seen. I am incredibly excited to watch Malkin and Ovechkin play together. But the Czech Republic will field a solid team with players like Martin Havlat and Tomas Plekanec. Slovakia was dealt a blow today when they found out that Marian Gaborik will miss their first two games, but they still have a dangerous roster. Latvia is filled with a bunch of no-name players (though the Flyers' Oskars Bartulis is on the team!), and they get a stiff test against Russia tonight. But if they play well, it will give them a lot of confidence in their games against Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

Group C:
The Swedes are the defending gold medalists and the favorites to win their group. Finland is the defending silver medalists and should finish second to the Swedes in Group C. Germany will provide a tough test in their games, but I don't expect to see them upset Sweden or Finland. Belarus will face an uphill climb in these Olympics as two of their four NHL players are out with injury.

Projected Finish

Group A:
Team (W-L-OTL, Pts)
Canada (3-0-0, 9)
USA (2-1-0, 6)
Switzerland (1-2-0, 3)
Norway (0-3-0, 0)

Group B:
Team (W-L-OTL, Pts)
Russia (3-0-0, 9)
Slovakia (2-1-0, 5)
Czech Republic (1-1-1, 4)
Latvia (0-3-0, 0)

Group C:
Team (W-L-OTL, Pts)
Sweden (3-0-0, 8)
Finland (2-0-1, 7)
Germany (1-2-0, 3)
Belarus (0-3-0, 0)

Medal Round

Seeds (Top 4 get a 1st Round Bye):
1. Russia
2. Canada
3. Sweden
4. Finland
5. USA
6. Slovakia
7. Czech Republic
8. Germany
9. Switzerland
10. Belarus
11. Norway
12. Latvia

First Round (Projected winners in Bold):
5 USA v. 12 Latvia
6 Slovakia v. 11 Norway
7 Czech Republic v. 10 Belarus
8 Germany v. 9 Switzerland

Quarterfinals (Projected winners in Bold):
1 Russia v. 8 Germany
2 Canada v. 7 Czech Republic
3 Sweden v. 6 Slovakia
4 Finland v. 5 USA

Semifinals (Projected winners in Bold):
1 Russia v. 5 USA
2 Canada v. 3 Sweden

Bronze Medal Game (Projected winner in Bold):
3 Sweden v. 5 USA

Gold Medal Game (Projected winner in Bold):
1 Russia v. 2 Canada

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