With the Olympics starting on Thursday and NHL Olympic break starting Friday, the hockey world will switch its focus from the NHL to the Sochi Games. A good portion of the NHL stars will be shedding their NHL sweaters and donning their countries sweaters. The sports books in Vegas have released their odds on the gold medal winner.
The odd makers state that Canada is your favorite at 2-1 odds. Second is the Russian squad at 5-2, third is Sweden 9-2, United States 6-1 and fifth is tied with Finland/Czech Republic at 10-1. Canada is the favorite and rightfully so. They have a SUPERSTAR NHL team headlined by Sidney Crosby, John Tavares, and Jonathan Toews.
However history is not on the side of Team Canada. First off no country has repeated as Olympic champion since the NHL started allow players to play in 1998. The great Team Canada has not repeated as Olympic Champions since 1948, 1952 and no team has not repeated as Olympic champion since the USSR in 1984 and 1988. If people think just winning a medal in the consecutive Olympics is easy, think again. Since 1998, Only Russia and Finland have medals in consecutive Olympics. Both Russia and Finland also regressed in their medal placement. Russia won the Silver in 1998 and the Bronze 2002. Finland won the silver in 2006 and the Bronze in 2010.
Team Canada has superstars at every position expect one of the most important, goalie. Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, and Mike Smith do not wow me as a hockey fan. Luongo did win a gold medal in 2010, but only got a chance after Martin Brodeur struggled. Luongo does not handle pressure very well and can be a head case at times. Carey Price has struggled as of late despite the strong stats. He could be pressing too much. The Canadian plan is to play both Luongo and Price in their first two games and then decide on a starter.
With all of that being said, I’m not going to pick Canada for the gold medal. I am going to pick Sweden to win the gold medal. That’s right I am going with SWEDEN. Sweden has a good group of NHL players in Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Alex Steen, Henrik Zetterberg, Erik Karlsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Kronwall, and Blackhawks Johnny Oduya, Marcus Kruger, and Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Sweden’s X-factor and the reason I’m picking them to win is their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist knows how to rise to the occasion of the Olympics. In 2006, Sweden won the Olympic gold due in large part to King Henrik. In the 2006 tournament, Lundqvist was 5-1 with a 2.33 goals against average. People could even argue that Lundqvist tournament in 2010 was better. He went 2-1 with a 1.34 goals against average, however Sweden did not medal. This NHL season has been a bumpy ride for Lundqvist, but he seems to rounding into form at exactly the right time. In his last 13 games, he has allowed just 24 goals and has a 9-3-1 record for the Rangers.
If Team Sweden’s defense is on their game and so is Lundqvist they can be unbeatable. The odds favor Canada and I’m picking Sweden.
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