• Sochi Olympic Hockey Predictions 2014

    IlyaKovalchuk2010WinterOlympics

    The Olympics are soon upon us, and many bookies will soon offer you the chance to bet on the games and medalists. As the rosters are being announced, we have made a few of our own predictions.

    Things to consider

    International Ice

    The big ice makes a huge difference, more so than people realize. It is a huge adjustment for the goalies, and some adjust better than others. This was proven during the lockout when many goalies played in the KHL with varying success. The international ice also means that speed becomes a bigger factor for skaters, while size matters less. Slow but physical defenders, who are regarded as good players in the NHL, will be exposed, while puck-moving defenders with great skating ability will excel.

    Experience also matters – European players will have an advantage, since they have more experience playing on big ice.

    Oh, and did you know that the last time the Canadians won the Olympic Gold Medal on international ice was in Oslo, 1952. Their last 2 Olympic Golds came on North American ice.

    Goaltending

    The Olympics are more of a sprint than a marathon. That means that goaltending becomes even more important. A goalie can win or lose a game. Goalies are streaky, just like any other player, so if you’re going to bet, pay attention to the goalies performances just before the Olympics to see whose slumping and whose doing well.

    Injuries

    As always, injuries are key. If team USA loses Ryan Miller, they may be in trouble.

     

    Tip: Bet on early round upsets

    Every year, during the early rounds, the better team will underestimate their opponent and lose. It literally happens every year in the world championships, and the Olympics are no different. Switzerland, Slovakia and Austria are all teams that are capable of pulling of an upset or two. The odds look really delicious for games like Switzerland-Sweden. Take advantage of this!

     

    Our picks for the medal rounds

    Gold: Russia

    the_olympicsRussia is due for Gold, and this year they have many factors going in their favor. They are on home ice in Sochi, which will give the players extra motivation (just look at Ovechkin this year). But most importantly, the Russians are used to the international ice, and while their D may not look super impressive on paper, they are all well fit to play on the big ice, which will even out the playing field a bit. Varlamov was also really good in the KHL during the lockout.

    Then of course, Team Russia arguably has the most stacked top-6 in the tournament with Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk, Kovalchuk, Radulov and Semin. They have excellent chemistry and the right amount of natural centers and wingers, unlike for example Canada. After that, they have good players that can score and PK to round out the bottom-6.

    It is also a good bet to bet on Russia, because North American-focused sportsbooks give you good odds, simply because most people will favor Canada or USA.

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    Silver: USA

    They came close last time around, and we predict the same thing is going to repeat in Sochi. Team USA has a great roster, and despite critisism, their team is put together pretty well. They have great stars and role players and are a speedy team with the right team spirit. Obviously, Bobby Ryan should have been on the team, but it is not the end of the world.

    In 2010, Ryan Miller really stole the show, and luckily for the Americans, he’s playing his best hockey since 2010. In addition to that, they players on the team have only improved since 2010, most notably Patrick Kane, who might win the scoring title of the tournament.

     

    Bronze: Sweden

    Team Sweden is going to beat Canada for the Bronze medal. Sweden has a very stacked roster, and once again, they are going to benefit from the international ice. The Sedins especially. And while Karlsson isn’t having his best season, his skills will be highlighted on the big ice. Team Sweden also has the luxury of just using him as an offensive specialist, because they have guys like Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Kronwall to carry the defensive load.

    Also, the Canadians seem to have a tendency to not care much about the bronze medal. For them, it seems to be either all or nothing, and their last bronze medal is from 1968.

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