Monday, February 13, 2006

Men's Olympic Hockey Prediction

Now that the NHL is in its Olympic break, it is time to attempt to predict the order of finish in the Olympic hockey tournament.

Gold-Canada This team is the most talented team in the tournament. Any other team has players on it who would not have made the Canadian roster. As always there exist questions. How big will the distraction of the gambling scandal that involves exective team director Wayne Gretzky (or at least those very close to him). How will the depleted defence respond with Scott Niedermayer and Ed Jovanovski out and Rob Blake and Chris Pronger playing hurt? Nevertheless, this is an extremely deep team. Even the forwards who dont expect to see first line time like Martin St Louis and Ryan Smyth can be dangerous offensively.

Silver-Czech Republic In 1998, Dominik Hasek was the top goalie in the NHL. Jaromir Jagr was the top offensive player in the league. They led the Czechs to the gold medal in Nagano. Its 8 years later and Jagr is still the top offensive player and Hasek is still the top goalie. They certainly could win, but they don't have the same level of depth Canada boasts.

Bronze-USA This team is a rebuilding year for the Americans. They no longer have the talent levels that won them the 2002 silver medal or the 1996 World Cup, but they still have a good team. Look for people like Mike Modano, Brian Gionta and Keith Tkachuk to be some of their top scorers.

4th-Sweden Initially, I picked this team for a medal. However, Markus Naslund withdrew from the Olympics and Peter Forsberg remains a question mark. That is a huge blow to their offence. Henrik Lundqvist will deliver very good goaltending. Nicklas Lidstrom will be one of the top (if not the top) defender in the tournament. They still have some good scoring in Daniel Alfredsson and the Sedin brothers.

5th-Russia Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin will give them a formidable one two punch offensively. Their weakness will likely be defence where slumping Sergei Gonchar and Andrei Markov will be some of the leaders. Evgeni Nabokov will be the goalie, but he is not having a dominant season in the NHL.

6th-Finland This team took a serious hit when goaltenders Miikka Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen withdrew. They are left with Antero Niittymaki as their starter. Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne should lead their offence

7th-Slovakia Marian Hossa and Pavol Demitra should lead their offence. They defence has gigantic Zdeno Chara. Their goaltending will had to rely upon Peter Budaj. This team has the same frontline talent as many of the other teams ranked slightly ahead of them, but is the first to run into depth problems where some of their 3rd and 4th liners may be exploited by the more talented NHL stars.

8th-Switzerland This team will rely on big goaltending from David Aebischer and Martin Gerber because they won't get much offence from the likes of Mark Streit, Paul DiPietro and Marcel Jenni.

9th-Kazakhstan Vitaliy Kolsenik has done very well in international play in the past. He will provide the goaltending. There will be little scoring from the likes of Nik Antropov and Dmitriy Upper.

10th-Germany Another team with a solid goalie in Olaf Kolzig. Marco Sturm and Jochen Hecht will not be there to help their offence. This leaves Marcel Goc and Jan Benda to try to score. They do offer a few NHL defencemen in Dennis Seidenberg, Christoph Schubert and Christian Ehrhoff.

11th-Latvia Arturs Irbe returns as their goalie. How much does he have left at age 39? Other dependable players are Karlis Skrastins, Herberts Vasiljevs and Grigorijs Pantelejevs.

12th-Italy The host team is just happy to be here, with their automatic host bid. Their few playerse that I have heard of were former AHLers (who had short shots at the NHL) like goaltender Jason Muzzatti and forwards Anthony Tuzzolini and Anthony Iob. They hope to not lose as badly as the women have, who have lost their two games so far by a combined 27-0 score.

Any other team has players on it who would not have made the Canadian roster.

Another interesting measure is the list of players that didn't make Team Canada.

Marc Savard (6th in NHL scoring), Tanguay (9th) Crosby (12th), Marleau (13th) and Kariya (24th) would make the roster of any other nation. Bryan McCabe leads all defensemen in scoring, and only made the team because of injuries. The '04 MVP, Martin St. Louis, only barely made the team.
Any thoughts on the Czechs now that Hasek appears to be out with injury? Can they play to the same level with Vokoun in net?
Vokoun is a very good goalie. He may not be Hasek, but he can get the job done. The Czech will still be one of the best teams in the tournament.
I think your predictions after Canada and the Czechs are way off. The US will finish no where near any medals, and it will be one Russia, Sweden or Slovakia that will get the bronze. The U.S. are the seventh best team in the tournament since they have weak goaltending (they are even weaker than Switzerland). They would only have a chance at a medal if they had Ryan Miller as their starter in goal.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?