Men’s Olympic Hockey Preview

With the conclusion of yesterday’s games, the NHL players will begin to arrive in Vancouver for the start of the 2010 Winter Olympic Men’s Hockey Tournament. The NHL players are some of the world’s best athletes and since 1998, every Olympic hockey tournament with NHL players has been a memorable.

This year’s talent pool will create some exciting matchups and here are my predictions below:

Gold Medal Game- Canada vs. Sweden

Winner- Canada

Many believe the Canadians are under enormous pressure to win but with the games in Vancouver, the Canadian crowds will be loud and proud. The crowds will play into the excitement around the Canadian players and Canada’s roster is quick, agile and has a great mix of veteran and younger players. Sidney Crosby will be playing in his first Olympics and will add speed and great vision to any line he is put on. With the help of Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla, Jonathan Toews, Chris Pronger, and Dany Heatley, the Canadian team has a great mix of young and veteran players to provide them the depth they need. They also have solid goaltending in Martin Brodeur and Marc-Andre Fleury and both of those goaltenders can step up to the highest level when needed.

The Swedes are loaded with talent as Henrik Zetterberg, the Sedin twins, Tomas Holmstren and Peter Forsberg, who is playing professionally in Sweden, will be determined and ready for intense competition. The team has talent but not as much depth as the Canadian team. Henrik Lundqvist is a solid goaltender but the Swedes will need a top notch performance out of him in this Olympics to make it back to the gold medal game. If Lundqvist stays healthy, the Swedes will get back to the gold medal game for a rematch of the 1994 gold medal game in Lillehammer.

Bronze Medal Game- Russia vs. Finland

Winner: Finland
The Finnish team has surprisingly done well in every Olympics and has a solid group of players to work with. Teemu Selanne will supply great leadership and experience for this team and will have help from Saku and Mikko Koivu. The Fins also have three solid goaltenders in Antero Niittymakki, Miikka Kipprusoff, and Niklas Backstrom are all goaltenders who can get the job done when needed. The Finnish team is young and will surprise some people going into this Olympic Games.

The Russian team is talented but animosity between its players and Alex Ovechkin will keep them out of the gold medal game. The team will no doubt be talented with Evgeni Malkin, Alexander Semin, and Ilya Kovalchuk will provide a solid core for the Russian lines and will have great defensemen in Sergei Gonchar and Fedor Tyutin. Evgeni Nabokov and Ilya Bryzgalov are solid goaltenders for this Russian team but there seems to be animosity between the Russian players and that will keep them from getting a gold medal.

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~ by jeffrsabo on February 15, 2010.

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