Sports

Up For Debate: Men’s Hockey Medal Predictions at Sochi

Carpenter

Czarnik

Gold

 USA

Canada

Silver

 Canada

Russia

Bronze

 Russia

USA

Czarnik

Olympic Hockey is a time where hockey players from different backgrounds unite and compete for the pride of their nation. This year, the Winter Olympics are being held in Sochi, Russia, and one of the many anticipated events every year is Men’s Ice Hockey. Many of the teams competing are packed with star-studded rosters. How could one simply predict the winners of Bronze, Silver, and the highly desired Gold Medal? It’s not easy, but let’s give it a try.

Third place (Bronze Medal) goes to our Team USA. This year, Team USA has a young and small roster (12 players 6’0 or shorter) packed with talent. Guys like Joe Pavelski, newly appointed Captain Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, T.J. Oshie and Paul Stastny will certainly help in the scoring regard. USA’s defense is one to be reckoned with. Their defense is full of men who have the ability to log big time minutes and keep the puck out of their own zone. Nobody would prefer that more than Team USA’s star goalie, Ryan Miller. Miller has been tasked with backstopping arguably the worst team in the NHL this season, the Buffalo Sabres. Although low in the win column, his .925 save percentage and 2.68 goals against average (GAA) speak for themselves. Miller was excellent in the 2010 Olympics, his last stint with Team USA, where he went 5-0-1 with a ridiculous 1.35 GAA, .946 save percentage, and two shutouts. The Americans will hope to see his continued success in Sochi.

Second place (Silver Medal) is awarded to Team Russia. Hosting the 2014 Games, the Russian National Team will look to feed off of the home-ice advantage as it seeks redemption on the path to the Gold Medal. Perhaps one of the key factors for Team Russia is that they have experience on International Ice. North American Ice is smaller than Russia’s International Ice, and will require more skating and endurance from the players. Aside from the demographics, Team Russia also has a skillful roster. With their strong offense, Russia’s goaltending will serve as their backbone this year. With both Semyon Varlamov (10-1-1 in January) and Sergei Bobrovsky (19-13-2 with a 2.54 goals against average this season) playing better-than-stellar hockey since the start of the year, they could step into the crease and carry Russia through the tournament.

First place (Gold Medal) goes to Team Canada. Canada has a 25-man roster full of speed, experience, and size (only two players are shorter than 6’0). Some of the best players in the world were selected to compete on this team, such as players like Sidney Crosby and John Tavares. Canada is known for “birthing” some of the finest players around, and this year, the team is a complete powerhouse. In the 2010 Winter Olympics, Team Canada brought home the gold by defeating Team USA with an Overtime goal by Sidney Crosby. They will hope for a similar result this time around.

Sources: NHL

Carpenter

After waiting a long four years, avid hockey fans around the globe will once again experience the treat that is Olympic Hockey. Along with that will come a lot of early morning game watching, trial and error searches of good streaming websites and of course, the contrast of pleasure and pain of your home country’s winning or losing efforts. As a long time hockey fan, I’ll offer up my predictions for who will take medals and bring glory to their countries in Sochi.
Bronze: Russia
Two weeks ago, I would have picked against the home squad in favor of Team Sweden, but due to the struggles/injuries of the Sedin twins and withdrawal of Johan Franzen from the tournament due to injury, the Swedes are looking awfully thin at forward, which is highly unfavorable in a tournament where depth is a key to winning. With Russia’s star studded attack featuring the likes of Ovechkyn, Malkin and Datsuyk, it’s hard for one to keep Russia off the medal tally. However, having the Olympics at home will create a lot of pressure that will be hard for the Russians to perform under. On top of that, their inability to medal in the last Olympics will only force Russia further under the microscope. In the end, this pressure will prevent them from playing freely, thus keeping them out of the Gold Medal Game.
Silver: Canada
Looking at the Canadians on paper, they are everything you want in a hockey team. They’re big, fast and very skilled with the puck. Top to bottom, their team encompasses perennial NHL All Stars including Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, Patrick Marleau and of course, Sidney Crosby. In addition to this, their roster boasts the hottest rising stars since the last Olympics including Matt Duchene and John Tavares. Coming off a Gold Medal at the Vancouver Olympics, Canada is looking to continue their international dominance. Yet, we’ve seen all too often in sports recently that All Star teams do not necessarily win the top prize. Though Canada’s chemistry gelled in 2010, it is uncertain if they’ll play a team game or if it’ll be every man’s one man show out on the ice. Also, Goalie Roberto Luongo has proven to have rough patches in net over the past few seasons and Carey Price’s inexperience at the Olympic level could leave a weak spot at Canada’s backend.
Gold: USA
That’s right—this is the year the homers take it. The United States’ team is highlighted by returning fan favorites such as Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane and Captain Zach Parise. Though the United States isn’t the most skilled team in the tournament, they play a very good team game which was evident in their success at the Vancouver games. They are young and hungry, two assets that will help them stay fresh and motivated throughout the tournament. The team’s biggest asset however is the play of goalie Ryan Miller, who posted insane numbers in Vancouver and has not had a drop off in play since those games four years ago. With a stud binding the net and a true team playing in front of him, the US looks to win Gold, something they haven’t done since 1980.
Sources: TSN Sports, NHL

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