Russian Machine Not Want Silver: Predictions For Olympic Hockey

Colossus sez, "Organic steel is not silver, tovarisch!"

Colossus sez, "Organic steel is not silver, tovarisch!"

We’ve decided there’s not enough saturation of opinion on the Internet.  Nay– the tubes are too filled with cold, hard fact; intelligent analysis; and sober discussion.  To fix this dire problem, the staff at Russian Machine Never Breaks gathered in its subterranean bunker (27 floors beneath The Greene Turtle in Frederick, Maryland) and put together their predictions for the 2010 Olympic Hockey tournament.  And if you were expecting us to be in the tank for Mother Russia… well, take a look for yourself.

Peter’s Picks

Gold: USA

America will win the gold largely on the strength of Ryan Miller’s head of hair. The sheer volume of the thing will traumatize any attackers. Brooks Orpik (same birthday as me!) and the Johnson’s (Erik and Jack) will stump the Russian onslaught. Kane and Langenbrunner are the bright spots on a lean offense, but it’ll be enough to get ahead. I might be high on jingoistic fumes, but I think this team could be a bona fide winner. Stats and rational thought be damned.

Silver: Russia

This is seriously the scariest damn roster I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to see Federov and Kozlov reunited with Ovechkin. Can’t wait to see Malkin and Semin embracing each other after a perfectly executed timing play. Zubov, Volchenkov, and Gonchar on D? Forget about it. The Russians are a lock for the silver medal, but unfortunately their raw talent cannot overcome the stars’n’stripes-colored blinders I’m wearing for these predictions.

Bronze: Sweden

I watched Sweden take the gold at Turin, and I thought, “for the dark horse, they’re awfully blond.” They’ve got a pair of Sedins, a Forsberg, a Lidstrom, and that damned Lundqvist. Forsberg aside, those are all world-class players. But I have to keep Sweden out of the most precious of medals, mostly because they made the error of putting Nicklas Backstom with the dregs on the 4th line. Our beloved center may be seeing less than 10 minutes of ice time a game down there. At least he’ll be rested for March!


Ian’s Picks

Gold: Russia

When you’ve got proven goal scorers like Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Ilya Kovalchuk & Evgeni Malkin on the team, that’s one thing. But when your team’s best player is spewing intense quotes like this: “If we’ll play the way we want, the way we can, the way we must, no one will be able to beat us,” it’s hard to imagine a let down. After winning the World Championships in 2008, Alex Ovechkin will win Gold for Team Russia and make Mama Ovechkin proud. And yes, pose in weird photos with Alex Semin again. Next, trophy to add to his mantle, the Stanley Cup in June.

Silver: Sweden

Nicklas Backstrom might have been completely dissed by Mike Millbury, but I’m not gonna be that stupid. Forgot Foppa and his wonky foot issues. Sweeden’s great team defense led by Nick Lindstrom will do just enough to get into the Championship game – and then get their lunch completely eaten by a more dominant Russian Team. King Lundqvist will have to settle for a Silver Crown.

Bronze: Canada

Overcome by the intense pressure of having to win gold in their homecountry, Canada’s defense folds sans Mike Green and they settle for Bronze. The Gretzky Face during the Cauldron Fail will be replaced by the Crosby Face after he watches Ovechkin get the gold medal placed over his head on the podium. I can’t wait for the epic Bob Costas interview, where Crosby cries into his arms.


Fedor’s Picks

First of all, I will not be rooting for Russian team– despite my nationality. I hate to see the Russian idiots patriots happy. When they’re winning and they’re happy, they think that Russian hockey is okay, but it’s NOT okay. I will root, however, for Czech Republic because Fleischmann and Jagr are some of my favorites.

Gold: Sweden

Why? First, look at the numbers.

Points Per Game ranking this season Sweden: 2nd place (D.Sedin), 3rd (H.Sedin), 7th (N.Backstrom). Canada: 4th (S.Crosby), 8th (J.Thornton), 9th (P.Marleau). Russia: 1 (A. Ovechkin), 5 (A.Semin), 8 (I.Kovalchuk).

Swedes have pretty solid offensive force, don’t they? They won’t lose just because Russia and Canada are in it. Second, look at their goalies. Every top team has a big fight for the starting position, but Sweden won’t. Lundqvist already feels secure in his spot.

Third, psychological. I don’t know a hockey fans who doesn’t want to see a classic Russia vs. Canada final. But there may be a “third force” rule. Russia and especially the home team Canada are under huge pressure, but Sweden has far less. The Swedes can play merely good, low-stress hockey to reach the semifinals, and then give a two huge performances.

Fourth, stats. Just stats.

Top European teams: Russia: 9 non-NHLers Sweden: 4 Czech: 7 Slovakia: 9 Finland: 5

Silver: Canada

Yeah, Canada. They just a little bit better than other teams. They’re a huge, physical team with a huge, physical defense (even without Green). In contrast, the Russian defense has always been a weakness. Russian KHL defensemen are not used to playing 60 mins at a high tempo. KHL defensemen are weaker physically. Canadian defense will be the best defense at the Olympics, but they may have some troubles due to their goalie situation: Brodeur, Luongo, Fleury. This fight may tell on his final result.

Bronze: USA

America will perform much like Sweden, but they’ll be killed by Swedish discipline in semifinals. If these two teams would meet in a 7-game series, USA will probably win. But in a single game, the discipline of the Swedes will produce fewer mistakes. Russia will lose their concentration, get too many penalties, and will get smashed by the US in the Bronze medal game.


Daniel’s Picks

Gold: Canada

Three quality goalies in Luongo, Brodeur, and Fluery; some the best defensemen (especially when it comes to goal prevention) in the NHL led by Duncan Keith; and a very, very deep set of forwards – which, while not quite as dominant on the high end as some other teams, is still good even getting down to their 10th and 11th guys. I think the all-around quality depth at all positions will carry them through to the Gold.

Silver: Russia

It’s all about the offense, with Ovechkin, Semin, Datsyuk, Malkin, and Kovalchuk being some of the best forwards in the NHL. There is a lot of fire-power on the team – easily the most in the tournament – but the goal prevention is a slight concern (since it’s not exceptional).

Bronze: Sweden

A quality defensive crew led by Nicklas Lidstrom, and a very strong set of forwards with the Sedin brothers and Nicklas Backstrom at the top and some great depth in Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Loui Eriksson, and Peter Forsberg. They should be able to put some points on the board.


Brandon’s Picks

Gold: Canada

The Canadians have to win this. Have to. It would be humiliating for Canada to lose as the host country. So much on the line, and I can’t wait to see what Sidney Crosby can do surrounded by fellow All-Stars.

Silver: Russia

Alexander Ovechkin + Evgeni Malkin + Ilya Kovalchuk = one of the scariest lines I’ve ever seen. I’m guessing they’ll spend some quality time together on power plays. If anybody will threaten the Canadians, it’s the Russians.

Bronze: Finland

The popular choices for bronze seem to be either Sweden or the United States. I’m going to hedge my bets that goalie Miikka Kiprusoff becomes one of this tournament’s stars.


Wow.  I am stunned.  Five correspondents and we have exactly ONE prediction for Russia to win the gold.  And that was from Ian.  We don’t even let Ian order his own food at restaurants, so please take his prediction with a grain of salt. Why don’t we ask someone whose opinion we actually value?  How about Nate Ewell, Director of Media Relations for the Capitals, who was kind of enough to tweet his picks:

1) Sweden, 2) Russia, 3) US … but I don’t really have much of a clue

This could be awkward.  Readers, how many rides in Backstrom’s Maserati would it take to buy YOUR vote?

Alexander Semin and his sad, sad bandwagon

Alexander Semin and his sad, sad bandwagon

  • Thom L.

    Interesting picks. Do you really have like 6 contributors for this blog? Wow, I thought like 2 or 3.

    @Peter
    As much as I’d love to see USA win it all, they probably have 60:1 chances of doing so. Those odds could only be increased if Ryan Miller plays the games of his lifetime, which will be a tough feat in the medal rounds vs Russia, Canada, or Sweden, etc.

    @Ian
    You spelled Nick Lidstrom’s last name wrong (Lindstrom), but out of all of the contributor’s picks, I think yours are the most likely.

    Also, if would’ve been nice if you expanded your predcition beyond just the medal-winners. Like this: http://is.gd/8tiSq

    However, your commentary regarding each pick is great to read.

    Keep up the good work!

  • Peter

    Thanks, Thom. I try not to let knowledge get in the way of my writing though. Still, in the interest of completion, here are my complete picks for the 2010 Olympic Men’s Hockey (in alphabetical order):

    1st: Belarus
    2nd: Canada
    3rd: Czech Republic
    4th: Finland
    5th: Germany
    6th: Latvia
    7th: Norway
    8th: Russia
    9th: Slovakia
    10th: Sweden
    11th: Switzerald
    12th: USA

    You’re right. USA will never win first on that list.

  • Mark

    1. Russia
    2. Canada
    3. US beats the Fins in the bronze medal gm.

    Upset of the Olympics: The Swiss beat the Canadians in the prelims again.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Thanks for the comment Tom. I’m horrible at spelling names, so thanks for catching my Lidstrom error.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Mark, I can’t agree more with any predictions that include an embarrassing upset of Team Canada.

  • Darla

    Because it means so much to him, I hope Ovi’s team takes the gold.

  • alex

    1. russia
    2. canada
    3. slovakia

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com whodo

    Russia
    Sweden
    USA

    Any combo of these would be great….I don’t want Canada in the top 5!

  • http://www.twitter.com/hello_courtney Courtney

    My heart says:

    1) Russia
    2) Sweden
    3) USA

    My head says:

    1) Canada
    2) Russia
    3) Sweden

    I just don’t want Canada to win the gold. And I hope Russia and Sweden don’t meet, although that’s probably inevitable. I also hope Alex doesn’t “kill” Nicky if they do meet. Eeek! It’s going to be a nerve-racking 2 weeks. Can’t wait!!! :-)

  • ChiCaps

    I’m going way out on a limb….

    Gold – Slovakia
    Silver – Norway
    Bronze – Switzerland

  • Manda

    Gold-Russia
    Silver-Canada
    Bronze-Czech Republic

  • Lorna

    1.Russia
    2.Canada
    3.Sweden

  • http://twitter.com/kristenamazing Kristen

    - Russia will get the gold. I don’t think that can be helped. The line up is too good.
    – USA will get all butt hurt, but come on, silver is still a precious metal.
    – and Im at a toss up between Sweden & the Czech Republic. Sweden made a BIG mistake putting Backstrom on the 4th line up and the CR wants to place bad enough; it’s any which way for these two teams.

    Oh, and Poland will be off in a corner crying for getting 4th place.

  • Joe Blow

    I’ll predict:

    G: Sweden
    S: Russia
    B: Czechs
    4th Canada
    5th Slovaks
    6th Finns
    7th Switzerland
    8th Belarus
    9th Germany
    10th USA
    11th Latvia
    12h Norway

  • Jordan

    G- Canada
    S- Russia
    B- Slovakia!

  • Ally

    Gold: Canada
    Silver: Russia
    Bronze: Sweden
    Don’t want to see US win anything.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Ally,

    Harsh, dude.

    xoxo,
    RMNB

  • Mark

    Not to pat myself on the back but the Swiss so deserved this win vs. the Mounties. The great thing about international competition is truly getting engrossed in the game to the point where you want the victory not for a single team and their fans….but for an entire country, this win would have meant everything to Switzerland.

    The “watchmakers” played their hearts out, Hiller was AMAZING but….once the game went to a shootout, they had no chance. I love the drama of shootout….but in a David vs Goliath scenario, the chips are so heavily stacked on Goliath’s side, especially when Canada could have run Crosby out there until they won.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Russian Machine Never Breaks

    Mark,

    Amen. Hiller had one of the best games of his career. If he played like that consistently, Anaheim would be a far better team.

    The Swiss almost deflated the home team tonight, and it made for some great hockey.