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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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