Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach
The NHL shuts down on Saturday night and the Olympic tournament starts on Wednesday, so get ready for ten days of what an all-star game should look like: the world’s best players (sans Jack Johnson) playing games that they actually care about. If you’re a hockey fanatic, Olympic hockey might be even better that the quarterfinal round of the playoffs– albeit with less productivity at work (most of the games are at 7 am or noon).
Since the “R” in RMNB stands for Russian and we’ve got two Ruskies on the staff, you might think we’d be in the tank for the home team. You’d be wrong (mostly). Below, the entire RMNB team shares its picks for the Olympic mens hockey tournament. Tell us where we’re wrong (e.g. Canada) and share your own picks in the comments.
Peter Hassett, Editor, Recaps, Bulldogs
Gold: Sweden. I love the Swedish roster. They’re strong as hell down the middle and they’ve got a fantastic defense, but the biggest factor will be Henrik Lundqvist using those oversized, IIHF-approved, Stay Puft Marshmallow Man pads that he isn’t allowed to use in the NHL. Call it an upset, but the Swedes look to me like the team to beat.
Silver: Canada. Originally, my reasoning for Canada losing gold was based on leaving last year’s Art Ross winner, Martin St Louis, at home. With Stamkos on the shelf, MSL got the late nod, but I’m sticking with the pick. Canada may be the best team in the world (and one of the best lineups of all-time), but there is one thing that can stop them: a handsome Swedish guy with cartoonishly large goalie pads.
Bronze: USA. The only red, white, and blue uniform I want Ryan Miller in is America’s. What he did in Vancouver still warms the cold cockles of my heart. I had precious metal hopes for Team USA, but I’m really not enamored with the team’s selection. I’m hoping some big effort from John Carlson will help put them over Russia and its sucker-soft defense in the bronze medal game, but without Bobby Ryan’s entensaty I can’t see these guys making the finals.
Ian Oland, Editor, GIFs, Ferrets
Gold: Russia. Am I really the only dude on Russian Machine Never Breaks to pick Russia? What is wrong with you people?! (Don’t answer that.) You’ve heard why Russia has no chance: the pressure trying to win in front of their hometown fans will be overwhelming. There will be actual KHL players actually playing in their line-up. Then there are others who believe Ovechkin lacks that certain je ne sais quoi to win titles.
The Olympic logo was missing a ring. I guess they were trying to make Alexander Ovechkin feel at home.
— Down Goes Brown (@DownGoesBrown) February 7, 2014
I think that’s all hogwash. The crowds should give Russia momentum. The KHL players are grinders and checking forwards (plus Ilya Kovalchuk and Alex Radulov) who know how to play the game right. Then there’s Ovechkin. We have watched him turn into an elite scorer who can score dirty goals, no-angle goals, one-timer goals, upside-down goals, fast goals, many goals. I believe he is the guy to win Olympic gold. I still believe he will win a Stanley Cup. The first of those accomplishments will happen this year.
(Plus, if things go wrong, maybe Putin will just steal the gold. Or maybe he’ll deploy stray dogs on the the ice to backcheck. Or maybe Russia’s opponents will mysteriously get food poisoning. One way or another, this is the year.)
Silver: Sweden. It’s hard to pick against a team that might field two of the best players in the tournament: Nicklas Backstrom and Henrik Lundqvist. I don’t know why we still fall for this; the Swedes winning tournaments is never surprising. But not this year. I’m picking them for second place. I can’t wait for the Nicky vs. Ovi gold medal game. Remember, Ovi: go high glove on Hank.
Bronze: USA. In the Bronze Medal Game, we’ll have the battle of North America: Canada vs. USA. And if things go right, maybe it’ll turn into an actual war.
John Carlson will score two goals and say cool and bro a lot during his weird, on-ice, post-game chat with Pierre McGuire, which we’ll all complain on Twitter about.
Chris Gordon, Associate Editor/Politico, Interviews, Features
Gold: Canada. It’s hockey, so Canada. They have by far the best team on paper. It looks like they’ll get Stevie Stamkos back too. While they might get upset, I see no reason why Canada shouldn’t be the favorites.
Silver: USA. All hail Ryan Miller once again. For the second Olympics in a row, I think the US will go on a run the gold metal game, only to get our dreams crushed from the syrup suckers up north. Maybe if they didn’t have Brian Burke picking the team.
Bronze: Sweden. The land of IKEA and Volvos could have easily been my pick for any of the other medals. They’re the only team other than the US and Canada fully stocked with NHL talent. Strong on both sides of the puck with great goaltending. Plus Sweden’s a cool place.
Fedor Fedin, Prospects Writer, Russia, Bieber
Gold: USA. The Americans have no glaring weaknesses, which puts them solidly in the top-4, and after that it’s a toss-up. I think American blue-collar players will deliver in the clutch.
Silver: Canada. They should win gold. It just makes too much sense if they do. But the World Juniors every year show that the best roster doesn’t mean victory (or even a medal, as in the last two years) and in the gold medal game, Americans will just want it more.
Bronze: Russia. Probably the only country at the tournament who will really care that much about the bronze medal game, and they should win it quite easily, no matter who they face. Just because this game will make or break four year-cycle.
Igor Kleyner, Actual Rocket Scientist, Translations
Gold: USA. Maybe that’s not the smartest money pick, and on paper there are better teams out there, but to me picking Canada is simply as classy as killing stray dogs. Not. Gonna. Happen. Besides, the perfect script for this season would surely include Miller single-handedly carrying Team Red-White-And-Blue to the top of the podium in Sochi, raising his trade value to ridiculous Elbrusian heights, then GMGM inevitably jumping at the chance just before the trade deadline, giving away whatever is left of the farm and then some, only for the Caps to miss the playoffs by a hair on the dreaded ROW tiebreaker.
Silver: Russia. But most importantly for them, the Russians beat Canada in the semis on Ovi’s OT goal (his 13th of the tournament, with the other 12 scored in the opening game against Slovenia). Unfortunately for hosts,during the celebrations following the glorious triumph against the only country they even consider worth playing, the Russians severely undermine their preparations for the finals by accidentally consuming small amount of Sochi tap water.
Bronze: Finland. Because they are the only ones who even care about it, while Canadians (sans Crosby) don’t even realize there is such thing as bronze medal game and go on a Saturday night bar rampage; MSL is carded and not allowed in any bars because according to the bouncer “The only person who is that old and that short is the guy who pretended to be our President for awhile”. Sid is the only Canadian who shows up for the game, registers 1 goal and 3 assists (to Pierre), while the Finns are distracted by @Strombone1 hilarious tweets. Toward the end of the third period Bobby Lu becomes too drunk to operate his phone, and the Finns squeak by. Frustrated Crosby punches Perre in Volabiks.
Rachel Cohen, Illustrator, Feels
Gold: USA. They never forgave and never forgot losing to Canada in Vancouver, and will use that as a rallying point. Combined with some crazy good goaltending from Miller & Quick, the US will this year stand on top!
Silver: Russia. Yeah, they may have half their team coming from the KHL, but the Russian team will have the home-field advantage, and like Canada in 2010, will use that to their advantage. While he alone cannot carry the team himself, Ovi’s gonna be a driving force on the Russian team. The Russian Machine is hungry.
Bronze: Sweden. I think the Swedes are the big underdog in this tourney. Canada is the huge favourite, but I have them losing the bronze to Sweden due to guys like Lundqvist, Backstrom, and the Sedins stepping up big time.
Craig and Doug, PuckBuddys
Gold: Canada. Repeat. Good for Wee Marty St. Louis. Not only were they favourites going in, they get the extra karma points for the late add of that little S.O.B. Too much talent, they’ll womp and stomp the competition. Putin offers Grapes to head the Ministry of Sport, but later learns about his trashing of Russian players. He’s never heard from again.
Silver: Sweden. Even with the last-minute loss of Hank, these guys are still tough, tough even by Swedish standards. They got the best unis the ice and having Nicky on the squad puts them on the side of the angels. Three guys named Ericsson or Eriksson or Ericksssson (no relation) ain’t so bad either.
Bronze: Russia. Despite that gangster Putin, we’d be OK with the Russian Squad doing well, even winning Gold. Because Ovi. However, too much KHL riff raff on the roster will ultimately be their undoing on the home ice. Sorry Vladimir, karma’s a bitch.
So those are our picks. Your turn. Pick gold, silver, and bronze for the Olympic tourney and show your work!