Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

Olympic Hockey Predictions

The Winter Olympics are one hell of a curse this time around. I'm amazed at just how many players are dropping out of this tournament due to injury.
I almost feel sorry for Gary Bettman. Almost.

As a side rant, I don't at all agree with those who would have 'amateurs' play (such as the juniors or U-23, as I've heard suggested) instead of NHLers. For me, the Olympics should always be about the best of the best. I want to see the very best in the world, at every sport, compete against one another for Olympic glory. I know the Olympics are basically a big money-sucking corporate-buttkissing, gouge-the-taxpayers to throw a big-party event (those of us in Vancouver aren't shocked at how expensive the 2010 games are going to be. Another $110 million budget increase? *yawn*, like we didn't expect that), but I like to live in my dream world where the Olympics is all about the best in sports.

Now, here are my Olympic Hockey Predictions.

1. Czech Republic
The Czechs have a very strong roster, and also the good fortune of having the best health. While other teams' players are falling like flies against a semi, the Czechs actually got a boost when Petr Prucha went down to injury and was replaced by Patrik Elias.

The big question? Who starts in goal? Hasek has returned to great form and Tomas Vokoun has been THE MAN for the Czechs for recent events. Either way, the Czechs can't go wrong.

2. Canada
Canada is still a very strong team, but they have been hit hard with injuries to their blue line. The losses of Jovanovski, Niedermayer, and McCabe deal a serious blow offensively. Jovocop and Niedermayer are great skaters and perfect for the big ice. Martin Brodeur better come up big, because the team is no longer as awesome as it looked.

3. Russia
Don’t discount this offensive machine, as Nikolai Khabibulin won't be around to suck away their chances with his suspect goaltending of late. Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Yashin, Frolov, Afinogenov up front with an experienced defence behind them...this lineup can do some serious damage and is relatively healthy.

4. Slovakia
Either one of Jan Lasak or Karol Krizan (I hope he gets his shot) will make a deal with Satan (not Miroslav) and play out of his mind for two weeks. The Slovaks great offence will kick into high gear and somehow, Radoslav Suchy, Ivan Majesky, and Martin Strbak will play 300% better than they have in their NHL tenures. Sure, I'm delusional, but nobody else is giving this team some love.

5. Finland
I would rank them higher, normally, but they've suffered some key injuries as of late, such as Joni Pitkanen, Sami Kapanen, and Ossi Vaananen. Without Kiprusoff as the #1 goaltender and with Kari Lehtonen pulling out, I don't think Finland has nearly enough offence to be a serious gold threat without some great goaltending behind them. Still, we know Finland is always tough to beat and plays better than the sum of their parts.

6. USA
Great bunch of forwards, but absolutely awful goaltending.
You can read more about Team USA in the little preview I wrote for Eurohockey.net

7. Sweden
No Floppa, No Naslund, no chance! These bunch of chokers will fail just as miserably as they always do.

8. Germany
Uwe Krupp
is the head coach? "MUSH, MUSH!" Look for Marco Sturm to score up a storm, but don't expect much more than the usual 8th from Germany

9. Latvia
They'ds contends fors golds ifs thes objects wass tos haves thes fanss whos loves tos partys thes mosts. Whys ams Is speakings likes as snakes? Justs looks ats thes names: Masalskis, Ozolinsh, Skrastins, Ignatjevs, Ankipans, Sprukts, Redlihs, Berzins, Cipruss. How the hell is Arturs not an "Irbes"?

10. Switzerland
Their defence isn't too shabby, but this bunch of mini-me's suffers from an inferiority complex and confidence problems that will always hold them back.

11. Kazakhstan
Nikolai Antropov and Vitali Kolesnik are their lone NHL players. I'm so happy to see the ghost of Konstantin Shafranov (The first Kazakh-born player ever in the NHL) is back!

12. Italy
Stick to soccer, overpriced fashion, and pasta. It's what you are good at.

Comments:
I thought McCabe was just added. He's still going, isn't he?
 
I thought he was injured, too.
I just can't keep up with everything. Damn technology! ;)
I still stand by my prediction. With him in the lineup, he's still a liability defensively, although he kicks serious PP ass.
 
Budaj is the Slovak starting goalie.
 
Budaj is the Slovak starting goalie. ...and then he woke up!
 
Sturm's out.
 
Hey, leave my Italians alone or I'll go lock you in a room with some of my Swedish cousins!
 
I think Dallas will do better than 5th.
 
Jes your a fricken biased canadian homer.
 
Hecht is out now, too. And wasn't Germany relegated in the last WHC? Their days as #8 are numbered...
 
Jes your a fricken biased canadian homer.

Oh, no! They're on to me!
 
Grahame looked really sharp last night. Possible that other squads will have tougher goaltending issues than Team USA. Can we tie DiPietro to the Tocchet/mob ring before next week? He's like, Sicilian, right?
 
Seriously, I wouldn't mind one bit if DiPietro and/or Esche were to mysteriously vanish or become injured. I like our chances much better if Ryan Miller were in the mix, but as of today, it looks like he's on call in the United States.
Beh.
 
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