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2/10/2014 2:43:00 PM
The Men’s Hockey Tournament at the Sochi
2014 Winter Olympics is almost upon us, so join us as we breakdown the odds to
win outright and deliver our best hockey
picks for your consideration.
NHL Picks: Olympic Men's Hockey Future Odds
Top FIVE Tournament Favourites: Canada +180, Russia +200,
Sweden +550, USA +700 and jointly Finland and Czech Republic at +1300.
format: The preliminary round serves up group
action with teams within each group facing off against one another. The top
four teams (the winners of each group and the best second placed team) from the
preliminary round advance into the quarterfinals while the remaining eight
teams will play a sudden-death playoff for the other four spots in the
Canada tops the hockey betting charts as the hot favourite at +180 for Gold at the
Sochi Olympics, which would mark their second straight Gold in as many
Olympics. However – and this is very interesting – odds on the ‘Winning Continent’
stand in stark contrast to this overarching market. North America is listed at
+130 while the Rest of the World is listed at a whopping -170. Seems like a bit
of a conundrum.
Now, this could be down to the fact that
only two of the twelve teams competing represent North American – USA (listed
at +700 to win outright at Bet365) and Canada – and, therefore, the balance of
the scale tips largely towards the remaining ten teams from Europe. Majority
rule, so to speak; hence, the favourable odds on teams outside of North
America. Or, this could be, symptomatic of an important caveat that hockey bettors should bear in mind:
That Canada have won two of the last three
Olympic Gold medals underscores their favourable odds at +180 at Bet365 to some extent but when both came on North
American soil – or rather NHL-standard sized ice – surely the shine comes off
their odds. Fact is North American teams do struggle on international-standard
ice, which is 61m x 30m and slightly wider than their NHL digs at 61m x 26m. Case
and point: Canada finished seventh in 2006 Torino (while USA finished eighth).
Another thing worth noting is the fact that since the Soviet Union’s domination
of the event, no team has managed to win back-to-back Gold medals.
Russia are nipping at Canada’s heels at
+200 to win the tournament and, by and large, they are the popular hockey pick to win outright. To finish
top three, they are tipped at -286 at
Home advantage underscores the inclination
towards Russia finishing atop the podium mainly, as well the team’s quality and
depth on offense. Oh, and this is the medal that Putin has his heart set on
most. Not for nothing does Putin get what he wants (no pun intended).
The last time Russia won Gold at the
Olympics was 22 years ago and their last turnout was arguably one of their
worst in recent memory where they finished sixth overall. In 1998, they won
Silver. In 2002, they won Bronze. In 2006, they finished fourth after losing
3-0 to Czech Republic in the Bronze medal game. So they’ll have all to do to
resurrect the old glory days of the Soviet Union, make no mistake.
Sweden are deemed the third favourites in
the competition, largely down to their top ranking in the world – an extension
of their 2013 IIHF World Championships victory. They were also Gold medallists
in Torino eight years ago. Given their weight class they are credible threats
for the coveted golden prize but with a slew of fresh injuries hitting the
squad, they will have all to do to reach the medal round. If you are looking to
back the Swedes in Winter Olympics
betting markets, take them at -143 hockey odds to finish top three – which
is a more likely outcome than winning the whole thing appears to be.
USA ring in as the fourth overall favourites
at +700 across sportsbooks to win it all
and they are listed at +120 to finish top three. These fancied odds are
largely down to their last Olympic performance where they finished with a
Silver medal in Vancouver after giving Canada a run for their money.
Given their lack of success outside of
North America however, where they have proven beatable, these odds smack of
disingenuous. Just like Canada, USA will struggle with the big ice. What’s
more, they’ve fallen into a rather tough Group A with Russia and Slovakia.
Right from the start odds are stacked against them, so it remains to be seen
how ready they will be for the elimination rounds.
Finland are severely underrated at +1300 hockey odds given they rank
second in the world rankings and have medalled at four of the last five
Olympics including a Bronze at Vancouver. Standing against Finland – and
perhaps going some way towards explaining their large odds to win outright – is
the fact that they’ve never won Gold at the Olympics. Having never done so
doesn’t mean they won’t ever win it. Does it?
This is a quality outfit with some of the
best goaltending to offer in the tournament, which could be the decisive factor
on the larger ice that promotes more offense. If you are on the fence with the
Fins, back them at +200 hockey odds
instead to finish top three at Bet365; after all, they’ve medalled in four
of the last five Olympics.
Dangerous floaters in the tournament
include Czech Republic, listed on par with Finland at +1300 to win outright or
thereabouts depending on your choice
sportsbook. The Czechs won Gold in 1998 Nagano and Bronze in 2006 Torino,
marking two medals in the last four Olympics. With veterans Jaromir Jagr and
Petr Nedved leading the charge for a podium finish, the Czechs can be best backed
on your hockey picks for a top three
finish at +220 at Bet365 as well.
Slovakia are the other dangerous floaters
in the tournament that hockey bettors
should spot. Despite a fourth-place finish in Vancouver and a runner-up finish
at the 2012 World Championships, sportsbooks are writing them off at +4000 to
win outright and at +700 to finish on the podium. While the former is a
stretch, the latter certainly isn’t. Building on the great strides they’ve made
in the game it’s very possible Slovakia would emerge into the top three at