1. Russia (-200)
2. USA (+175)
3. Slovakia (+900)
4. Slovenia (+10,000)
The Russians seem to be the consensus favorite to not only win their group, but also to go on and win the gold medal. Popular opinion being that playing on home soil will be enough to propel them back to top of the podium, and restore them back the glory years when they were known as the USSR. I’m not as sold on this Russian club as the vast majority of others are. Their first 2-lines will all consist of NHL players, while the other two are filled by players from the Russian premier league (KHL). This is just another example of Russian propaganda in trying to prove a point on a world stage through sports.
The USA team is the best value in this group at +175. They’re an experienced international squad with a plethora of team speed, and possessing excellent goaltending. They will be tested early on as they open with games versus Slovakia on Thursday, and then take on the host Russians on Saturday.
If you’re looking for a legitimate dark horse, and are feeling lucky, then a small wager on Slovakia at +900 wouldn’t be the worst wager you ever made. The Slovakians roster is filled with 56% of their players coming from the NHL. This squad is totally capable of upsetting both the Americans and Russians. The likelihood of that happening isn’t highly probable, but it’s very realistically possible.
Slovenia is a nice story but has absolutely no chance of winning a game in this tournament. It’s the first ever time they’ve qualified for the Olympics in men’s hockey, and they have just one NHL players (Anze Kopitar) on their roster. They certainly weren’t helped by being placed in the strongest group in round robin play.
1. Canada (-700)
2. Finland (+350)
3. Norway (+5,000)
4. Austria (+10,000)
The Canadians are a monumental favorite to wins this group and rightfully so. However, laying $700.00 to win $100.00 is something I would never advise to do. The toughest test for the defending Olympic champions will come versus Finland on Sunday. Their opening 2-games versus Norway and Austria will be a walk in the park.
Finland is a team that can be very frustrating to play against. They’re notorious for playing a disciplined and deliberate style, which can make superior opponents look very ordinary. The Finnish goaltending is capable of stealing a game in this tournament, especially when we get to qualification play. Basically at +350 to win the group, it will come down to their final game in round robin play versus Canada. When you simplify it in those terms, then they’re a pretty good value, and worth a small wager.
Austria (+10,000) and Norway (+5,000) will both be eyeing their clash on Sunday as an excellent opportunity to win their only game in this tournament. Norway has shown great strides on the international level, while Austria will be making their first appearance in men’s hockey at the Olympics since 2002.
1. Sweden (-2000)
2. Czech Republic (+200)
3. Switzerland (+700)
4. Latvia (+8,000)
Sweden is the odds on favorite and rightfully so. The Swedes will be a force in this tournament, and a team that I firmly believe has an excellent chance of capturing the Gold Medal. All but one player on their roster plays in the NHL. Their goaltender Henrik Lundquist (Rangers) is one of the best in the world in addition to having a solid and mobile defense, while topping it off with enormous amount of skilled forwards.
The Czech Republic forwards as a whole are as good, or better, than any team in the tournament. However, they’re defense is suspect, and their goaltending is extremely weak. I’m of the opinion this may be the most overvalued team in the tournament, and are primed to disappoint once again.
If there’s a legitimate long shot in this group it’s certainly the Swiss. No country has made the kind of progress at the international level more than the Switzerland. The level of play in the Swiss Premier League is vastly underrated, and they’ve made a habit of springing upsets in recent years at the international level. A small wager on this club at +700 to win the group is a great value.
Latvia will be hard pressed to win a game in the tournament. They’re coached by current Buffalo Sabres head man Teddy Nolan who did a terrific job of getting this team to qualify. They have just one current NHL player on their roster. This tiny country has just a shade over 1200 registered hockey players, and a a population of just over 2,000,000.
- Gold: Sweden (+400)
- Silver: Canada (+200)
- Bronze: United States (+600)
- Russia (+200)
- Czech Republic (+1,000)
- Switzerland (+2,500)
- Slovakia (+3,300)
- Finland (+1,000)