Olympic Hockey Picks: Austria vs. Norway

Ross Benjamin

Saturday, February 15, 2014 5:42 PM GMT

Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014 5:42 PM GMT

The round robin competition in Group B concludes on Sunday with one of the games scheduled coming between Norway and Austria. The opening puck drop is slated for 3:00 AM ET.

Norway vs. Austria 3:00 AM ET

According to hockey betting odds Norway is a -350 money line favorite, and is -1.5 (+125) on the puck-line. The early posted total in this contest is 5.5. In all probability the winner of this game will capture their only win of the tournament, and the loser will return home after 4 straight losses. I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself. However, both of these teams will be a huge underdog in the qualification round which comes next.

Trying to Take the Next Step

Norway was 0-4 in the 2010 Olympic tournament in Vancouver, but they did come away feeling as if they made some giant strides. They lost their final game of group play 5-4 in overtime versus Switzerland, and then held their own in a 3-2 loss in the qualification round versus Slovakia. It’s imperative that they come away with a win versus Austria on Sunday in order to continue to make progress. The final IIHF world rankings showed the Norwegians ranked 9th. This will be an excellent opportunity for Norway to win their first game at the Olympics since 1994 when they won the 11th place game, which ironically came versus Austria.

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Best Chance for a Win

Austria qualified to play in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament for the first time since 2002. The return hasn’t been a pleasant one thus far as they’ve dropped their first 2-games to Finland and Canada by combined scores of 14-4. They opened the tournament with an 8-4 loss to Finland. Micheal Grabner made some headlines for the Austrians in the loss by recording a hat trick. Austria actually held a pair of early leads 1-0 and 2-1, before Finland scored 5 unanswered goals to seize control of the game. They were thoroughly overmatched versus Canada on Friday getting blanked 6-0. Austria has been outshot in their first 2-games by a combined 98-43. The good news is that Sunday’s opponent (Norway) is nowhere near in the same class as their first 2 foes. Although they’re installed as a large underdog in this contest, this will be by far their best chance to come away with a win at these Olympics. With a win Austria will assuredly improve upon their 2013 IIHF world ranking of 15th.

Final Analysis

Although both of these teams have little, if any chance, of advancing beyond the qualification round, this will be a huge game in their eyes. Whoever wins this game will be pretty much assured of finishing in 9th place which would be considered a monumental feat, and a huge step in the right direction for their respective countries hockey federations. This should be a highly competitive game with both teams playing with a high degree of desperation. I’m looking for a low scoring affair in this one.

Free Pick: Austria/Norway to go under the total of 5.5

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