Czech Republic vs. Sweden 12:00 PM ET
According to hockey betting odds Sweden is a -180 money line favorite, and the Swedes are -1.5 (+170) on the puck-line. The posted total is currently 5.5. A bet on under 5.5 is at (-190), while over 5.5 can be wagered at +150. These teams will play in Group C along with Switzerland and Latvia in the round robin portion of the competition.
Swedes looking for Atonement
The Swedes will be out to atone for a disappointing 5th place finish at the Vancouver games in 2010. In those games they swept through their 3 round robin games defeating Finland, Belarus, and Germany by a combined 9-2 score. In the quarterfinals they were upset by Slovakia, and their medal quest abruptly came to an end.
A Loaded Roster
The Swedes will be one of the favorites entering the tournament as they’re currently listed at -200 to win their group, and +400 to capture gold. There’s currently 96% of their roster employed in the NHL. Their #1 goaltender Henrik Lundquist isn’t only one of the best in the NHL, but can arguably considered as the best in the world. Their forwards aren’t only offensively skilled but are defensively responsible. The defense has a nice blend of youth, and experience, led by stalwart Niklas Kronwall. The only flaw I can detect from the Swedes is their lack of physicality. When they face teams like Canada and the United States how will they respond versus an opponent that plays a more physical game?
It seems like many light years ago that the Czech Republic won gold at the Olympics led by the heroic goaltending of Dominik Hasek. Their showing in 2010 in Vancouver was less than impressive. After finishing the preliminary round by going 2-1, they barely squeaked by Latvia 3-2 in overtime during qualification play. They were then eliminated by Finland in the quarterfinals in a 1-0 defeat. The 2014 Czech Republic team has a plethora of talent at the forward position. However, defensively and in goal there are substantial question marks, I have to assume there will be many goals scored when making our sports picks.
Free Pick: Czech Republic and Sweden to go over the total of 5.5.