Latvia vs. Switzerland 12:00 PM ET
According to hockey betting odds Switzerland is a -650 money line favorite, is -1.5 (-170) on the puck line, and the posted total in this game is 5.5. If you want to go under the total of 5.5 it would be at -165, and to go over 5.5 it’s at +125. These two clubs will be part of Group C during round robin play which also includes Sweden and the Czech Republic.
A Rising Hockey Power
The Swiss have steadily climbed up the ladder in the international ice hockey power rankings quicker than anyone else in the world. They’re currently ranked 7th in the world, and are no longer considered a patsy when facing the upper echelon teams. Just look back to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver when they took eventual champion Canada to an overtime shootout before losing during the round robin portion of the tournament. They defeated Belarus in qualification play to advance to the quarterfinals where they were eliminated by the Americans 2-0. The Swiss roster includes over 30% of their players that currently earn a paycheck in the NHL. This is also a team that claimed the silver medal at the 2013 World Championship. Granted that was versus a weaker field than they will see in Sochi, but was still a major accomplishment for Swiss hockey.
Plenty of Fan Support
The one thing that’s guaranteed for the Latvian team is that they will have plenty of fan support in Sochi. The Latvian fans are among the most passionate in all of international hockey. The majority of the Latvian roster is made up of players from Dynamo Riga in the KHL (Russian Premier League). They have just one player that’s currently earning a living in the NHL, and that’s 20-year old Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres). They will also rely on former NHL defensemen 41-year old Sandis Ozolinsh who retired from international play in 2006, but returned to help his country qualify for the Olympics in 2013. The Latvian team head coach is Ted Nolan who currently acts in the same capacity for the Buffalo Sabres.
Latvia will be able to stick around for awhile in this game, and feed off the energy of their rabid fans. However, the Swiss are a hungry bunch that won’t take the game lightly, and will ultimately pull away for an easy win. Take Switzerland in your sports picks for this Olympic match-up.
Free Pick: Switzerland -1.5 (-170) over Latvia on the puck-line.