Olympic Hockey Picks: Slovenia vs. Austria

David Lawrence

Sunday, February 16, 2014 7:06 PM GMT

Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014 7:06 PM GMT

Slovenia fought valiantly in the preliminary round of the 2014 Winter Olympic hockey tournament and they’ve now earned themselves a favorable matchup in the qualification stage. They’ll be fairly evenly matched against an Austria team that similarly won one of their first three games.

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Slovenia Can Win Because…

They’ve been more competitive than we thought they could be. Slovenia was in a tough group in the opening round as they had to play Russia, USA and Slovakia. They beat Slovakia and were only trialing Russia by a goal in the third period. Most people expected Slovenia to finish the opening round with three inconspicuous losses but this team showed they’re ready to compete.

Austria has one win but that came against Norway. Other than that, they were outscored 14-4 in their other two games. They are definitely beatable.

Austria Can Win Because….

The opponent is among the lower-tier teams in the tournament. Austria didn’t have a great preliminary round as they lost two of three, but two the teams played earned a bye through qualification. That’s better than what the Slovenians can say and that shows they played tougher competition.

The Austrians at least have a few NHLers that can change the dynamic of this game. Michael Grabner has looked great on his line with Michael Raffl, as he’s tallied five goals in three games. Now if they can just get Thomas Vanek going, they’ll surely get the win here.

Outlook & Pick

I’m tempted to take a shot with Slovenia as our sports pick here. Austria was bombed by their first two opponents and only managed a win against winless Norway. In my eyes, Slovenia has played slightly better in this tournament and might surprise here. Their win over Slovakia shows me that they’re more than capable of beating a team like Austria.

Pick: Slovenia at Pinnacle

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