Olympic Hockey Picks: Slovenia vs. U.S.A.

David Lawrence

Saturday, February 15, 2014 5:51 PM GMT

The United States is coming off an epic win over the Russians as they outlasted them 3-2 in a shootout. Are they ripe for a letdown against a potentially underrated Slovenian team?

Who will win the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics Men’s Hockey?

Slovenia Can Win Because…

The Americans could have an emotional letdown in this game. Let’s face it: they’re coming off an intense win over Russia in which the Americans needed the shootout to outlast the hosts. They’re going to have a tough time getting up for this game on a quick turnaround.

Slovenia definitely isn’t a gold medal contender but they’ve already proven that they can be quite competitive. They lost 5-2 to Russia but that was a very tight 3-2 game entering the third period. Then they followed that up with an upset win over Slovakia. The USA is feeling very good right now and they just might overlook the Slovenians.

USA Can Win Because….

To this point, they’ve been the best team in the tournament. We haven’t seen many heavyweight matchups in this tournament just yet but the Americans won the first one. On Saturday morning, the beat Russia 3-2. Even though the game was in hostile territory on an international-sized rink, they still got the job done. So much for the fact that their defensemen are young and inexperienced. They’ve looked great through two games as the Americans have allowed just three goals so far.

With Jonathan Quick serving as the rock in the back end and the Americans in front of him playing with a lot of confidence, it’s hard to see them losing here.

Outlook & Pick

Although it’s the preliminary round here, the Americans do have something on the line here: a bye. If they beat Slovenia, they can get a bye in the next round, which is quite important. Although I think they get the win, I wouldn’t lay the 4.5 pucks here. There’s the chance that they might come out a bit sluggish or lack some intensity to start, and there’s also the possibility that Slovenia might be a bit better than what we thought. They’ll get the win but it might be closer than expected.

Pick: Slovenia +4.5 -131 at Pinnacle

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