Olympic Hockey Picks: Switzerland vs. Latvia

David Lawrence

Monday, February 17, 2014 12:52 PM GMT

Monday, Feb. 17, 2014 12:52 PM GMT

Switzerland and Latvia will square off in the qualification playoffs on Tuesday in a rematch from the preliminary round. The Swiss shut out Latvia 1-0 and will tried to ride Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller to another victory. The winner will take on Canada in the knockout stage.

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Switzerland Can Win Because…

They’ve got Jonas Hiller. Switzerland has been phenomenal defensively so far as they’ve given up just one goal in three games. Moreover, that one goal came with just seven seconds left in regulation against Sweden. That figure is best in the tournament and Hiller has already collected two shutouts. When you consider that they’ve already played Sweden and the Czech Republic, two decent offensive teams, and they’ve only allowed one goal, that shows you just how good they are at the back end. Latvia knows that first hand as they were shut out 1-0 themselves.

Latvia hasn’t been very impressive so far as they’ve lost all three of their games, losing by more than a goal in each of their other two losses. Switzerland should keep them under wraps here and get them win.

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Latvia Can Win Because….

Their offense has been pretty good. Although they were stymied by Switzerland, they managed to score three goals against Sweden and a pair against the Czech Republic. Clearly, they have the prowess to break through and they’ll have to find a way on Tuesday.

The thing with Switzerland is that while their defense/goaltending has been awesome, their offense has not. Yes, Switzerland allowed the fewest goals of anyone in the preliminary round but no other team scored less than them either. They had just two goals in three games. Latvia doesn’t need to do too much to win here. One or two goals could seal the deal.

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Outlook & Pick

Odds are that Switzerland advances here. They’ve actually played better than expected as they won two of their three games in the preliminary rounds while Latvia lost all three of their games.

Defense and goaltending usually lead the way in hockey and Switzerland trumps Latvia in that category.

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