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

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, February 13, 2014 6:23 PM GMT

The most anticipated matchup in Group A of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament takes place on Saturday when the United States faces off versus Russia. The opening puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 AM ET.

USA vs. Russia 7:30 AM ET

At the time of this writing, hockey odds are indicating that Russia is anywhere between a -105 to -117 money line favorite. The early posted total in this contest is 5.5. Going under that total can be wagered at a +110 and an over wager will be -145.

Their Opening Games

The United States couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Olympic tournament with a 7-1 rout of a formidable Slovakia team. The Americans led by a narrow 1-0 margin after one period, and then proceeded to score 6-goals in the 2nd period to break a close game wide open. They outshot Slovakia in the game 33-23. Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings) was solid in goal stopping 22 of 23 shots net. Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs) had a goal and 2 assists while Paul Stasny (Colorado Avalanche) chipped in a pair of goals to pave the way for Team USA. Ryan Kessler (Vancouver Canucks) also contributed a goal and an assist and was a +4.

Russia had a harder time than expected in the opening game of the tournament with a 5-2 win over Slovenia. The Russians narrowly led 3-2 lead entering the 3rd period. They added 2-goals in the final stanza to put them game away, and an entire country breathed a sigh of relief. Team Russia held a huge territorial advantage in the game outshooting the Slovenians 35-14. Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) led the way for Russia with a goal and 2 assists.

Final Analysis

Russia will have to be much better than they showed in their opening game. They faced a Slovenia team that qualified for the Olympic tournament for their first time ever. They will be stepping way up in class to face an American team that’s a legitimate contender to win the gold medal. In my opinion the Russians will be much sharper mentally, and exhibit a lot more intensity than they displayed in their opening game. The home crowd in Sochi will sure to provide them with a much needed energy boost versus an American team that was awfully impressive in their opening win. Home ice will be the difference for our sports pick for this one in what otherwise should be an extremely close game.

Free Pick: Russia -110 over the United States

2014 Winter Olympics Men's Group A Hockey Betting Odds