Olympic Hockey 2014: Updated Gold-Medal Odds for Every Team

Dave LozoNHL National Lead WriterFebruary 16, 2014

Olympic Hockey 2014: Updated Gold-Medal Odds for Every Team

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    The two most impressive teams in round-robin play were Canada and the United States, and that's why they're the two favorites to get to the gold-medal game for a second straight Olympics.

    Canada and the United States both went undefeated in group play, though Team USA needed a shootout to beat host Russia. The Swedes also went 3-0 in group play, but they have been ravaged by injury and will be without captain Henrik Zetterberg for the rest of the tournament.

    There are some dark horses as well, with Finland, Switzerland and the Czechs lurking in the shadows.

    These are our updated gold-medal odds following the end of round-robin play Sunday. Who has the best chance of winning gold? Click through to find out.

Canada

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Best asset: Forward/defense depth

    Forget the nonsense that your third or fourth lines need role players—this is the Olympics, where having John Tavares on your fourth line is criminally unfair and advantageous. The same can be said for having either Drew Doughty or Alex Pietrangelo on your third defense pairing. There are just no holes among the skaters.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Goaltending

    It appears Carey Price will be the guy in net for the quarterfinals and beyond, but he doesn't have much in the way of big-game experience at the international or NHL level. If there's a weak link on this team, it's in net.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 2-1

United States

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Best asset: It's a team

    That sounds hokey and cliche, but Team USA is only at its best when everyone is clicking. The team is solid in all areas, but the familiarity many of these players have from the 2010 Olympics or from being NHL teammates has served them well in the tournament and will continue to do so in Sochi.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Five-on-five scoring

    Lost in the shootout win against Russia was the fact Team USA didn't score once at even strength. It had two power-play goals but couldn't solve Russia playing five-on-five. Sure, it did well against Slovakia and Slovenia, but if Team USA can't score against top teams at even strength, it will be in trouble.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 7-2

Sweden

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Best asset: Henrik Lundqvist

    In one-game eliminations, the goaltender can make all the difference. Lundqvist made a difference in 2006, when Sweden won gold, and he'll be asked to do it again. He was in net for all three Sweden victories in round-robin play.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Overcoming injuries

    After losing Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen before the tournament, captain Henrik Zetterberg had to withdraw because of a herniated disc. The squad will have to rely on its defense and Lundqvist in order to beat quality opponents in the quarterfinals and/or semifinals.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 6-1

Russia

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Best asset: Speed and skill

    The roster is dripping with talent, and that talent was on display in a hard-fought loss to Team USA. If the Russians can match their effort from that game over the rest of the tournament, they will be a tough team to send packing. They needed a shootout to beat Slovakia, but an easy relegation-round game before the quarters could be a good thing for them.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Shaky defense

    Russia is not loaded on the back end, although it didn't hurt the squad in group play. It will be interesting to see how it holds up when the competition level rises.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 7-1

Finland

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Best asset: Tuukka Rask

    The Finns scored in bunches during group play, but they'll only go as far as Rask can take them. He took the Boston Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 and is capable of perfection against any top team in the tournament.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Age

    There aren't too many spring chickens on this roster. How these players hold up as the tournament moves forward could determine whether the Finns will leave Sochi with a hockey medal.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 13-1

Switzerland

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Best asset: Jonas Hiller

    The defense in front of Hiller is equally as important. He hasn't allowed a goal in two starts and backup Reto Berra gave up one goal in a 1-0 loss to Sweden in his start. The Swiss are a sneaky dangerous team and could make a deep run if they're playing well defensively.

     

    Biggest obstacle: The lack of offense

    The squad only scored two goals in three games, and while that was enough in group play, it won't be enough to beat the likes of Russia or Canada if either shows up in the elimination round.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 19-1

Czech Republic

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Best asset: Experience

    It's not the first rodeo or big stage for Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias and David Krejci. The Czech roster is littered with veterans who have a reputation for being their best in big games.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Goaltending 

    Ondrej Pavelec stopped 25 of 26 shots in a 1-0 loss to Switzerland, but he was a healthy scratch in the Czechs' opener against Sweden and has not been good in his NHL career. 

     

    Gold-medal odds: 24-1

Slovakia

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Best asset: Zdeno Chara

    No team was more disappointing in round-robin play than Slovakia, which went winless and lost to Olympics first-timers Slovenia. But the squad can still be dangerous if it can figure things out, as it arguably has the best defenseman in the world in Zdeno Chara, as well as goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who took Slovakia to the bronze-medal game four years ago.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Just about everything else

    The Slovaks have a coach who's deploying his players in confounding ways, and there's not much depth. They've got the potential to get out of the relegation round but will be hard-pressed to get past the quarters.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 49-1

Latvia

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Best asset: Ted Nolan

    The one thing the Latvians have going for them is an NHL coach, but there's not much to get excited about here. Latvia has only one NHL player in Zemgus Girgensons and will be hard-pressed to move out of the relegation round.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Not being very good

    Latvia is not winning gold. Let's thank the players for their service and wish them the best in the future.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 500-1

Slovenia

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Best asset: Anze Kopitar

    The Slovenians can go home proud after the tournament no matter what, as they defeated Slovakia in group play for their first Olympic win. Kopitar had a beauty goal in that win, and he'll need to have a couple more in his stick in order for Slovenia to get a second win.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Lack of talent

    The squad worked really hard against Team USA on Saturday but just couldn't match the talent level. That's going to be a problem no matter who it faces over the rest of the tournament.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 1,000-1

Austria

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Best asset: Thomas Vanek/Michael Grabner

    Austria has just enough NHL talent to scare teams for a short period of time, and if Vanek and Grabner have a great game, anything is possible. The problem is doing it against the top teams and over two or three or four games.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Everything else

    Seriously, there are teams in this tournament that are just overmatched, and Austria is one of them.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 25,000-1

Norway

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Best asset: Sweet uniforms

    Norway is not very good. It gave the Canadians a game for 20 minutes and that's about it. But look at those jerseys. If you're going to lose, look good doing it.

     

    Biggest obstacle: Minimal talent

    Besides Mats Zuccarello, it's a bunch of non-NHL players. The gold is not in this team's future.

     

    Gold-medal odds: 50,000-1