Olympic Hockey Means Vancouver Style Home Cookin'

Peter WisnieffContributor IDecember 25, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY - FEBRUARY 24:  Goaltender Martin Brodeur #30 of Canada smiles as he skates with his gold medal around his neck after the game against the USA in the men's ice hockey gold medal game at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games on February 24, 2002 at the E Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Canada defeated the USA 5-2.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The World Junior Championship starts tomorrow, but today's release of the Russian Olympic roster has me thinking about the real show that's just around the corner in Vancouver

Naturally, I feel that it's my duty to add my own two cents to the mix of Olympic hockey predictions.  So if going for a quick wheel with the boys at the local pond or rink is your idea of winter fun then you're in for a treat as I breakdown the outlook for this year's Olympic hockey tournament.

Gold Medal: Canada No one can match Canada in terms of goaltending and defensemen and that goes a long way in a single elimination playoff format.  Oh yeah, Sidney Crosby and the rest of their forwards aren't too bad either.

Silver Medal: Sweden The Rangers would have a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup every year if they let Henrik Lundqvist wear his team Sweden jersey all year long.  Also, don't forget that half the Swedes will be well rested since they've been dogging it all year in Detroit.

Bronze Medal : USA On the positive side, Ryan Miller is on fire this year (to the extent that last year's Vezina trophy winner will be riding the pine) and the young D-corps has some solid potential.  On the downside, David Booth was going to be counted on as one of the top scorers before Mike Richards scrambled his eggs.

Fourth Place: Russia In case you haven't heard, the Russians are one the most intimidating offensive juggernauts in recent memory and number one goalie Evgeni Nabokov is no slouch either.  However, their defensemen remind me more of the 1992-93 Ottawa Senators than Olympic champions.

Fifth Place: Czech Republic It's a close call between the Czechs and Finland but the Czech's dynamic group of forwards (which includes the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, et al.) set them apart.

Sixth Place: Finland Miikka Kiprusoff is a good start in net, but I don't think they have the players elsewhere to compete with the top guns.

Seventh Place: Slovakia When you're trying to compete in the Olympics it's not a good thing to find yourself counting on the likes of Jaroslav Halak or Peter Budaj to keep you in games.

Eighth Place: Belarus It's too bad they don't get to shoot on Tommy Salo anymore.

Ninth Place: Switzerland It takes more than two players to carry a team in the Olympics (especially when one of those is a goalie with only one year of NHL experience).