Olympic Hockey Preview: How They Stack Up
This years' Olympics appears to be showing more of a shift from veteran players to the youth of today.
This should promise a lot of exciting games.
But who really stands to have the best Olympics this year. Will Canada rebound from last Olympics disappointment? Will Sweden continue to build on their successes? Or maybe Russia's high flying offence can get things done.
Whatever the tale 2010 looks to be a good one.
The following article is a closer look at the top six medal contenders for the upcoming Olympics.
Team: Czech Republic
The Czech's, like the Finns, are one of those teams if you let hang around have a chance to beat you. They have a solid cast of players that could potentially upset some of the bigger teams.
Patrik Elias – Tomas Plekanec – Martin Havlat
Milan Michalek – Roman Cervenka – Jaromir Jagr
Tomas Fleischmann – Petr Cajanek – David Krejci
Tomas Rolinek – Josef Vasicek – Martin Erat
Tomas Kaberle – Filip Kuba
Pavel Kubina – Jan Hejda
Zybnek Michalek – Marek Zidlicky
Roman Polak – Miroslav Blatak
Forwards: (B+) They certainly have potential up front with the likes of Elias, Havlat, and the very hot Plekanec at the helm.
Defence: (B-) The defence is a little weak. They may struggle in the tournament.
Goaltenders: (B+) Vokoun by no means is a bad goalie, but in comparison with the other teams it is just not up to snuff.
Projected finish: The Czechs will likely finish in 6th place, due to the fact that the defence and goaltending will get overwhelmed by the firepower other teams have to offer.
The United States are underdogs this year, and don't have overly high expectations. They do have a solid core of young talent that will be dominant in years to come, but for now hopes aren't to high.
Bobby Ryan – Zach Parise – Patrick Kane
Jamie Langenbrunner – Phil Kessel – Dustin Brown
Ryan Malone – Paul Stastny – Ryan Callahan
Chris Drury – Joe Pavelski – Ryan Kesler
Brian Rafalski – Erik Johnson
Paul Martin – Brooks Orpik
Ryan Suter – Mike Komisarek
Forwards: (A-) Kane and Parise should provide the majority of offence for the club. Kessel and Brown are in their own slums which could negatively effect what would have been a better offence.
Defence: (B-) The defence is a major weakness for the Americans, with Rafalski getting older and some young unproven players this will be the Achilles heel for the Americans.
Goaltenders: (A+) Miller and Thomas are two of the best goalies in the NHL, and is the best tandem in the Olympics. They will be the States' only hope at a medal.
Projected finish: Despite Millers' efforts in goal, the Americans will be upset and finish 5th.
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Finland is always a competitor in men's hockey. They can ice a team that has the potential to upset some of the bigger-named teams. In the Olympic format of single-game eliminations, Finland has a solid shot at making noise.
Olli Jokinen – Mikko Koivu – Teemu Selanne
Niklas Hagman – Saku Koivu – Jarkko Immonen
Jarkko Ruutu – Tuomo Ruutu – Jere Lehtinen
Antti Miettinen – Valtteri Filppula – Niko Kapanen
Kimmo Timonen – Toni Lydman
Joni Pitkanen – Sami Salo
Sami Lepisto – Janne Niskala
Forwards: (B) They certainly have some players that can score, but maybe not enough to compete with the big boys.
Defence: (C+) Not enough to stop the powerhouse countries.
Goaltenders: (A+) The Finns are known for their goaltending ability, and any team with Mikka Kiprusoff and Niklas Backstrom has a good chance at winning.
Projected finish: 4th. Kiprusoff will steal some games but they will come up short in the medal rounds.
Image Courtesy: Zimbio
The Swedish club is the reigning gold medal champions from the 2006 Olympic games. This years' club features a very familiar crew. The only question is whether some key forwards will be healthy and able to contribute enough.
Loui Eriksson – Nicklas Backstrom – Daniel Alfredsson
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Henrik Zetterberg
Tomas Holmstrom – Peter Forsberg – Henrik Tallinder
Fredrik Modin – Samuel Pahlsson – Patric Hornqvist
Nicklas Lidstrom – Mattias Ohlund
Niklas Kronwall – Johnny Oduya
Tobias Enstrom – Douglas Murray
Forwards: (A-) They have two solid scoring lines, but some forwards have been struggling with injuries which could result in some changes before the Olympics start.
Defence: (B+) Any defence with Lidstrom is in good shape, but the second and third units may struggle against some other clubs.
Goaltenders: (A) Lundqvist is a big gam goalie that pulled through last Olympics and could do so again
Projected finish: Bronze Medal. Other teams have improved too much for Sweden to repeat.
Image Courtesy: The Hockey Blog
The Russians are firing with one of their best squads in recent memory. They have a lights-out offence and solid goaltending, they are one of the greatest threats for the gold medal, and will walk away with something.
Ilya Kovalchuk – Evgeni Malkin – Alex Ovechkin
Alexander Semin – Pavel Datsyuk – Maxim Afinogenov
Aleksey Morozov – Sergei Fedorov – Viktor Kozlov
Alexander Radulov – Sergei Zinoviev – Danis Zaripov
Sergei Gonchar – Andrei Markov
Dmitri Kalinin – Anton Volchenkov
Fedor Tyutin – Denis Grebeshkov
Ilya Nikulin – Konstantin Korneev
Forwards: (A+) They have an absolutely dynamic first two lines.
Defence: (B+) Gonchar is a solid defender and Markov should provide scoring from the back end, but things weaken out after that.
Goaltemders: (A) Nabokov and Bryzgalov provide solid depth in goal.
Projected finish: The Russians will lose a tightly fought game and take home the silver medal.
Image Courtesy: tosports.ca
Team Canada has a new man at the helm, and he looks to right the ship, and that is just what he has done. This years' version of Team Canada is much stronger than in 2006, and will look to reclaim the gold medal.
Rick Nash – Sidney Crosby – Jarome Iginla
Dany Heatley – Joe Thornton – Patrick Marleau
Eric Staal – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Brenden Morrow – Patrice Bergeron – Mike Richards
Shea Weber – Dan Boyle
Chris Pronger – Scott Niedermayer
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Forwards: (A+) They have huge scoring depth all the way down to the thirteenth forward. Realistically they could have made another contending team with the players Yzerman cut.
Defence: (A+) The Canadian defence is the best in the tournament, they host six of the top scoring defencemen in the league and the strongest defensive defencemen in the league.
Goaltenders: (A+) Any team that has Martin Brodeur has to be a frontrunner. Brodeur is the best goalie of all time, and will lead this team through the tournament.
Projected finish: Barring an unforeseen effort like last Olympics, the Canadians should win their second gold in three games.
Image Courtesy: TSN