Medal Predictions for Men's Ice Hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics

Dave Lozo@@davelozoNHL National Lead WriterJanuary 9, 2014

Medal Predictions for Men's Ice Hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics

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    The rosters are set and so are the matchups, so it's about time we made predictions for the men's ice hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

    Can Canada repeat? Will the United States get revenge and win its first gold medal since 1980? Who will be the Cinderella of this year's tournament?

    The following includes predictions for each group's winners, the quarterfinals, semifinals and bronze- and gold-medal games. Please enjoy and feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments.

Who Will Win Group A?

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    Taking advantage of playing at home, the Russians will emerge victorious in Group A.

    Anyone who has traveled internationally will tell you it takes days to get adjusted to the time difference, and that will prevent the United States from excelling during the preliminary round. Slovakia won't be able to handle Russia's speed and skill, and Slovenia will be run over by everyone it plays.

    The Russians won't just win Group A—they'll run the table.

    Predicted Order of Finish:

    1. Russia
    2. United States
    3. Slovakia
    4. Slovenia

Who Will Win Group B?

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    Canada will take advantage of an overmatched group and roll through the competition without suffering a loss.

    Finland appears to be Canada's toughest matchup, but Canada's deep group of forwards should blitz the weak Finland defense. That leaves Norway and Austria in a battle to see who finishes third in the group.

    There will come a time in the tournament when Canada will be tested, but it won't be in group play.

    Predicted Order of Finish:

    1. Canada
    2. Finland
    3. Norway
    4. Austria

Who Will Win Group C?

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    There won't be much resistance in Group C for Sweden, who should have little trouble imposing its will on the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia.

    The Swedes are deep at every position and would likely have to run into a hot goaltender or completely lose interest midway through a game to lose at this stage. Switzerland presents an interesting matchup, but the Swedes are far superior to the Swiss.

    Predicted Order of Finish:

    1. Sweden
    2. Switzerland
    3. Czech Republic
    4. Latvia

Projected Quarterfinal Matchups

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    The four countries to earn byes into the quarterfinal round will be group winners Russia, Canada and Sweden along with Group A runner-up United States.

    That sets up these four matchups in the qualification round for the right to play in the quarterfinals:

    5. Finland over 12. Slovenia

    6. Switzerland over 11. Latvia

    7. Slovakia over 10. Austria

    8. Czech Republic over 9. Norway

    Those winners will face the countries that earned byes in what should be four terrific games:

    1. Sweden vs. 8. Czech Republic

    2. Canada vs. 7. Slovakia

    3. Russia vs. 6. Switzerland

    4. United States vs. 5. Finland

    To see the predicted winners of the quarterfinals, click over to the next slide.

Projected Semifinal Matchups

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    With the top eight teams remaining, the quarterfinals will feature the tournament's top squads. Here's how those games will shake out and set up for a memorable semifinal round.

    1. Sweden over 8. Czech Republic

    The Swedes' depth will be too much for the Czechs to handle, as Ondrej Pavelec will have no answer for the onslaught he will face.

    7. Slovakia over 2. Canada

    In the tournament's first true upset, the Slovaks will stun the defending champs. It will be especially rough for fans of the Montreal Canadiens, as former goaltender Jaroslav Halak will get the better of current netminder Carey Price.

    3. Russia vs. 6. Switzerland

    This will go right down to the wire, as Jonas Hiller will put on a goaltending display. But in overtime, the Russians will advance to the semifinals.

    4. United States vs. 5. Finland

    The Finns will be looking for revenge after they were blown out 6-0 by the U.S. team in the 2010 Olympic semifinals, but the Americans will again reign supreme.

    That will leave us with the following semifinal matchups:

    1. Sweden vs. 4. United States

    7. Slovakia vs. 3. Russia

    Who will advance to the gold-medal game? Who will have to settle for bronze? The next two slides will answer those questions.

Bronze-Medal Game Prediction: United States Defeats Slovakia

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    The U.S. team will lose its semifinal matchup with Sweden, while the Slovaks' surprising run will be ended at the hands of the Russians. That leads to Team USA and Slovakia playing in the consolation game.

    The Americans won't be able to handle the Swedes, but the Slovaks won't have the horses to compete. The U.S. team's lack of offense will doom them vs. Sweden, but they will have enough to get past Zdeno Chara and the Slovaks for their second straight Olympics with a medal.

    That leaves Sweden and Russia to face off in the gold-medal game. Who'll win this classic showdown? The next and final slide has the answer.

Gold-Medal Game Prediction: Sweden Defeats Russia

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    The Swedes will complete a perfect run through Sochi by defeating the host nation in the gold-medal game. It will be Sweden's second gold medal in three Olympics, as they took gold in 2006 at Turin.

    Henrik Lundqvist, who has been a mess throughout the NHL season, will win the tournament MVP. 

    The Russian squad will put up a valiant fight, but Lundqvist will make the difference as he wins his second gold medal, along with teammates Niklas Kronwall, Nicklas Backstrom, Erik Karlsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson.


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