Monday, January 18, 2010

Olympic Preview: Group C

With the Olympics approaching, Nonsense Hockey will be breaking down each team group-by-group to give you a little glimpse of how things may shake out in Vancouver. The teams will be ranked by points. After pool play, the top four teams will get a bye and teams seeded 5-12 will play quarterfinal matches. The winners will play the top four seeded teams in a battle for Olympic gold.

Team: Belarus
Current IIHF Rank: 8
Outlook: This may be the best team Belarus has ever fielded. Offensively they may be able to score some goals, with the Kostitsyn brothers (Montreal Canadiens) and Mikhail Grabosvki (Toronto Maple Leafs) possessing NHL abilities that can be showcased on an international stage. Konstantin Kolstov (Salavat Yulayev Ufa) is a speedy playmaker and former first round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins whose quickness is an asset in a more open game on an Olympic-size rink. Defensively Ruslan Salei (Colorado Avalanche) will be leaned on as their top defenseman and Viktor Kostyuchenok’s experience will be invaluable, having played at the World Championships from 2005-2009, being a plus-player on an otherwise minus team three of the five years. Andrei Mezin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk) will likely get the start in goal despite being 35 years of age. He played net at the 2009 World Championships for Belarus, standing on his head with a 1.72 GAA and a .948 save percentage. Belarus has some nice pieces and will compete, but like some of the other bottom-tier countries lack the depth to make a huge splash in Olympic competition.
PREDICTION: 9th

Team: Finland
Current IIHF Rank: 4
Outlook: The Finns will be a fun team to watch in Vancouver, coming off a silver medal performance in 2006. Miikka Kiprussoff (Calgary Flames) is a rock in goal and can win games almost by himself if he is playing his best (which he usually is). Defensively the Finns are slick-skating with Joni Pitkanen (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kimmo Timonen (Philadelphia Flyers) leading the charge. The Finns play a solid, error-free game and move the puck very well. Offensively they are lead by captain Saku Koivu (Anaheim Ducks) who brings experience and goal-scoring touch. Olli Jokinen (Calgary Flames) is a world-class offensive weapon, and the “Finnish Flash” himself, Teemu Selanne (Anaheim Ducks) is no stranger to playing on the world stage. Finland is solid and play a very tight game, something that is very important in a short tournament.

PREDICTION: Bronze medal


Team: Germany
Current IIHF Rank: 12
Outlook: The team will be well-coached, lead by former NHLer Uwe Krupp and will be looking to medal for the first time since its bronze medal 78 years ago. Unfortunately for the Germans, it’s not likely to come this Olympics. Goaltending is shaky, with San Jose Shark Thomas Greiss likely getting the starting nod. Defensively, Christian Ehrhoff (Vancouver Canucks) is reliable and Jakub Ficenic (ERC Ingolstadt) can shoot the puck hard and is a good offensive weapon from the point. Dennis Seidenberg (Florida Panthers) is a slick but quiet defenseman who goes unnoticed but plays fundamentally sound. Offensively Marcel Goc (Nashville Predators) will be leaned on heavily, as will Marco Sturm (Boston Bruins), but after those two the scoring falls off drastically. Philip Gogulla (Portland Pirates), who is Buffalo Sabres property, may chip in offensively but is not the game-changer that Germany desperately needs in its line-up. After finishing 10th in Italy, things don’t appear to have changed a whole lot for Germany.

PREDICITON: 11th

Team: Sweden
Current IIHF Rank: 3
Outlook: The Swedes will be defending their gold medal in Vancouver, but unfortunately their efforts may be in vain. Despite being rock solid in net with Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers) who is perhaps one of the top two or three goalies in the world, the team is lacking offensively. The back end is set, with Nicklas Lidstrom (Detroit Red Wings) who has a Norris trophy for every day of the week, and Nicklas Kronwall (Detroit Red Wings) who is a smooth-skating defenseman who tallied 45 assists last year for the Wings. Tobias Enstrom (Atlanta Thrashers) is another diminutive Swede who skates well, play his position very well, and has a nice play-making touch. Offensively the Sedin twins (Vancouver Canucks) will be the focal point of the offense with Peter Forsberg (Modo) and Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators) aging. Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals) is a world-class play maker who could very well find himself centering Alfredsson come February. Henrik Zetterburg (Detroit Red Wings) is another sniper who can change a game by himself, perhaps being the best pure scorer on the roster. The Swedes have an uphill climb to defend their gold, however, with other nations simply boasting more depth and talent.

PREDICTION: 5th

PREDICTIONS RECAP:
Gold medal: Canada
Silver medal: Russia
Bronze medal: Finlan
4th place: United States
5th place: Sweden
6th place: Czech Republc
7th place: Switzerland
8th place: Slovakia
9th place: Belarus
10th place: Latvia
11th place: Germany
12th place: Norway

Group A Preview
Group B Preview

That's all for our Olympic preview. The Olympics will be a fantastic tournament with a lot of open ice for the top players in the world to showcase their creativity.

I may chime in with quick hits later today. The AHL All-Star game is in Portland, Maine, tonight, so we'll undoubtedly be dicussing that and some of the best up-and-coming talent in the world.

2 comments:

  1. mike sucks, matt sucks.

    what you think about that?

    ReplyDelete

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