John Carlson - Team USA
Will win because of... Goaltending, speed - It is no secret that the United States has the best goaltending in Sochi. Led by Ryan Miller and Johnathan Quick, they really can't go wrong with who they choose, as both are among the top in their craft. Miller led Team USA four years ago in Vancouver to a final thriller, only to fall in overtime, and has been excellent this NHL season with a bad Buffalo Sabres team. Quick pretty much carried his LA Kings to their Stanley Cup win just two seasons ago, and is more than capable of doing so again. Team USA is also loaded with speed, as General Manager David Poile chose young, quick players to play on the big international ice.
Won't win because of….young, inexperienced defense, tough grouping - Team USA has five defensemen born in 1989 or later. And while all of these guys do have international experience at the World Junior level, they will be going up against the best players in the world each game. All are capable of doing just well, as all five play pretty big roles on their team, but it will be interesting to see how these young guys play in their countries colors. The grouping is tough with Russia, Slovenia and Slovakia. And while all teams qualify for the elimination rounds, the seeding could be rough on the United States. If they finish towards the bottom, it is entirely possible for the United States to draw an early Canada, Russia or Sweden drawing.
MVP of Team USA will be…. John Carlson
Alexander Ovechkin - Team Russia
|The most important man in Russia right now|
Won't win because of….immense pressure, suspect defense - This tournament is huge for Mother Russia. You've heard from multiple different sources Russia say that if they only win gold in the Mens Hockey Tournament, it will be a successful Olympics. You've read the Sports Illustrated articles, The Hockey News articles, local area news articles. All of them talk about the immense pressure Ovechkin is under, his country is under. It's insane. But on top of that, Russia's defense is not very good, at all. They have Slava Voynov, Andrei Markov, and everyone else is just average. They will have to rely heavy on their offense, which is more than capable of carrying them to gold in Sochi.
MVP of Team Russia will be…. Alexander Ovechkin
Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson - Team Sweden
|From Erik Karlsson's twitter|
like Niklas Kronwall and Oliver Ekman Larsson, tremendous offensive-minded defensemen like Erik Karlsson, tremendous goaltending in Henrik Lundqvist. They have the best among each position on their team. No question it is their tournament to lose.
Won't win because of….I honestly don't know - I just can't find a weakness in this team. They have great leadership, coaching. I mean, I guess injuries? I don't know.
MVP of Team Sweden will be….Either Nicklas Backstrom or Marcus Johansson, I can't decide.
Martin Erat - Team Czech Republic
Will win because of….experience - This team is ancient. They have Patrick Elias, Jaromir Jagr and Petr Nedved. These guys have done it before, and know exactly what they need to do at any point in time on the ice. They also have a couple of playmakers that aren't yet past their prime, like David Krejci, Ales Hemsky and Michael Frolik. They are all going to have to play their best hockey possible to have a crack at the gold medal.
Won't win because of….too old, meh goaltending - Yeah, I just said that they could win the gold because of their experience, but they could also more than easily lose it because they are just too slow and ultimately too old to be going up against guys that could be fifteen years younger. Their top goalie in Ondrej Pavelec, and I just don't see him carrying the team to a gold medal.
MVP of Team Czech Republic will be….Martin Erat
Enjoy the games!