2014 Sochi Olympic Hockey Preview

Who will win the Gold for hockey in 

Clay Sohngen

Who will win the Gold for hockey in Sochi?

Starting in just a few short weeks, Olympic hockey action will be returning in Sochi. The stages and pools have been set for 2014, with many new faces in new places for most of these teams. Also, there were many surprising cuts made, whether it be superstars from the NHL, or even the coaches.

Pool A includes the USA, Russia, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Pool B includes Canada, Finland, Norway, and Austria. Lastly, Pool C includes Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Latvia.

There are four teams here that really stick out for these Olympic games: Canada, USA, Russia, and Sweden.

SWEDEN: As of right now, the Swedes are heavily favored to win gold. This prediction is not far off by any means, considering they do have a very solid, all around team. Starting in net they have Henrik Lundqvist, the main netminder of the New York Rangers, with Jhonas Enroth and Jonas Gustavsson as his backup. Defensively, the swedes have a few NHL All-Stars in Alex Edler, Niklas Kronwall, and Erik Karlsson, and some other notables such as Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Johnny Oduya, and Jonathan Ericsson. Offensively, the Swedes are completely stacked. With the Sedin twins already a dominant one-two punch in the NHL, the chemistry will carry over into the Olympic games. With Veterans such as Daniel Alfredsson, Loui Ericsson, Johan Franzen, and Nicklas Backstrom, leadership will not be a problem for Team Sweden, and its young superstars Carl Hagelin, Alexander Steen, and Gabriel Landeskog.

CANADA: Canada honestly could’ve had two teams and still competed in Sochi. This team is absolutely stacked. In goal they have young phenoms in Mike Smith and Carey Price, and also Roberto Luongo. On Defense, Jay Bouwmeester and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are welcomed to the team. P.K. Subban, the hard-hitting Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, Duncan Kieth, and Drew Doughty all are notable names on Canada’s defensive lines. Offensively is where this team steals the show. With John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Sharp, and Sidney Crosby, you have all top 25 NHL scoring leaders. Jamie Benn, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, and Corry Perry are also very notable names on the team that are forwards. Canada let some players go such as Giroux and Iginla, but still look to make some noise in Sochi and go for gold.

USA: The boys in blue are fielding a very young team this year. However, that does not mean they aren’t solid and can’t compete. Starting in goal, Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Quick, and Ryan Miller will all be looking for the starting position, but Quick seems to stand out the most of these three with his stellar performances night in and night out for the L.A. Kings in the NHL. On defense, new additions such as John Carlson, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler, Paul Martin, and Kevin Shattenkirk look to perform well in their first Olympic games, and are all the young individuals on defense. Veterans Brooks Orpik, Ryan Suter, and Ryan Mcdonagh are all returning, and look for redemption from 2010. Offensively is where the United States will have to thrive to compete. David Backes, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel,  Zach Parise, and Joe Pavelski, to name a few, are who will really be affecting this team offensively and they will be running the show. USA has potential to cause a riot in Sochi, but can also fall apart easily without good coaching and team chemistry.

RUSSIA: Russia will always be a competitor in the Olympic games with names such as Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, and Evgeni Malkin, three of the NHL’s elite players. Russia will struggle in Goal. Sergei Bobrovsky is the starter, and just hasn’t been able to put on consistent performances in the NHL, with Semyon Varlamov and Alexander Yeryomenko rounding out the netminders. Defensively, Russia also looks mediocre. Andrei Markov, Fedor Tyutin, and Slava Voynov are really the only notable names defending the net. Russia’s offensive lines will be the true key to success for them. With names such as Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, and rookie sensation Vladimir Tarasenko, the Russian’s honestly may have the best team offensively in the whole game.

These four teams are always at the top of the Olympic games for hockey, and all look eager and ready to compete to fight for the gold. The Swedes have the upper hand, and Canada has the stacked team all-around with no much chemistry, but team USA is looking to build off of the underdog ranking and go for the gold.