In a little over two months, the NHL will take a two-week break so many of its players are able to travel to Sochi for the ice hockey competition at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
For some players, winning a gold for their country is just as special as hoisting the Stanley Cup, and since the Olympics occur every four years, these players only have two, three or maybe four chances in their careers to win this prize.
Earlier this week, Bovada released its latest gold medal odds, with Canada and host nation Russia as the co-favorites. The complete odds are listed below:
Canada – 11/5
Russia – 11/5
Sweden – 9/2
USA – 6/1
Czech Republic – 9/1
Finland – 12/1
Switzerland – 25/1
Slovakia – 33/1
Norway – 200/1
Latvia – 400/1
Austria – 900/1
Slovenia – 900/1
With five or six teams having a legitimate chance of winning gold, the Sochi Games should provide fans with some of the most competitive Olympic hockey in a long time.
It’s no surprise to see Canada as one of the co-favorites given its incredible talent and depth up and down the roster, but the lack of an elite goaltender and recent failures outside of North America are two genuine concerns. Russia’s status as a co-favorite is a little surprising when you consider its lack of a clear-cut No. 1 goalie, a weak blue line and the pressure of winning the gold medal in front of its home fans. One team that’s been underestimated in recent months is Finland, who have 12-1 odds to take home the gold. Much like the NHL playoffs, goaltending is often the deciding factor in which nations reach the medal round. No team has a better stable of goaltenders than Finland, with Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne and Antti Niemi all capable of carrying their squad to the gold medal game. The United States should also be among the top contenders in Sochi. The Americans have great goaltending depth, plenty of experience and a mobile, highly skilled group of two-way defensemen that will be led by Ryan Suter.
The final Olympic rosters are expected to be announced around New Year’s Day.
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