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The Big Seven

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman
Bolshoi Ice Dome

With just over two weeks until the 2014 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, here is a look at “the big seven” men’s Ice Hockey tournament. The NHL has released players making this an elite ice hockey competition. The tournament runs from February 12th – 23rd. 12 countries are competing for the glory of gold. Check out my predictions and review of the team rosters.

 
GROUP A: U.S.A., RUSSIA, SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA
GROUP B CANADA, FINLAND, NORWAY, AUSTRIA
GROUP C SWEDEN, CZECH REPUBLIC, SWITZERLAND, LATVIA
 
GROUP A
TEAM U.S.A.
#6 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Coaches: Dan Bylsma, Peter Laviolette, Todd Richards, Tony Granato
Strengths: Team U.S.A. were the first roster to be officially named in the New Year. They have confidently selected a young, tough, fast, durable, aggressive and highly skilled roster. Many skaters have come back from the 2010 U.S.A. team and will want to do one better and win gold… Ryan Miller in particular!
Weakness: The Defense core is not exactly star studded compared to other teams however it is more than capable to compete at the highest level.
Most Notable Omission: Bobby Ryan (Forward)
Prediction: 4th Place
TEAM RUSSIA
#3 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Denis Kokarev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Soin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshenko, Viktor Tikhonov
Defense: Anton Belov, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Evgeny Medvedev, Nikita Nikitin, Ilya Nikulin,Fedor Tyutin, Slava Voynov
Goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Alexander Yeryomenko
Coaches:Zinetula Bilyaletdinov
Strengths: Team Russia has home ice advantage in Sochi. They boast a highly skilled, attacking, resourceful, talented roster. They have huge incentive to do better than 6th in 2010. The nation will be behind them and they have a desire that will be measured by a gold medal at all costs!
Weakness: The pressure will be immense to perform well. They are in the pool of death so a weak start could be fatal going into the medal rounds. Over confidence may also be trouble.
Most Notable Omission: Alexander Semin (Forward)
Prediction: 2nd Place Silver Medal
TEAM SLOVAKIA
#8 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Milan Bartovic, Marian Gaborik,Michal Handzus, Marcel Hossa, Marian Hossa, Tomas Jurco,Tomas Kopecky, Tomas Marcinko, Michel Miklik, Peter Ölvecky,Richard Panik, Tomas Surovy,Tomas Tatar, Tomas Zaborsky
Defense: Ivan Baranka, Dominik Granak, Zdeno Chara, Martin Marincin,Andrej Meszaros,Andrej Sekera, Michal Sersen, Lubomir Visnovsky
Goalies: Peter Budaj, Jaroslav Halak, Jan Laco
Coaches: Vladimír Vůjtek
Strengths: The Slovakian’s can strike through the heroics of the veterans on the roster. They have enough firepower to trouble the top teams and the tower of power leadership from Zdeno Chara.
Weakness: Depth and overall health is a major concern for Slovakia. Two of the top players are injured and have carried injuries placing a lot of pressure for the whole team to over perform.
Most Notable Omission: Miroslav Satan (Forward)
Prediction: 7th Place
TEAM SLOVENIA
#17 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Bostjan Golicic, Ziga Jeglic, Anze Kopitar, Anze Kuralt, Jan Mursak, Ales Music, Ziga Pance, Tomaz Razingar, David Rodman, Marcel Rodman, Robert Sabolic, Rok Ticar, Jan Urbas, Miha Verlic
Defense: Blaz Gregorc, Sabahudin Kovacevic, Ales Kranjc, Ziga Pavlin, Klemen Pretnar, Mitja Robar, Matic Podlipnik, Andrej Tavzelj
Goalies: Luka Gracnar, Andrej Hocevar, Robert Kristan
 
Prediction: 12th Place
 
GROUP B
TEAM CANADA
#5 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Coaches: Mike Babcock, Lindy Ruff, Ken Hitchcock, Claude Julien
 
Strengths: Team Canada has selected a very efficient, powerful and heroic roster. There has been a lot of depth to choose from they have all bases covered in offence and defense. Sidney Crosby leads the NHL and is now with other elite Canadians
 
Weakness: The pressure to repeat as Gold medal winners in the Canadian media. Goaltending will be tested and the weakness is that each of these goaltenders have no cups and have been known to falter in big situations but are still among the top in the game.
Most Notable Omission: Martin St. Louis (Forward)
Prediction: 1st Place Gold Medal
 
TEAM FINLAND
#2 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Juhamatti Aaltonen,Aleksander Barkov,Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Granlund,Jussi Jokinen,Olli Jokinen, Mikko Koivu, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola,Lauri Korpikoski, Jori Lehterä, Antti Pihlström,Tuomo Ruutu, Teemu Selänne
Defense: Lasse Kukkonen, Juuso Hietanen, Sami Lepistö,Olli Maatta,Sami Salo,Kimmo Timonen, Ossi Väänänen,Sami Vatanen
Goalies: Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Tuukka Rask
Coaches: Kari Jalonen
 
Strengths: Team Finland has the best depth at Goaltending. They boast a veteran core mixed with some young up and coming skaters. A ton of experience with a tough resolve. They have guys who really know how to get it done. They will be a team capable of upsetting in the finals.
Weakness: The pressure will be immense to perform well. They are in the pool of death so a weak start could be fatal going into the medal rounds. Over confidence may also be trouble.
Most Notable Omission: Saku Koivu (Forward)
Prediction: 5th Place
 
TEAM NORWAY
#9 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Morten Ask, Anders Bastiansen, Robin Dahlstrom, Kristian Forsberg, Mads Hansen, Marius Holtet, Sondre Olden, Ken Andre Olimb, Mathis Olimb, Mats Rosseli Olsen, Niklas Roest, Martin Roymark, Per-Age Skroder, Patrick Thoresen, Mats Zuccarello
Defense: Alexander Bonsaksen, Jonas Holos, Henrik Solberg, Daniel Sorvik, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, Mats Trygg, Henrik Odegaard
Goalies: Lars Haugen, Lars Volden, Steffen Soberg
 
Prediction: 10th Place
 
TEAM AUSTRIA
#15 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Michael Grabner, Raphael Herburger, Thomas Hundertpfund, Matthias Iberer, Thomas Koch, Andreas Kristler, Manuel Latusa, Brian Lebler, Daniel Oberkofler, Michael Raffl, Thomas Raffl, Oliver Setzinger, Thomas Vanek, Daniel Welser
Defense: Mario Altmann, Florian Iberer, Andre Lakos, Robert Lukas, Thomas Pock, Matthias Trattnig, Stefan Ulmer, Gerhard Unterluggauer
Goalies: Bernhard Starkbaum, Rene Swette, Fabian Weinhandl
 
Prediction: 9th Place
 
GROUP C
 
TEAM SWEDEN
#1 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Backstrom,Patrik Berglund, Jimmie Ericsson, Loui Eriksson,Johan Franzen,Carl Hagelin,Marcus Kruger,Gabriel Landeskog, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin,Jakob Silfverberg, Alexander Steen, Henrik Zetterberg
Goalies: Jhonas Enroth, Jonas Gustavsson, Henrik Lundqvist
Coaches: Par Marts, Rikard Gronborg, Stefan Ladhe, Peter Popovic
Strengths: Team Sweden has the deepest roster and the most balanced attack. There is no immediate weakness as they possess high skill, speed and determination. Henrik Lundqvist is the linchpin and can take them all the way for sure.
Weakness: There is not much toughness in the roster. This normally would not matter but going into the medal rounds it may come down to not just mental toughness but stamina. If Lundqvist does not perform well then the goalies will be tested.
Most Notable Omission: Tobias Enstrom (Defense)
Prediction: 3rd Place Bronze Medal
 
TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC
#4 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Defense:Michal Barinka,Radko Gudas, Tomas Kaberle, Lukas Krajicek,Zbynek Michalek,Ladislav Smid,Marek Zidlicky
Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar
Coaches: Alois Hadamczik
 
Strengths: The Czech’s will present a serious challenge and can upset any of the big seven. Lead by the ageless Jaromir Jagr. They have always proven to be a big menace in previous Olympics. Cannot be under-rated and play with great skill and courage.
Weakness: Goaltending is a problem and will be the tale of their medal hopes. They are not strong in any one department but have enough skill in each to get the job done but rely on stellar play from the entire roster.
Most Notable Omission: Jiri Hudler (Forward)
Prediction: 6th Place
 
TEAM SWITZERLAND
#7 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Andres Ambühl, Matthias Bieber, Simon Bodenmann, Damien Brunner, Luca Cunti, Ryan Gardner, Denis Hollenstein, Simon Moser, Nino Niederreiter, Martin Plüss, Kevin Romy, Reto Suri, Morris Trachsler, Roman Wick
Defense: Severin Blindenbacher, Rafael Diaz, Philippe Furrer, Roman Josi, Mathias Seger, Mark Streit, Julien Vauclair, Yannick Weber
Goalies: Reto Berra, Jonas Hiller, Tobias Stephan
 
Prediction: 8th Place
TEAM LATVIA
#11 Men’s IIHF World Ranking
Forwards: Armands Berzins, Martins Cipulis, Lauris Darzins, Kaspars Daugavins, Zemgus Girgensons, Miks Indrasis, Koba Jass, Martins Karsums, Ronalds Kenins, Vitalijs Pavlovs, Mikelis Redlihs, Janis Sprukts, Juris Stals, Herberts Vasiljevs
Defense: Oskars Bartulis, Ralfs Freibergs, Arturs Kulda, Sandis Ozolinsh, Georgijs Pujacs, Krisjanis Redlihs, Arvids Rekis, Kristaps Sotnieks
Goalies: Kristers Gudlevskis, Edgars Masalskis, Ervins Mustukovs
 
Prediction: 11th Place

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