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Winter Olympics Mens Ice Hockey Competition Analysis

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Contributor:
Scott Newman
Scott Newman

The 21st Winter Olympics are about to start in Vancouver, British Columbia CANADA. (Will Wayne Gretzky light the Olympic Cauldron?) I am taking a close look at the Men's Ice Hockey competition as it will be a very close match in what could be the greatest Ice Hockey tournament on earth. With Sidney Crosby & Alexander Ovechkin playing excellent hockey in the NHL this promises to be a HUGE Matchup. Here is a look at the teams & how I think they match up!

Team CANADA (IIHF Ranking #2)

Goalies

30 Martin Brodeur

29 Marc-André Fleury

1 Roberto Luongo

Defense

22 Dan Boyle

8 Drew Doughty

2 Duncan Keith

27 Scott Niedermayer (Captain)

20 Chris Pronger

7 Brent Seabrook

6 Shea Weber

Forwards

37 Patrice Bergeron

87 Sidney Crosby

51 Ryan Getzlaf (Injured?)

15 Dany Heatley

12 Jarome Iginla

11 Patrick Marleau

10 Brenden Morrow

61 Rick Nash

24 Corey Perry

18 Mike Richards

21 Eric Staal

19 Joe Thornton

16 Jonathan Toews

CANADA Key Players : Brodeur, Crosby, Iginla, Niedermayer, Pronger, Heatley

Team Canada have home Ice. They have the best depth of the tournament & the whole country behind the team. There is a lot of pressure on these guys and will only expect a GOLD medal otherwise anything else is a failure. They have a great team that does not have any immediate weakness. The Goaltending is the best in the world. The Defensemen are quick and have a two way flair. All of the forwards in team CANADA are either Captains or heroes for their respective teams in the NHL. I think if they play with balance and confidence. They will be on the Podium. I rank them the Top team of the tourney. Steve Yzerman declared Team RUSSIA the favourite. I hope that the hockey crazed nation (Home of Hockey) come through and claim the GOLD!

Team RUSSIA (IIHF Ranking #1)

Goalies

30 Ilya Bryzgalov

20 Evgeni Nabokov

40 Semyon Varlamov

Defense

55 Sergei Gonchar

37 Denis Grebeshkov

7 Dmitri Kalinin

22 Konstantin Korneyev

79 Andrei Markov

5 Ilya Nikulin

51 Fedor Tyutin

6 Anton Volchenkov

Forwards

61 Maxim Afinogenov

13 Pavel Datsyuk

29 Sergei Fedorov

71 Ilya Kovalchuk

52 Viktor Kozlov

11 Evgeni Malkin

95 Alexei Morozov (Captain)

8 Alexander Ovechkin

47 Alexander Radulov

32 Alexander Semin

25 Danis Zaripov

42 Sergei Zinoviev

RUSSIA Key Players
: Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Malkin, Gonchar, Nabokov

Team Russia has arguably the best offence of the competition! They want to win so much and any team with Alex (the great) Ovechkin on it can get the job done. This team will be right in the mix of winning it all. They may be the favourites to take it all or on a level playing field with CANADA. They have so much offensive prowess that they will trouble every team with the ability to score at any time. I like the chances of RUSSIA winning Gold or finishing on the podium. They have a lot of depth and experience, the kind of mix that wins competitions. The potential match up against CANADA is a massive attraction to the sport!

Team SWEDEN (IIHF Ranking #3)

Goalies

50 Jonas Gustavsson

1 Stefan Liv

30 Henrik Lundqvist

Defense

39 Tobias Enström

6 Magnus Johansson

55 Niklas Kronwall

5 Nicklas Lidström

3 Douglas Murray

29 Johnny Oduya

2 Mattias Öhlund

Forwards

10 Henrik Tallinder

11 Daniel Alfredsson (Captain)

19 Nicklas Bäckström

91 Loui Eriksson

21 Peter Forsberg

96 Tomas Holmström

27 Patric Hörnqvist

33 Fredrik Modin

26 Samuel Påhlsson

22 Daniel Sedin

20 Henrik Sedin

80 Mattias Weinhandl

40 Henrik Zetterberg

SWEDEN Key Players
: Sedin (Twins), Lundqvist, Alfredsson, Forsberg, Lidstrom, Zetterberg

Team Sweden is perhaps the most consistent performer in the Winter Olympics. They are the defending Gold medallists. There is a very strong case for them to climb the podium again as they show a very experienced roster mixed with top talent from overseas. There will be a lot of hype of the return of Peter Forsberg who could be one of the biggest wildcards of the games. They have enough balance to win it all. (King) Henrik Lundqvist will be a key part of their success. If he plays like he does in the NHL then SWEDEN may go a long way. This side will be big trouble for any contender.

Team USA (IIHF Ranking #5)

Goalies

39 Ryan Miller

29 Jonathan Quick

30 Tim Thomas

Defense

47 Tim Gleason (Replaced 7 Paul Martin)

6 Erik Johnson

3 Jack Johnson

44 Brooks Orpik

28 Brian Rafalski

20 Ryan Suter

19 Ryan Whitney (Replaced 8 Mike Komisarek)

Forwards

42 David Backes

32 Dustin Brown

24 Ryan Callahan

23 Chris Drury

88 Patrick Kane

17 Ryan Kesler

81 Phil Kessel

15 Jamie Langenbrunner (Captain)

12 Ryan Malone

9 Zach Parise

16 Joe Pavelski

54 Bobby Ryan

26 Paul Stastny

USA Key Players
: Miller, Kessel, Rafalski, Kane, Parise, Langenbrunner

Team USA are very close to home and will feel they have a genuine chance. They are not as strong as the above rosters but you can never write-off the Americans. The courage they show is enormous. Some of the players have not been playing to their potential however the experience and BIG game experience is undeniable. Ryan Miller has been standing on his head for the Buffalo Sabres. He could lead the way for the states to contest for a medal. Sometimes it is best to be an underdog. That USA is. They have enough scoring power to give the BIG 3 headaches. The defense for the states will have to play out of their minds to have a real shot. 

Team CZECH REPUBLIC (IIHF Ranking #6)

Goalies

31 Ondrej Pavelec

33 Jakub Stepanek

29 Tomas Vokoun

Defense

44 Miroslav Blatak

35 Jan Hejda

15 Tomas Kaberle

17 Filip Kuba

77 Pavel Kubina

4 Zbynek Michalek

5 Roman Polak

3 Marek Zidlicky

Forwards

16 Petr Cajanek

10 Roman Cervenka

26 Patrik Elias (Captain)

91 Martin Erat

34 Tomas Fleischmann

24 Martin Havlat

68 Jaromir Jagr

46 David Krejci

9 Milan Michalek

14 Tomas Plekanec

60 Tomas Rolinek

63 Josef Vasicek

CZECH REPUBLIC Key Players
: Jagr, Elias, Kaberle, Havlat, Zidlicky, Vokoun

Team Czech Republic will be pleased to have Jaromir Jagr with them. At first glance you would feel that the roster is weaker than previous years with players like Martin Straka, Dominic Hasek or Martin Rucinsky missing. The Czech team punch a strong team with a useful defensive look about them. There is certainly a chance that they may upset one of the big guns as they have done in the past. (like Nagano)  They will need brilliant goaltending to really have a good chance. They remain a dark horse in this tournament. I’m sure they are targeting the medal rounds as much as everyone else. I look forward to seeing their output in the games.

Team FINLAND (IIHF Ranking #4)

Goalies

33 Niklas Bäckström

34 Miikka Kiprusoff

30 Antero Niittymäki

Defense

5 Lasse Kukkonen

18 Sami Lepistö

32 Toni Lydman

21 Janne Niskala

25 Joni Pitkänen

6 Sami Salo

44 Kimmo Timonen

Forwards

51 Valtteri Filppula

10 Niklas Hagman

62 Jarkko Immonen

12 Olli Jokinen

39 Niko Kapanen

9 Mikko Koivu

11 Saku Koivu (Captain)

26 Jere Lehtinen

20 Antti Miettinen

16 Ville Peltonen

37 Jarkko Ruutu

15 Tuomo Ruutu

8 Teemu Selänn

FINLAND Key Players
: Selanne, Koivu (Brothers), Kiprusoff, Timonen, Salo, Jokinen

Team Finland is wanting to send off Teemu Selanne in a big way. There is a veteran mix about this roster where FINLAND will be changing their direction as the changing of the guard occurs with big name players retiring. The Finns are another team that could trouble and upset one of the big teams in a one off game. They aren’t packing the biggest threatening attack in the game but they possess a lot of players who have a lot to prove. This could make for an interesting run for the Finns. (Kippers) Miika Kiprusoff is a good example of a player who has a lot to prove. This is the biggest stage to perform on. I like what I see in the heart and soul of this team. I am interested to see how far they can go. I don’t doubt their passion. They are going to do well but for how long?

Team SLOVAKIA (IIHF Ranking #9)

Goalies

31 Peter Budaj

41 Jaroslav Halak

35 Rastislav Stana

Defense

46 Ivan Baranka (Replaces Richard Lintner)

33 Zdeno Chara (Captain)

68 Milan Jurcina

14 Andrej Meszaros

44 Andrej Sekera

77 Martin Strbak

17 Lubomir Visnovsky

Forwards

23 Lubos Bartecko

8 Martin Cibak

38 Pavol Demitra

10 Marian Gaborik

26 Michal Handzus

91 Marcel Hossa

81 Marian Hossa

82 Tomas Kopecky

24 Zigmund Palffy

92 Branko Radivojevic

18 Miroslav Satan

15 Jozef Stümpel

20 Richard Zednik

SLOVAKIA Key Players :
Chara, Hossa (Brothers) Gaborik, Visnovsky, Palffy, Halak

Team Slovakia is the last team that can really press for the medals. (in my opinion) They have enough potential in their make-up to make a good push. (Ziggy) Palffy returns after retiring from the NHL and the rest of the team sport x-factor about them. Having both Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik together sports a strong offensive punch that the other teams defensive systems will be wary about. I think they could be in for a Cinderella run if they can get through the round robin stage un-scathed. Having a lot of NHL experience helps for this tournament. Big Zdeno Chara will lead his team as far as they can go!

The rest of the teams are:

Team Switzerland (IIHF Ranking #7)

Team Belarus (IIHF Ranking #8)

Team Latvia (IIHF Ranking #10)

Team Norway (IIHF Ranking #11)

Team Germany (IIHF Ranking #12)

Prediction CANADA vs. RUSSIA for the Gold medal match.

www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-hockey/

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