Hard to believe how fast the time has flown by. It is less than a week before the puck drops on the biggest event of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics: the men’s ice hockey tournament. Never has the hype been so high for Olympic hockey, with the world’s greatest hockey players descending en masse into the world’s hungriest hockey market: Canada.
For two weeks hockey fans worldwide will be treated to what may be the greatest hockey tournament ever played. NHL stars from Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and a half dozen other countries will set aside their NHL club team bonds as they face off with national pride and a gold medal on the line.
Long gone are the days when a best on best tournament like this will be would be a showdown between Canada and Russia. There is incredible parity in international hockey today, and that parity makes this tournament even more exciting for fans. Picking a winner in a tournament like this with single game elimination is all but impossible. A bad bounce, a hot goaltender, or a couple of key injuries can be the difference between a gold medal and going home empty-handed. Still, I figured it would be a fun exercise to try and pick the favorites to win the medals this year. Here are my power rankings for the top teams involved in the 2010 Winter Olympics men’s ice hockey event:
1 – Team Canada
Yes, I am Canadian, and I guess I could be accused of showing my bias here, but I’ve done by best to make my picks as objectively as possible. I’m sure I’ll hear some disagreement on this issue, but that is the nature of these sorts of posts, so feel free to fire away at me in comments.
Before I even get into comparing the various aspects of the team itself I first have to bring up the giant ace in Canada’s pocket: home ice advantage. With this year’s Olympics taking place in the hockey-mad city of Vancouver, Team Canada will have the support of the crowd to buoy them in crucial moments. Some might argue that playing at home will put an incredible amount of pressure upon the Canadian athletes. There are huge expectations on this team to capture gold, and anything less will be seen as a complete failure. However, the athletes Steve Yzerman selected for this team were picked because of their ability to thrive under pressure, not crumble beneath its weight. Martin Brodeur, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla and captain Scott Niedermayer elevate their respective games when the pressure is greatest. These veteran leaders will have a calming influence on the younger players, and teach them how to channel that pressure into positive results on the ice. The crowd, the atmosphere and the city give Team Canada the ultimate home ice advantage that will be hard for the other teams in this tournament to overcome.
Goaltending – The biggest reason I’ve got Canada ranked at #1 in this tournament is due to their depth in goal. Martin Brodeur is all but assured to be Canada’s starting goaltender throughout the tournament, providing he maintains the stellar level of play he’s shown through his entire career. Brodeur is the NHL’s all time leader in both wins and shutouts, and has 4 Vezina Trophies on his mantle as the league’s best goaltender. More importantly he has 3 Stanley Cup rings on his fingers. He has been through the wars before and shown a coolness under pressure that will be invaluable in a short, competitive tournament like this one.
If Brodeur happens to drop the ball, and that is a BIG if, then Roberto Luongo is next in line to help deliver gold to Canada. For the past few years Luongo has been challenging Brodeur as not only the top Canadian goaltender, but the best goalie in the world period. Luongo’s size, positioning and incredible athleticism make him a nightmare for opposing shooters, and it will be a challenge for them to find any twine to aim for. Luongo has the added motivation of playing in front of his home fans, and he’ll have thousands of passionate Vancouver Canucks fans cheering him on should he get the chance to carry the load for Canada.
Canada’s third string goalie likely won’t see a single game of action. This is a tribute to Canada’s incredible depth in goal, as that third-stringer – Marc-Andre Fleury – is one of the game’s best young goalies and has a Stanley Cup championship ring of his own after back-stopping his Pittsburgh Penguins to a thrilling 7 game series win over the powerful Detroit Red Wings last spring.
Defense – Not only does Team Canada have the best depth at the goaltending position, they also have the best defensive core as well. Canada’s 7 defensemen have a fantastic blend of skill, speed, creativity and experience. Captain Scott Niedermayer anchors the D. Niedermayer has won just about everything it is possible to win in the game of hockey including the Memorial Cup, World Junior Championship gold, World Championship gold, the World Cup, Olympic gold, and the Stanley Cup (He has four of them). However, Niedermayer is far from alone on the back end. His former playing partner in Anaheim, Chris Pronger, will be a towering, menacing presence with plenty of his own experience to draw upon.
However, don’t expect to see a bunch of grizzled veterans take to the ice come February 16th when Team Canada plays their first game against Norway. Steve Yzerman’s selections show that Canada didn’t want to make the same mistakes that cost them so dearly at the last Winter Olympics in Turin. The bulk of Canada’s defensive core are fast and mobile with quick sticks. Offensive specialist Dan Boyle and young stars Shea Weber, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will ensure Canada’s defense won’t get caught flat-footed by opposing teams’ speedy forwards this time around.
Offense – When players like Vincent Lecavalier, Jeff Carter and Martin St. Louis can’t crack Team Canada’s 13 man forward roster then you know the team has got some serious depth offensively.
Sidney Crosby, who was erroneously (in my opinion) left off Team Canada’s 2006 Olympic roster in Turin leads the way for Team Canada, and he will be called upon to match stars like Alexander Ovechkin, Zach Parise and Henrik Sedin as the tournament progresses. Crosby was absolutely clutch in last year’s NHL playoffs, scoring 15 goals and adding 16 assists to lead his Pens to the Stanley Cup. He’ll need to come up with a similar performance for Canada in Vancouver.
If Sid the Kid stumbles it doesn’t necessarily means curtains for Canada. Jarome Iginla was a hero at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and can always be counted upon to score clutch goals in big games. Rick Nash and Dany Heatley have been all but unstoppable at World Championships in years past and there is little reason to doubt they will continue to shine on this, the biggest of all international hockey stages. Patrick Marleau, with 38 goals, trails only Alex Ovechkin and Crosby for the NHL lead in that category, and Marleau’s San Jose teammate Joe Thornton leads the NHL in assists.
As you can see Canada has plenty of players who can put the puck in the opposition’s net, but they also have a few that are pretty adept at keeping it out of their net as well.
When Steve Yzerman built the team he wanted to make it clear he was building a team, not just putting together a collection of the most talented Canadian superstars. To complement offensive players like Crosby, Thornton, Nash and Heatley he’s added multi-dimensional players like Mike Richards, Brenden Morrow and Patrice Bergeron – guys that can win key face-offs, kill penalties, and shut down stars like Ovechkin, Sedin, Gaborik, and Kane. This balance of skill and grit will give coach Mike Babcock the luxury of being able to put the right man on the ice for any situation.
It is hard to find a weak spot in Canada’s roster from top to bottom. From their 3rd string goaltender to their 13th they are solid throughout. Yes, they can be beaten, and anything can happen in a single game elimination tournament, but if they do lose, it will be an upset, make no mistake.
#2 – Team Russia
It seems only appropriate given their age-old rivalry that Canada and Russia would appear in the top two spots in this list. On paper it looks as though these two bitter international hockey rivals should be taking the ice against one another when the Olympic gold medal game is played on February 28th. Of course, the other teams on this list are going to have a thing or two to say about that.
Offense – No team is offensively dynamic as the Russians. With a line-up that features two time Hart Trophy winner, and the current league leading scorer Alexander Ovechkin, defending Art Ross and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin, and recent New Jersey Devils acquistion, super-sniper Ilya Kovalchuk the Russians have a ridiculous amount of firepower. The aforementioned trio by themselves are going to be a handful to contain, but when you consider stars Alexander Semin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Radulov and Sergei Fedorov are also backing them up you can well imagine the conundrum any opposing coach is going to have finding a way to shut down this highly talented team.
Ovechkin is obviously the biggest threat, and the Great 8 is peaking at just the right time leading up to the Olympics. Ovie has been scoring points in buckets lately, zooming past Henrik Sedin to take the lead in the scoring race. He also has a healthy lead in the Rocket Richard race as the league’s leading goal scorer, a position he has become quite familiar with over the past few seasons. Containing him is only part of the equation, but it would be a good start if you want to hold the Russians to a reasonable goal total.
Opposing teams who focus too exclusively on Ovechkin might find themselves burned by Russia’s other big sharpshooter: Ilya Kovalchuk. There are some who believe that Kovalchuk is an event bigger talent than Ovechkin and only the fact that he has had less to work with in Atlanta has kept his numbers from equaling or even surpassing his countryman’s.
Goaltending – Ever since the retirement of legendary Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak the Russians Achilles heel has been at the goaltending position. This year, however, the Russians have a goaltending trio that matches up well with other teams in the tournament.
Ilya Bryzgalov has really come into his own this season with the Phoenix Coyotes. After spending the first few seasons of his career in a back-up role for the Anaheim Ducks Bryzgalov got a chance at a number one job with the formerly hapless Coyotes. He has shone brightly in the desert, particularly this season, and is a huge reason why the Coyotes currently sit comfortably in a playoff spot when all the prognosticators had predicted a last place finish for the team.
As good as Bryzgalov has been I suspect that Evgeni Nabokov will likely get the call as the Russians’ #1 tender. Nabokov has been a major reason why the San Jose Sharks have been a perennial powerhouse over the past half decade. However, if he does land the #1 job he will be on a short leash. He has rarely been clutch in the playoffs over his otherwise sparkling career, and if he is showing signs of cracking under the pressure he will be yanked in favor of Bryzgalov.
Semyon Varlamov will likely find himself sitting third in the depth chart, much like Fleury on Team Canada. The young, but promising Washington Capitals’ goalie has only recently returned from an injury that he suffered early in December. However, even though he almost certainly won’t play the experience he will gain being around the team will be invaluable. There is a good chance that Varlamov will be the goalie of the future for the Russian national team, and they want to groom him for the time when he will assume that mantle.
Defense – The biggest question mark for the Russian team, and the reason why I’ve rated them number 2 in these power rankings, is their defense. They have a pair of bona fide NHL stars in Andrei Markov and Sergei Gonchar, but beyond that the talent level drops sharply. Anton Volchenkov of the Ottawa Senators is one of the best shot blockers in the league, and his willingness to throw his body in the way of frozen, vulcanized rubber will certainly be a key, especially on the penalty kill. Denis Grebeshkov and Fedor Tyutin are the only other d-men currently playing in the NHL, with three others (Dmitri Kalinin, Ilya Nikulin and Konstantin Korneyev) currently playing in the KHL.
There is little question that this team plans to play an offensive game first and foremost and try to outscore their opponents using a run and gun style. Whether or not they can be successful with this tactic remains to be seen, but you can bet every one of their games will be highly entertaining.
#3 – Team Sweden
I’m sure Team USA fans are throwing up their hands in exasperation right about now, wondering when their squad is going to get their due. The U.S. has a great team, but for my money the defending Olympic champs are just a little bit better and thus squeeze into the bronze medal spot.
Sweden might not be as loaded with stars as Canada or Russia (though they do have their fair share), but they, like the Finns and the Czechs, always seem to be capable of finding instant team chemistry at these short international tournaments, and if they can do so again that, more than any other factor, gives them a legitimate shot at repeating as Olympic gold medalists.
Goaltending – In net there is absolutely no mystery who will get the starting job for the Swedes. Henrik Lundqvist might not be having the greatest season with the New York Rangers, but he is by far the most talented Swedish goaltender playing today and their success or failure will be determined in large part by the way he plays. When Lundqvist is hot he can hold his own against Brodeur, Luongo, Kiprusoff or Miller. Much like Dominik Hasek in his day, Lundqvist is very nearly impossible to beat in the lower part of the net, but if players can manage to roof the puck on him in tight then he becomes more fallible.
His back-up will be Jonas Gustavsson – AKA The Monster – who was considered the best goaltender outside of the NHL before he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs and though he has enjoyed a decent rookie campaign thus far he certainly isn’t ready to shoulder the load for an Olympic gold medal run. If an injury or poor play by Lundqvist make it necessary for him to do so then the Swedes can pretty much kiss their hopes of repeating goodbye.
Defense – Much like Team Canada, and unlike Russia, Sweden isn’t clearly dominant at one position over another. Despite their lack of depth at the goaltending position they are solid from top to bottom. Their defensive core will be led by captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who has 4 Stanley Cups and 6 Norris Trophies to his name. In 2008 Lidstrom became the first European-born player to captain a team to a Stanley Cup championship, and though he is getting a little long in the tooth at age 39 you can bet he will still be matched up against the top offensive players in the tournament on a nightly basis.
Lidstrom’s compatriots on defense include Mattias Ohlund, Red Wings teammate Niklas Kronvall, Tobias Enstrom and Henrik Tallinder. All solid players this core will have to elevate their game to be able to compete with opposing superstars. At the time of this writing Niklas Kronvall is still day to day with a knee injury. If he still cannot go by the time the Olympics start it will be a huge blow to the team as he is the team’s most physically dominant defenseman.
Offense – Though lacking the flash and dash of Canada and Russia’s vaunted offenses the Swedish team’s group of forwards are going to be a quietly dangerous group that as a unit will be hard to stop. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have truly come into their own this year and have broken out of the mold of point-a-game players to become two of the league’s most offensive explosive players. If they can continue the hot play they’ve shown since the beginning of December Sweden should have no problem staying in games even if Lundqvist isn’t at his best.
Players providing offense help for the Sedins include Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Backstrom and Peter Forsberg, who could potentially have a huge impact if he can avoid the injury bug. Detroit’s Johan Franzen recently returned from injury and has developed a reputation as a big game, clutch player. These players will be relied upon to provide the bulk of Sweden’s scoring, but if players like Loui Eriksson, Patric Hornqvist and Fredrik Modin can step up and provide some goal-scoring depth then Sweden will be in good shape to do some damage.
#4 – Team USA
If NHL players participate in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games then you can rest assured that Team USA will be ranked as a heavy gold medal favorite. Perhaps no other country has such an embarrassment of talented young stars as the U.S. currently enjoys, and given four more years to gain experience they are going to be a force to be reckoned with much like they were in the mid-90s when players like Modano, Hull, Weight, Tkachuck and Guerin were all at the top of their game.
Goaltending – Though I haven’t picked the U.S. to medal this time around it certainly wouldn’t be a huge upset if they managed to prove me wrong, particularly considering their strength in goal.
Ryan Miller is a no-brainer to be the starting goaltender for Team USA, and should carry the load throughout the tournament. Miller has been absolutely spectacular this season for the Buffalo Sabres, and if the votes were cast today there is little doubt in my mind that Miller would carry home the Vezina as the NHL’s top goalie. It is hard to find a single weakness in Miller’s game. Though certainly not bulky, Miller is long and lanky and covers a lot of real estate between the pipes. He is incredibly quick and is particularly stingy in the lower half of the net. His phenomenal play this season has a lot of opposing coaches nervous going into this tournament. Much like former fellow Buffalo Sabres’ goalie Dominik Hasek did for the Czech Republic in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Miller could single-handedly steal games and knock out giants like Canada and Russia.
If Miller isn’t up to the task then Team USA has the luxury of throwing last year’s Vezina Trophy winner between the pipes. Though his current season isn’t going as well as his last one did, Tim Thomas is still one of the game’s most talented goaltenders. His unorthodox style confounds opposing shooters and with a never-say-die attitude he is known for sprawling across to take away what look to be sure goals.
Jonathan Quick is the third stringer on this team, and like his fellow back-ups to the back-ups, barring injury he is unlikely to see any game action. At 24 years of age Quick is still young for his position, and improving rapidly. You can bet in 4 years time he will be challenging Miller for the Team USA starting job at the 2014 Olympics.
Defense – Much like the Russians probably the weakest link of Team USA is their defense. That’s not to say they have a poor defense – far from it – but they certainly don’t boast the all-stars and Norris Trophy candidates that some of the other teams can. They also don’t have a single obvious leader on the back end, and it looks like this defense will be very much “by committee”. Brian Rafalski is the oldest at age 36, and is also probably the most offensively talented. He will be called upon to quarterback the powerplay, and his experience as a member of both the New Jersey Devils and the Detroit Red Wings will be certainly help him calm some of the younger players on the roster down.
Brooks Orpik will likely join Rafalski in the top pair. Orpik has been to two consecutive Stanley Cup finals with the Pittsburgh Penguins and plays a physical style of play that will compliment Rafalski’s finesse game perfectly.
Rounding out the team USA defense are Ryan Suter, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Ryan Whitney and Tim Gleason. Whitney and Gleason weren’t initially named to the team, but were call-ups when both Mike Komisarek and Paul Martin went down with injury.
Again, in four years players like Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson and Ryan Suter will all be in the primes of their career, but right now this core will have a hard time shutting down elite players like Ovechkin, Crosby, and the Sedin Twins.
Offense – Only three forwards on the Team USA roster are over the age of 25 and while that probably spells trouble for this year’s tournament, U.S. fans have plenty of reason to be optimistic for the future. Veterans Chris Drury, Jamie Langenbrunner and Ryan Malone will provide leadership for a group of budding superstars that may be too young to realize they aren’t supposed to be a force at this year’s Olympics.
That group young snipers are led by the trio of Patrick Kane, Phil Kessel and Zach Parise. At 21, 22, and 25 respectively they have already proven they are among the most dangerous offensive players in the league, and will be the cornerstone of Team USA’s offensive attack. Paul Stastny, Bobby Ryan and Joe Pavelski are no slouches either, and should provide plenty of secondary scoring to help out the “Big Three”.
Team USA’s general manager Brian Burke is a big fan of building a forward unit composed of 2 skilled lines and 2 grind lines. In this case even his grinders are a threat to put the puck in the net. Langenbrunner, Drury, Malone, Ryan Kesler, Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan should provide their share of offense even while performing shutdown duties against the other teams’ top forwards.
If the offense can catch fire, and Miller plays at the very top of his game then the U.S. might just be able to catch the other superpowers napping.
#5 – Team Czech Republic
A decade ago the Czech Republic was the toast of the hockey world. Backed by the inhuman goaltending of Dominik Hasek, and led up front by superstar Jaromir Jagr they were the defending Olympic champions and a threat to win a gold at every international event they participated in.
Fast forward to today and the picture isn’t quite as rosy. Hasek, at age 43, actually attempted to come back and play in this year’s Olympics, however injury eventually forced him to abandon his comeback. Former Czech golden boy, Jaromir Jagr will be back, but he hasn’t played an NHL game in nearly two years (though he has been playing in the KHL) and on February 15th will celebrate his 38th birthday. Have Jagr and Hasek passed on the torch to a new generation of Czech stars, or will Czech fans have to wait through a long rebuilding process before their nation finally becomes a hockey superpower again?
Goaltending – When Dominik Hasek attempted his comeback it was a comment on just how little depth the Czech national team had at the goaltending position. However, ask Tomas Vokoun and he’d tell you they were just fine, thank you very much. Vokoun has been stellar this season, posting an impressive 7 shutouts, a 2.35 GAA and a .930 save percentage in helping his Florida Panthers stay in the mix for the hotly contested 8th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. If he can carry that play into the Olympic tournament then his team has a dark horse chance of stealing a medal.
Perhaps in no other case does the fate of a team rest so squarely on the shoulders of its number one goaltender. If Vokoun goes down with injury or fails to perform to expectations then Team Czech Republic is done. Back-up Ondrej Pavelec has been average in his first full year in the NHL as his 3.45 GAA and .900 save percentage would attest to. At just 22 years of age he is sure to get better, but he is hardly ready to lead this team to Olympic gold.
Defense – The story isn’t significantly better at the defensive position. Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina and Marek Zidlicky will have to play huge minutes every night, and will likely be too worn down as the tournament drags on to be a factor in the medal round. Jan Hejda, Filip Kuba, Zbynek Michalek and Roman Polak are all steady NHL defensemen, but none would come within a country mile of nabbing the 7th defenseman spot on Team Canada.
Offense – Again, there isn’t a whole lot here for Czech fans to be optimistic about. Yes, Jaromir Jagr is back, but he is far from the player that helped the Czechs win gold in 1998. Martin Havlat is arguably the most talented player on the roster, but he has only limited offensive help in the form of Patrick Elias, Tomas Plekanec and David Krejci.
Granted, nearly half of the forwards on the Czech team play in European leagues and are thus an unknown quantity, however, one has to think that, with the exception of Jagr, if they were good enough to play in the NHL then they would be.
As you can see, I am pretty lukewarm on the Czechs’ chances. So why did I rank them at #5, ahead of teams like Finland and Slovakia. For one, I believe Tomas Vokoun is in peak form. In a short tournament like this good goaltending is of paramount importance. Vokoun makes the Czechs a threat to win every night.
Secondly, and more importantly, is the uncanny team chemistry that Czech teams always seem to have. Much like Sweden they seem to be able to take players playing in a variety of leagues, playing under completely different systems, and with a wide range of skill and get them to work together as a well-oiled machine within a few days. If they can find that chemistry once again they will definitely give the teams listed above some headaches along the way.
#6 – Team Finland
When it comes to passion for hockey, Canada and Russia are the two nations that immediately leap to mind. However, natives of this small Scandinavian country will argue that their population is every bit as hockey-mad as Canada or Russia, and over the years they’ve been a constant thorn in the side of the other major hockey powers in international competition. But do they have what it takes to medal this year at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver?
Goaltending – Basically, any hopes Finnish fans have of seeing their team bring home a medal this time around rest solely on the men they’ve got between the pipes. Traditionally, the Finns have played a defensive trapping style and rely on the stellar play of their goalies and the mistakes of their opposition to eke out one goal wins. Looking at their roster this time around it is hard to believe we won’t see similar tactics, and with the men they’ve chosen to tend the cage those tactics may just pay off.
Miikka Kiprusoff made a bold move when he told team brass that the only way he would play for the Olympic team was if they guaranteed him the spot as starting goaltender. Well, they may not have liked the ultimatum, but apparently they liked the idea of going to the Olympics without “Kipper” even less, because he’ll be on the ice when the puck drops for their first game.
Kiprusoff has been the backbone of the Calgary Flames since the midway part of the 2003-04 season when he arrived via trade from the goalie-rich San Jose Sharks. That year he backstopped the Flames to within a whisker’s-breadth of the Stanley Cup before bowing out in game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The NHL lockout the following year disrupted his NHL career, but in 2005-06 he proved he hadn’t missed a beat, posting a miniscule 2.07 GAA and capturing the Vezina Trophy.
This season he looks to have once again captured the magic he had during his early days in Calgary and his 2.20 GAA and his .920 save percentage put him among the league leaders in those categories. If he can demonstrate that same level of play during the Olympics then Finland’s tactical strategy should work rather well.
Should Kipper falter, the Finnish team has another ace up its sleeve in the form of one Niklas Backstrom. The Minnesota Wild goaltender has been one of the most dominant keepers at the position since beginning his NHL career in the 2006/07 season, and though his numbers aren’t quite up to snuff this year, he is certainly more than capable of stealing a game on any given night.
Defense – Like every other European team in the tournament there is a question mark on the Finns’ blueline as well. Kimmo Timonen, Joni Pitkanen, Sami Salo and Toni Lydman are a solid top 4, but beyond that there is little depth, and Finland will have to rely on a lot of backchecking help from the forwards to ease the pressure. Don’t look for much in the way of offensive forays from this group. They will play a very safe, defense-first game to give opposing forwards limited opportunities to expose that lack of depth.
Offense – Beyond Kiprusoff in goal this is very much a team without superstars, and that trend is quite evident as you look down their list of forwards. Teemu Selanne has seen too many winters to have much “flash” to his game any more. The Koivu brothers, Saku and Mikko, will put up points, but you won’t catch either of them beating Chris Pronger or Nicklas Lidstrom one on one. Overall this forward core isn’t going to score a whole lot of goals, and the ones they get will be spread around. They have to rely on their system to get them leads, and their goaltender to protect them, as they don’t have a gamebreaker to get them back into the game if they surrender an early lead.
Overall the Finns will probably be a pretty boring team to watch. However, boring doesn’t equal untalented, and they’ve made a habit of pulling upsets against powerful hockey nations in the past. They are a longshot to win a medal, but you can bet they will probably manage to pull an upset nobody saw coming somewhere along the way.
I’m not going to bother ranking the remaining teams as I don’t believe any of them has a snowflake’s chance on Cypress of actually winning a medal. Even Team Slovakia, which boasts such NHL stars as Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara simply does not have the depth throughout its roster to compete with the other six teams I’ve listed above.
There you have it, my 2010 Olympic Men’s Hockey Power Rankings. It will be interesting to look back after the closing ceremonies and see how wrong I was.
Who do you think will win the Olympic gold medal? Don’t forget to vote in our poll (right hand sidebar). One thing is guaranteed, as fans we’ll get to enjoy some of the best hockey ever played. I can’t wait to watch it.