Thursday, February 18, 2010

Olympic Hockey Power Rankings

Three days into the Men's Olympic Hockey tournament, it's time to rank the nations based on the results thus far. Canada, USA, and Finland are undefeated and have been impressive thus far, while Sweden, Czech Republic and Russia have been somewhat disappointing thus far. Slovakia and Switzerland have been effective underdogs and the rest, well, they have some work to do. Look for some upsets in the coming days!

1. Canada
Canada owned Norway as they should, and deserved a more convincing win over Switzerland. Jonas Hiller kept the Swiss in it. Canada outshot both teams badly and has the best goal differential in the tournament. Still not at their best.

2. USA
USA Hockey looks good. The young guys can play and they have taken care of business versus Switzerland and Norway. Sunday's test against Canada awaits.

3. Finland
Finland was convincing in their victory over Belarus. Tougher competition will determine their true place in these standings. They look good so far.

4. Sweden
Sweden may be finding their legs, but looked uninspired against an upstart German squad. More was expected from the Swedes, as expectations to repeat as gold medalists are high.

5. Slovakia

Slovaks deserved a better fate against the Czech Republic, and playing their second game in two nights came up with a huge victory against the Russians in a shootout. They played the Russians strong and have momentum on their side going in to their remaining round robin game against Latvia.

6. Russia
Russia beat Latvia 8-2 but managed to look sloppy in the process. They also managed only one goal in 60 minutes against a tired Slovakian squad, and Ovechkin and their potent offence managed only one goal on seven shots in the shootout. They definitely haven't found their game yet - but they better do so soon.

7. Czech Republic
Czechs deserve full marks for their victory over Slovakia. There is no substitute to finding ways to win a game, but they definitely will be in tough against Russia on Sunday.

8. Swizterland
The Swiss pushed Canada to the brink, forcing extra shooters in a shootout to find a win. Jonas Hiller has been simply amazing. Look for them to continue to make life difficult for the hockey powers.

9. Germany
Germany played Sweden very tough and should do the same with Finland. Look for them to beat Belarus.

10. Latvia
Despite the 8-2 defeat, the Latvians played Russia strong. They didn't finish their chances and took too many penalties. They didn't quit however and will certainly try to play spoiler.

11. Belarus

Belarus is in tough. Without their two top players in Grabovski and Kostitsyn, they will be hard-pressed to win much, but Sweden - Belarus will remind everyone of 2002 and Tommy Salo's worst nightmare.

12. Norway
Norway has been outscored 14-1 thus far and only mustered 11 shots against the USA. They will hopefully have more success against the Swiss.

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