Monday, February 22, 2010

Olympic Men's Hockey Power Rankings - Updated

The Round Robin portion is now complete and it's time to look once again at where the teams stand. Team's previous ranking indicated below with (PR). Team Canada falls and Sweden rises in this installment.

1. Sweden
Sweden are the defending gold medalists and have gotten better as the tournament progresses. Henrik Lundqvist has yet to allow a goal, and a convincing 3-0 victory over the Finns on Sunday night puts them in the top spot.

2. USA
USA pulled off an upset against Team Canada on Sunday afternoon and proved that they are for real. Despite being outshot badly and arguably outplayed for most of the game, they leaned on Ryan Miller who provided the performance of a life time. Nevertheless, the USA have a good group of players and are deserving of more praise than suggesting merely that Ryan Miller is awesome. Will be interesting to see how they perform against other top teams.

3. Russia
Russia looked sloppy against Latvia despite the lopsided victory, lost to Slovakia in a shootout, but looked strong against the Czech Republic. Ovechkin's enormous open ice hit on Jaromir Jagr is the type of spark than can galvanize a team. Look out for a Russia/Canada quarter-final match up on Wednesday.

4. Canada
Team Canada ran into a red-hot Jonas Hiller and a red-hot Ryan Miller. But is there more to say? Yes. Canada has been 'getting by' on talent alone but is drawing criticism for their uninspired play, specifically from veterans like Brodeur, Pronger, and Thornton who are counted on. Despite outplaying the Americans badly, they lost that game. Had they won, they would be the #1 team in these rankings, so one game can't drop them too far. They need a convincing win over Germany.

5. Finland
Finland looked very strong in its first two games, but stumbled against Sweden. Still, the Finns always play a great team game, and have automatically qualified for the quarterfinals based on their strong play. They are they defending silver-medalists and will provide a worthy challenge.

6. Slovakia
Slovakia deserved a better result than a loss to the Czechs, they beat the Russians and pummeled the Latvians. You may recall they also started 5-0 in Torino before losing to the Russians in the Quarterfinals. This team is a nice dark horse.

7. Czech Republic
Czechs look good but not great. They beat the Slovaks but never really challenged the Russians. Czechs are likely not in the class of the Canadians, Russians, and Swedes, but could upset any team in a touranment such as this. Czechs are certainly competitive but likely will not medal.

8. Switzerland
The Swiss have performed admirably, pushing the Canadians to the limit and beating the Norwegians. The Swiss will play Belarus and will likely face the USA in the Quarterfinals.

9. Belarus
The Belarussians did not have a strong showing against the elite teams, but did have a great character building victory over the Germans. As the Belarussians showed in 2002, anything can happen.

10. Germany

The Germans could be described as a disappointment thus far. Usually an automatic world #8 behind the big seven, the Germans have scored only three goals in three games and lost to Belarus. Despite a few NHLers, mostly on defense, their play has been lackluster thus far. That being said, an incredible upset of Canada would erase all of that.

11. Norway
The Norwegians were beaten handily by the USA and Canada but put up a good fight against the Swiss. Norwegian forward Vikingstad's hat-trick against the Swiss is a definite bright spot.

12. Latvia
Losing 8-2 to the Russians, and being throttled by the Czechs and the Slovaks will land you in last place. Of the lower ranked teams entering this competition, they definitely drew the short end of the stick having to face three strong teams, they will try to play spoiler against the Czechs on Tuesday.

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