Will the Canadians be the first repeat Olympic champions since the mighty Soviets/broken Soviets won 3 straight from 1984 - 1992 (would have been 8 straight except for a little Miracle)? Will the Americans win for the first time since 1980? Can the Russians win glory on their home ice like their Canadian counterparts did four years ago? All this and more after the break!
Here are your preliminary round matchups:
12 Norway vs. 5 Russia
11 Latvia vs. 6 Switzerland
10 Slovakia vs. 7 Czech Republic
9 Austria vs. 8 Slovenia
Russia wins in a cakewalk over Norway, let's say 6-0
Switzerland defeats Latvia 2-1 in a shootout
Slovakia upends the Czechs 3-1
Slovenia lives another day by defeating Austria 3-0
Based on that, the Quarterfinals:
1 Sweden vs. 8 Slovenia
4 Finland vs. 5 Russia
2 United States vs. 10 Slovakia
3 Canada vs. 6 Switzerland
The beaten-up Swedes hold off Anze Kopitar and the Slovenians 4-1
The host Russians move one step closer to their destiny, knocking off what's left of the Finnish team 4-2
The Americans get by the Slovaks again, but in a closer affair than the laugher that opened the tournament for them, 4-3 in overtime
The Canadians move into the semis, handling the Swiss 4-0 as their assembled firepower, i.e. Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter, find the holes in Jonas Hiller
The top 4 teams in the world – even if not by the current world rankings – are set to clash in the Semifinals:
1 Sweden vs. 5 Russia
2 United States vs. 3 Canada
The Russians might have looked like they were in trouble when they managed to win only once in regulation or overtime in the preliminary round, but they found themselves in the right half of the bracket, matching up against injury-decimated Finland and now Sweden. The Russians solve King Henrik and hold their ground against the weakened Swedish forwards, moving into the gold medal game with a 5-2 victory.
The Americans exact revenge against the Canadians for 2010 as Jonathan Quick stonewalls the Canadian offense (and offensive defense), shutting out the might maple leaf by a 3-0 count, setting up a miracle rematch.
Gold Medal Game:
2 United States vs. 5 Russia
Despite having been to two championships games at the Olympics since Lake Placid, the Americans have not won gold in 34 years and have never done so on foreign soil. The Russians have not been back to the gold medal game since the Unified Team won them their 3rd in a row 22 years ago. So, will the Americans pull off another "miracle" and win in Russia with Vlad
Even though I'm American I don't think the U.S. is defeating the home team twice in Sochi. The U.S. can win in total points, but when it comes to the final game, they'll be bridesmaids for a second straight Olympics as the home team skates to victory, 4-2.
Hey, at least I have us beating Canada!
Who do you think wins gold? Tear my predictions apart and/or share your brackets in the comments!