|2014 NFL Draft Profile: Troy Niklas||NHL Playoff Predictions: Bruins over Kings||2014 NHL Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round||Aaron Hernandez Allegedly Threatened to Kill Guard|
With the quarterfinal bracket for the men’s hockey tournament in Vancouver set (and preempting our usual NHL Power Rankings), SoB’s bi-weekly power ranking for hockey will instead cover the eight teams that have made it to the quarterfinals. Since every team is being ranked, a first place vote earns seven points, a second place vote earns six points, and so on, down to zero points for a last place vote.
The surprising American team has forced Russia vs Canada to be a quarterfinals match instead of the Gold Medal Game. In doing so, they’ve captured the top spots in the Olympic standings and our power ranking. The middle of the rankings are a little jumbled (thanks to Canada moving up our power ranking) when compared to the Olympic standings. #9 Belarus, #10 Norway, #11 Germany, and #12 Latvia all were booted out in the qualifying round, but they were surprisingly all by one, save for Germany’s 8-2 loss to Canada; Belarus lost in a shootout, Latvia lost in overtime, and Norway lost in regulation.
It would appear that the U.S. is probably headed for a showdown with Russia or Sweden, maybe Canada, in the Gold Medal game, with Sweden/Canada/Russia and Finland fighting for the Bronze. With Canada and Russia having arguably the most potent NHL superstars in the Olympics, the U.S. will undoubtedly delight in watching them tire each other, and attempt to pick the bones (if it comes to that) for gold. With the way Ryan Miller has been playing, I wouldn’t be surprised.
|Brian||Erikk||John||KC||SoB Composite||Olympic Standings||Comments|
|#1||Sweden||United States||United States||United States||(3) United States (26)||United States||Erikk – Beating Canada to win their group was a surprise, never mind being the overall top-seed. A Swiss team they’ve already beaten is next up, which bodes well for the States’ chances to podium. While the tournament isn’t theirs to lose completely, things are certainly clicking for Team USA.|
|#2||Russia||Sweden||Sweden||Russia||(1) Sweden (24)||Sweden||John – Sweden has a full nine points from their group round, but they couldn’t manage to get more than four goals in a game, and that was against Belarus. Sweden may be #2, but they have a real touch challenge to get a gold medal, or even to qualify for the game (facing Russia/Canada in the semis).|
|#3||United States||Russia||Canada||Sweden||Russia (21)||Russia||John – Russia had a tough loss against Slovakia, but they have Ovechkin and Kovalchuk in their lineup. That’s like when the U.S. men’s basketball team has Kobe and Lebron working together. They’re not invincible, but tough to beat.|
|#4||Canada||Finland||Russia||Finland||Canada (14)||Finland||John – Canada had a tough last two group games, but bounced back nicely against Germany. They’ll need the momentum to beat a well-rested Russia.|
|#5||Finland||Slovakia||Finland||Canada||Finland (14)||Czech Republic||Erikk – While they were shutout by Sweden in their final group game, but did well enough to earn a bye into the quarterfinals. If the Fins can beat the Czechs, the United States is in their future.|
|#6||Czech Republic||Canada||Czech Republic||Czech Republic||Czech Republic (7)||Canada||John – With a +3 goal differential, the Czechs are ahead of only Switzerland amongst the quarterfinal teams. Maybe they can get past Finland, but they’ll need to do a lot better to beat the U.S.|
|#7||Slovakia||Czech Republic||Slovakia||Slovakia||Slovakia (6)||Slovakia||Erikk – Slovakia managed to bounce back from an early loss to the Czechs to drop Russia in the group stage. While no one is expecting them to beat Sweden in the quarters, no one was expecting them to beat Russia.|
|#8||Switzerland||Switzerland||Switzerland||Switzerland||Switzerland (0)||Switzerland||Erikk – By beating Belarus, the Swiss were awarded another matchup against Team USA, to whom they already lost 3-1. Congratulations!|