Owners of eight gold medals, including two in the last three Winter Olympics, and nearly 100 years of Olympic history, Team Canada looks poised to once again dominate the world’s preeminent men’s hockey tournament next week in Sochi, Russia.
Canada’s all-time Olympic record of 99-27-6 and loaded roster could also be big reasons why the team is an outright 2/1 favorite to win the tournament, according to odds makers at Bovada.lv.
The Canadians lead a 12-country field, followed by host country Russia (12/5), two-time gold medal winner Sweden (9/2), and 2010 runner-up Team USA (6/1).
Pittsburgh Penguin superstar forward Sidney Crosby headlines Canada’s roster, along with recently named team captain and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St-Louis, and Chicago Blackhawks duo Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.
That’s without counting two-time Olympic champion and Vancouver Canuck goaltender Robert Luongo and Montreal Canadians rising star Carey Price, who are 13th and 14th in goals allowed per game in the NHL, respectively. Price is also third overall in total saves with 47 games under his belt this season.
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The Canadians are seeking their second straight gold, a feat they haven’t accomplished since the 1952 Games in Oslo.
Russia boasts an exceptional roster, as well. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Ilya Kovalchuk are all expected to score in bunches in the country’s first run for the gold since 1988 when the squad was under the former Soviet Union. With home ice advantage, Russia is expected to be a particularly tough team to beat.
Team USA’s Patrick Kane and team captain Zach Parise are seeking the country’s third gold medal, and would likely welcome a rematch in the gold medal game against Canada to avenge the stunning overtime loss in Vancouver.
The favorites for the medal include Canada, Sweden, and Russia, with the U.S. a dark horse to reach the medal stand.
Sweden last won the whole tournament back at the 2006 Games in Turin, and could ride the shoulders of top goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist once again. It would be a second career gold medal for the Vezina Trophy winner and New York Ranger.
Austria and Slovenia are the biggest longshots in the field at 1000/1.
The puck drops for the first game on Wednesday, Feb. 12 between Sweden and the Czech Republic.