The Sochi Olympics will begin February 7 and the most popular event at any Winter Olympic games is hockey, so here is a run-down of the 2014 Sochi Olympics Men’s Hockey Schedule. Olympic hockey will begin February 12 with a game between the Czech Republic and Sweden and end February 23.
Among the five or six dominant national hockey teams, three national teams are positioned to attract the bulk of attention at Sochi: Canada, the U.S., and Russia.
Canada is the defending gold-medal winner from the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. The final game was between Canada and the U.S. and was settled in overtime with a goal by Sydney Crosby on Ryan Miller, ending the game 3-2 Canada. Gerome Iginla made the pass to Crosby that led to the win. Corey Perry and Jonathan Toews also scored goals for Canada that night.
Canada had faced Slovakia in the semifinal and was up 3-0 before Slovakia scored two goals. The final was 3-2 Canada. Slovakia’s Marian Hossa remarked that the Canadian team was “almost the best team ever.”
The 2010 Olympic hockey final game attracted the biggest Canadian TV audience in history, according to the Canadian Television Network. The game was watched by 26.5 million Canadians–80 percent of the population of Canada. When the winning goal was scored, Canadians poured into the streets shouting, “We’re number one!”
The U.S. had beaten Finland 6-1 to get into the finals. Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise scored goals for Team America in the final. Parise’s goal tied up the game in the final minute of the third period. Ryan Miller played an amazing game and took the MVP award.
The U.S.A., not generally considered to be a hockey-loving nation, became one for a the 2010 finals. A total of 28 million viewers tuned in to watch the game, according to Media Daily News. The last time Americans tuned in for hockey in such numbers was the 1980 Miracle on Ice Olympics. The final game may be the highest-rated game ever. The overnight-ranking that Sunday was higher than every World Series game since 2004, every National Basketball Championship since 1998, and every National College Basketball final since 1998, according to Sports Media Watch. No game was more watched in 2010 except football.
Russia, the home team this year, finished sixth in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Russia has done well in the past, though, taking the Bronze in 2002 and the silver in 1998. Russia finished fourth in 1994 and 2006.
It has been remarked that despite Team Canada’s and Team U.S.A.’s pressure at the Sochi Olympics, no one ever has as much pressure as the home team. Olympic hockey predictions allow for Russia having a decent shot at the gold medal. Russia’s team is said to have talented individual players, a strong offense with good speed and puck movement. Russia’s forward line includes Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Radulov, Semin, and team captain Pavel Datsyuk. The Russians also have a well-sized defense, but Russia’s defense is considered by some to be their biggest weakness. The goaltender position on Team Russia is being vied for by two players–Varlamov and Bobrovsky–who can both play dominant shut-down.
Gambling odds favor Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics. Bovada has slotted odds at 2/1 for a Canadian win. Russia is second at 9/4 and Sweden is 4/1. The U.S. is set at 6/1. Czech Republic is at 10/1. Other teams, such as Austria and Slovenia, have equally longshot odds: 1000/1.
By Day Blakely Donaldson