The meaningless round-robin is over. Everything that transpired in the past week means nothing.
The medal round is upon us and their are several interesting matchups that should provide some excellent quality hockey.
Switzerland vs Sweden
This game is interesting considering the fact Sweden arguably lost on purpose in order to face the Swiss. In essence what the Swedish coach told his team is “You’re not good enough to beat Canada or the Czechs.” Sweden is the stronger team but hopefully this strategy will backfire on them. The Swiss team has been on a low since defeating Canada and only managed a tie against Italy. They were ‘up’ for the game against Canada and if they hope to have any chance against the Swedes they’re going to have to psyche themselves to the same level and hope their goaltending is superb.
Prediction: Sweden 3 – Switzerland 1
Finland vs USA
Finland is on a role and has given up the fewest goals out of all the teams. The US have struggled in almost every game. Finland’s confident and I can’t see the US being able to overcome the Finns.
Prediction: Finland 4 – USA 2
Czech Republic vs Slovakia
This will be a death match. The former country seperated in the early 90s and formed two quality hockey nations. This is the equivalent of Quebec Seperatists playing against Team Ontario. They hate each other. The interesting thing is before the tournament most would have predicted the Czech’s to be 5-0 and the first seed. Slovakia like Finland, has surpassed expectations so far and there is no sign they are going to stop now.
Prediction: Slovakia 4 – Czech Republic 3 [Overtime]
Canada vs Russia
A classic matchup. Canada is definitely going to have to put the round robin behind them and start over. If they play like they did against the Czechs, Swiss or Finns, there is no chance they’ll come out on top of the Russians. The Russians possess a lethal attack and Canada will have to contain them and count on excellent goaltending. If the Canadians can manage to score early on the weaker Russian defense and play 3 full periods then it’s their game to lose. Even the US managed 4 goals against Russia after trailing 2-0. Canada traditionally ‘cares more’ than the Russians which is usually an advantage but this team has left a lot of doubt on the table.
Prediction: Canada 4 – Russia 3
Regardless of who wins, it will be very entertaining hockey with the World’s best going all out for their National pride.