With the NHL in full shutdown mode, and the Olympics underway it’s difficult to stay focused on the NHL standings and the teams that make up said standings. So we won’t – and I’m sure the Canucks vacationing in Barbados won’t bat an eye. Instead it’s time to shift our criticism and expertise to the team that holds the weight of a nation on their shoulders. As Allen Iverson once claimed- “We talkin’ bout Team Canada” (or something along those lines). Now, if you think that the term “Team Canada” refers to a certain blue and white colored jersey adorned by players such as Phil Kessel and Dion Phanuef – you’re an idiot. The Canadian Olympic team is set to play Norway on February the 13th and is looking to get a good start to a tough tournament.
While the Norwegians don’t pose too many threats, at least in terms of superstars, there will be plenty of other teams and plenty of others players who will try their darndest to take our red and white heroes down. Here are the biggest threats to another Canadian gold medal in Olympic Men’s hockey.
5) Ryan Kesler (USA) – Kesler may not be the most offensive or skilled player on Team USA but one could argue he loves beating Canada more than anyone. He has been a thorn in Team Canada’s side since his days in the World Juniors and scored two goals against Canada in the 2010 tournament.
4) Henrik Zetterberg (SWEDEN) – An excellent two-way player and a natural leader Sweden will look to Zetterberg to take the team under his wing with Henrik Sedin injured. Zetterberg is always dangerous and is very crafty on the big ice.
3) Pavel Datsyuk (RUSSIA) – Another two-way player with tremendous skill, Datsyuk will thrive on the open ice. Datsyuk is still very much a Russian at heart despite playing in Detroit for over a decade. Look to him to be a stoic leader in the Russian locker room, keeping the emotions at bay.
2) Zdeno Chara (SLOVAKIA) – With Chara anchoring the back-end, Slovakia has dark horse written all over them. Chara will be the best shut-down d-man in the tournament. Expect an upset at an unlikely time for the Slovaks, similar to the performance they put in at the 2010 games.
1) Alexander Ovechkin (RUSSIA) – This guy will be the most fired up player in the tournament, maybe even the entire Olympics. Expect goals, goals and more goals from Ovi. Oh and maybe a thunderous hit here and there too.