Pre-Tourey Eval

Discussion in 'International Tournaments' started by smurfonarocket, Feb 15, 2006.

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  1. smurfonarocket

    smurfonarocket Registered User

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    Here is my two cents on each of the top seven teams in the tourney, be nice, its my first time posting

    Pre-Olympic Evaluation

    Canada

    They are going into this tournament as the odds on favorite to win this thing outright. They boast the most balanced team out there. However this compact schedule, larger ice, and relatively short time to gel, might prove a problem for them

    Defense

    In my opinion they are the only team that can boast three legitimate pairings that can either act as a shutdown pairing or help out on the rush. There smallest guy is Wade Redden, which means that any body goes up against them will have their hands full. Pronger, Blake and Foote all have extensive international experience and will always step it up when their country comes calling. Jbo is also no slouch, and neither is Reghyr, who will in the near future replace Pronger as the top shutdown defenceman in Canada.

    Forwards

    Once again they bring one of the most deadly combination of players to the tournament. They have grit, skill, speed, determination, and most importantly vision. Canada can approach a game any way they choose. They can balance their lines evenly, or they can dedicate a true checking line and three true first lines. The only knocks I have are fairly minor. I do not think they will be used to larger ice surface of Italy, however the 5 prelim games will sort that out. Also, they don’t have the most flashy players out there. I am not saying they aren’t flashy, they just don’t have AO, Jagr or Kovlchuk kind of flash….but there are very few players that are as dynamic as those three. Our talent is still top-end at the very least though.

    Czech Republic

    If anyone does upset the Canadians, I believe the Czechs will do it. They have probably the two best players in the tournament playing at the peak of their game. As we have already seen, Hasek can pretty much win the medal on his own, and Jagr can dominate anything that is thrown at him.

    Defense

    While Hasek just came down with a groin injury, Vokoun is no slouch. He can hold his own in net, and is having another monster season in Nashville. Their defence is solid yet unspectacular. They do not have the flexibility on defense as the Canadians do but, they are able to ice a shutdown pair featuring Malik. They have tons of offense coming from from Kubina, Zidlicky et al. However, these positions can be exploited with the depth Canada, Russia and most likely Sweden have.

    Forwards

    The Czechs have the scariest player in the tournament playing at his peak. Jagr will pose a threat to anyone that he plays against, and everyone is going to have trouble containing him. He can snake out of almost anyone and obtain a scoring chance. I am not even sure Canada can contain this guy so that he doesn’t burn us at least once or twice.

    The rest of their forwards are also just as dynamic. While Hejduk has not been playing at his best, I don’t think his lackluster performance as of late will carry-over to the Olympics. Moreover Sykora, is hot right now and you cannot deny Elias’ scoring prowess. Their wild card is probably Olesz, from what I have seen his maturity is right up there with any of the veterans, and if he can perform, he can take some of the load of the rest of team.

    The one thing they are lacking is a true checking or energy line which can contain Top lines. While the best defense is an insane offence, it might not always work. If their offence is not firing on all cylinders, they might have some problems containing the top lines.


    Finland

    The Finnish are going to have a rough time this year. Their top two goalies have withdrawn (according to TSN) and will have to rely on the stellar play of Nittamytki (sp?). They have firepower, they have defense and most likely have goaltending, but I do not believe they will be able to match, the Russians, Canadians, Czechs or Swedes in any of these departments. An interesting note is, that they listed four pairs of brothers to the Roster, however there has been a few declines. The four brothers include the, Ruutu’s, Jokinen’s, Koivu’s and the Kapenen’s.

    Defense

    Like the World Cup, they have a defense core that can get it done, while not being the best in the tournament. I am not sure of the status of Pitkanen, but if he is there he will be able to carry a significant load, either shutting down top lines or playing a more offensive game. These boys are my dark horse of the tournament that should hold their own.

    Offense

    The Finns are probably going to have the most annoying line in the tournament with Nieminen and J. Ruttu playing on the same line with Lehtinen probably playing there, to show a good defensive presence. They have two top veteran lines, that are reliable skilled and able to take a hit. If the World Cup is any indication of the play, they don’t take much time to get used to the large ice surface. With a mix of young and old blood on the team they should have at least one of their younger guys breakout and have a monster of a tourney.

    Russia

    I don’t care what anyone says, the Russians have probably the most dynamic team on paper. Their forwards have a scary amount of talent oozing out of them and on defense they have two scary boys in Tyutin and Volchenkov. Goaltending shouldn’t be a problem either, since they have Nabokov and Bryzgalov. Sokolov is probably the best Russian goalie ever produced and will be win gold for them….yes I am only kidding.

    Defense

    These guys can be scary. Russians now aren’t afraid to lay out the body, and if they are playing Canada….hoo boy, this will be a physical game. Like I said, Tyutin and Volchenkov are just scary. Kaspar will be his normal chippy self and if Gonchar can raise his game, their defence will have more then enough fire power. An interesting note though is that all their defensemen are naturally left handed (according to TSN), so Canada might be able to exploit that.

    Forwards

    I have no reason to believe otherwise, Russia is downright scary. If you are boasting a guy name AO, who can hit, shoot, deke, play defense and shows up every game, you are going to be a force. I forgot, the rest of their team isn’t bad either. Kovalchuck, Kovalev, Afingenov, Frolov, Kovalev, Malkin all make for some jaw dropping talent.

    Their plan looks like an insane offense will be the best defense, because their bottom two lines aren’t going to be the most defensively sound lines. But with so much talent who cares. Canada should be able to shutdown the lines (sort of), but don’t expect these guys to be held off scoresheet for that long. If you are 6’6 and named Chris, you better show them who is boss fast, and give them no room to do anything.

    Nowadays, Russia will not back down from physical stuff, so if you hit them they are going to hit back. Hopefully AO isn’t going cry like a baby again on the ice!

    Slovakia

    While TSN ranks them as fourth I do not believe the talent is there for them to be that high. they have a monster on defence but have some pretty unproven goaltending. The Slovaks will be in tough to medal, especially with what else everyone is bringing to the table

    Defense

    In the World Cup, their defense was exposed and soft. While they do have Chara playing, he cannot play 60 minutes a game. With most teams having more balanced scoring, the Slovak holes will become apparent. Also their goaltending is fairly weak, and I have reason to believe they will not be able to win many games for them on their own.

    Offense

    Even though Palffy has retired from playing hockey, they still boast a dynamic line up. Demitra, Hossa and Gaborik can lead the rush whenever or use their deceptive speed and hands to get past defending players. They also lack a true power forward. Some could argue that Handzus is it, but he does not play like he has a 6’5 frame. You don’t see him crashing the net like Bert is capable of doing.

    Sweden

    Sweden has underperformed in the last few high profile tournaments, mainly due to under-achieveing goaltending. However, they have King Henrik in net, who this year has been stellar and has given no reason that he won’t do the same in the Olympics. The loss of Nazzy is a fairly big hit, and the question of Forsberg could hurt a bit.

    Defense

    The Swedes have two of the most reliable defensemen in the tournament with Ohlund and Lidstrom. Ohlund is one of the premier shutdown defensemen in the game and will probably be facing Iggy et al again. Lidstrom is smooth skating and will (as usual) be a force. Their defense core is mix of youth and veterans. I believe their defense will be solid yet unspectacular compared to some of the other teams in the tournament.

    Forwards

    I believe this is the Sedin’s tournament to show that they can control the living daylights out of the puck on an international level. Their top two lines have ridiculous amounts of leadership and experience, that they should be able to persevere. Alfie, Sundin and Zetterberg all can score, and the Sedins seem to have a third eye. The Swedish forwards are my sleeper pick earn a medal, providing the twins light it up.

    USA

    While Wadell has insfused some youth into the line-up, it is still relatively the same as to the ’02 and WC ’04 team. USA is always competitive , but how all the other teams of the big seven have progressed they are going to have a tough time trying to earn themselves a medal.

    Defense

    Besides Leopold and Liles, their defense is full of veterans that are on the downside of their career. This is not saying they cannot perform well, or even exceptional, but the ice surface, their age, and the relative skill of the other teams will wear them down fairly quickly. Hatcher is big and hulking, but like much of the team will have problems adapting to the speed that will most likely be brought their way. Leopold and Liles can QB a powerplay admirably and will be relied upon to score a few of their points. While the experience they bring into their own zone will play a factor, the speed that any one of the other six teams can bring might prove to be difficult for them to handle.

    Forwards

    In my opinion they do not have one first line. They have four mid to high end second lines that can score and check when the situation warrants itself. They will be relying on a scoring on a committee system that usually brings out a few pleasant suprises. This isn’t a bad thing because when you are relying on so many talented players you shouldn’t have a problem
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2006
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