Sochi 2014: Canada Olympic Team Review
EDITOR’S NOTE: As part of RotoWire’s Olympic Preview for the 22nd Winter Olympiad, we have asked six of our hockey writers to review each team in depth to analyze each team’s strengths and weaknesses, and what they think their chances are for winning the Olympic gold. Make sure you check in each day this week for a new team preview.
There’s only one medal that counts in Canada and that’s gold. And the 2014 squad might just be the best roster the country has ever assembled. It has it all – speed, skill; leadership and experience; offence and defence; mobility and physicality … you get the idea.
Canada won it all on home ice in 2010 and enters this competition as the favorite. But repeating is going to be tough. I think there are as many as four teams – Canada, Russia, Sweden and the USA – who have real shots at going home with the gold.
Still, Canada’s winning pedigree is pretty much unmatchable. There are 11 gold-medal winners from 2010 on this team. Four guys have won Rocket Richard trophies. Two have won Selkes; ditto the Hart and the Norris. OK – so, there’s just one Art Ross in there. But the Conn Smythe winner also played dragon slayer in the semi-finals shoot-out at the 2007 World Juniors. And I haven’t even started to count medals from other international competitions.
The blue line is particularly strong and tailor-made for the big ice. There’s a balance of right and left shots, and there’s a sweet blend of guys who’ll shut down, jump up, block shots and kill penalties.
It’s also hard to find a weak spot in the forward ranks. There just aren’t holes in any of their games, regardless of what people think of a few of the picks. There isn’t a single one-dimensional player in the mix and several can play multiple positions. Most of all, every one of them will willingly accept whatever role they’re given.
There is a weakish link on Canada, though, and it’s in the blue paint. Finland has the competition’s best goalies. The U.S.A is great between the posts, too. Canada’s netminders are very good and they all have international experience, but I’d rank the group third-best overall.
Centers: 10 / 10
Wingers: 10 / 10
Defensemen: 10 / 10
Goalies: 7.5 / 10
(it’d be 8 with Corey Crawford
instead of Mike Smith
Canada over Russia
USA over Sweden