Day three of the tournament brings an abrupt change in the intensity level of the hockey betting. The first two days featured mostly games that could have been picked from a hat and been perfect. The time changes now. There are four games tomorrow but the big one is obviously going to be Team USA versus the home Russian squad. There is talk that this tournament is all about Russia facing Canada in the final and all that jazz. However, the red, white, and blue did show something yesterday against Germany and that needs to be realized. Yes Germany is likely to be relegated but an 8-0 win does mean something this early, especially when Russia looked a little nervous in a 3-2 squeaker over Slovakia.
The key in trying to ascertain a winner in these types of situations is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack. Take a look at how international hockey odds for more than just a passing glance. There is a reason for this. In a competition, where there are two clear classes of ability, numbers are clear cut until the tiers play each other. When you start to break things down scientifically, the numbers really never do lie or do they?
As it stands, Russia is a 1 1/2 goal favorite over Team USA. The over/under by the way is six which represents a step down in the goal total. This is not a surprise, given that two of the better goalies in the tournament are facing each other, goals will be a bit harder to come by or so we think. Again, Russia is coming off a game where they only scored three times but had a ton of quality scoring chances. The Americans shut out Germany 8-0 but there were many moments where it looked like they could give up two, three, maybe even four goals in the contest.
Just think we have provided this simple analysis without mentioning one single player. Eventually that will be done for the medal round ladies and gentlemen. The key is to simply list strengths and weaknesses as they stand pat. Let’s do this with those check things that analysts like to use.
Russia Vs. USA: Hockey Betting Checkmarks!
Special Teams: Russia
This is almost dead even from our standpoint. Many analysts feel that Russia’s weak link is their defense and though Team USA does have some issues behind the blue, they are less than Russia’s. The same kind of scenario plays out with special teams because we don’t really know enough about how either squad will perform in game critical situations. Russia has the edge in goaltending but not by as much as people think and the intangibles are dead even. Why? Yes Russia has the home ice advantage but the Americans have been there before. They have played in the hostile environment in a gauntlet like dilemma. Remember they play Canada on Saturday on top of it. Many view this as the game Team USA must win.
If you want numbers and stats to be thrown at you in an overkill style, then turn away from the screen. On the other hand, you want to win. We do too. Like we said in our preview, the key games come fast and furious. Just wait until Canada plays Russia for example or the Americans face Canada. Then the real fireworks start. This is only the beginning.
So what do our predictions look like for tomorrow. Okay, it is time to end the talking and put up which teams will win on Friday. My girlfriend and I dabble on picks for these types of tournaments and we will keep a bit of a running tab on games we pick throughout this week or so. Sometimes hockey betting is based on gut and sometimes it is skill. Other times it is something completely different.
Rachel has taken Canada, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Team USA. When all is said and done, taking those four teams sounds like a solid plan. Granted, the Finland spread at a -2 is a bit attractive, but it would be more so if it was at 1 1/2. That is why the number being at 2 is just a bit scary. It could be a push potentially. Canada will cover but just barely, Sweden will not be as lucky, and Team USA could win outright. All in all, it shapes up to be an interesting Friday.
Update (7pm ET) –– Now that we have had a bit of time to digest what happened today, we can kind of recap what happened and tomorrow we will set up for the clash between Team USA and Canada. It now becomes a must win as literally the Americans were game but ultimately fell 2-1 to Russia earlier today. The Czech Republic threw a real wrench into the best laid plans of bettors when they took care of Finland the way they did today. Finland became pretty undisciplined. Then Sweden could not cover today against Sweden. However, Canada stumbled out of the gate which no one expected, went down 3-1 before rallying for five straight goals in their 6-3 win. The problem is they may lose Ryan Murray to a questionable hit but something tells me that will not happen.
The biggest concern with Team USA is the one many thought may occur and that is the lack of finishers. This was a problem in last year’s championships and really reared its ugly head today. Rocco Grimaldi had a chance that people will keep talking about even into the weekend. It was that kind of glorious chance that should go in. It changed the game to be perfectly honest. Add in the fact that the Americans were saddled with four penalties in the first period and their flow was completely disrupted. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how betting lines for Team USA will be affected. Something tells me that this squad may not be a medal favorite anymore. Time will tell.
Canada will have to be watched because of these early sluggish starts. First it was against Germany and then today against Slovakia. It will be fascinating to see how they come out against a very hungry American squad who needs at least 2, if not 3 points.
Our picks tomorrow are simple. Rachel is taking Sweden over Latvia while I will also be taking Sweden but I will also take Russia though the spread concerns me a bit. Germany can play better and has the talent to keep the deficit down but with the way their luck has gone, it will be tough to go ATS (against the spread). In the end, both Rachel and I went 3-1 by different means and Saturday will be an easy day to set up Sunday.
We want your picks ladies and gentlemen. Keep in mind, Sweden is -5 1/2 and Russia is -4 1/2. Good luck everyone.
Update (8pm ET): The big game on Sunday is undoubtedly Team USA versus Canada as this is an important game for the Americans in the sense that a point or two would help their cause. A regulation loss would not eliminate the Americans by any stretch but their road to a medal will be much more difficult without at least getting a result. While the Russia game was a moral victory, it was a game that was winnable. John Gibson played phenomenal in a losing effort and has to do it again against Canada.
For a simple breakdown, we highly recommend Mark Ritter’s USA-Canada breakdown. It sets up to be a dynamic showdown beginning at yes, 4:30am ET. This is a game that as we said, Team USA needs much more than Canada. However, the lack of scoring issue despite chances is something that seems destined to haunt the American squad. In the end, I am going against the grain and taking Canada in this one by two goals. Rachel will be taking the Americans. Also watch for Slovakia (-2) against Germany. Germany has had a tough time with every team and Slovakia has had its moments in this tournament. It could be an intriguing bet along with Switzerland as a nice underdog against a Finnish team who has not looked so good so far.
Stay tuned and get ready. The action begins with the Finns at 2:30am ET. Will you be up? I know I will. Expect some awesome hockey!
Simply a hockey writer who is a jack of all trades. No question is too big or too small and in fantasy hockey there is no such thing as a stupid question. Now a proud, accredited member of the FSWA. I am also a New Jersey Devils lead writer, prospects writer, humorist, and so much more. You can find me on Twitter at @ChrisWasselDFS