It may be a little early to start making picks for the 2014 Winter Olympics Mens Hockey Tournament that is set to take place in February in Russia, but online sportsbook Bodog.eu (Bovada.lv for Americans) has already released odds for the event. The sportsbook hasn’t just stopped with the Gold Medal winner odds either, choosing to also offer odds for the winner of each of the three Olympic groups.
The Olympic teams are expected to be set in early January, but speculation has run wild with which players will be selected to each team. I highly doubt that the selections will change the odds for each team very much either because there are so many strong players to choose from for the top teams that there would have to be some extremely strange selections to alter the odds much at all.
First of all, let’s look at the odds for each Group and I will pick my winner.
Group A Winner Odds
- Russia -200
- USA +175
- Slovakia +900
- Slovenia +10000
This is an extremely interesting group, that could be considered the group of death. The Russians are always a favourite when it comes to hockey, and at the 2010 Olympics they were dealt a very tough draw through no fault of their own. After winning their group, they ended up having to play Canada in the quarterfinals because the Canadians did poorly in their own group having lost to the Americans and only beating the Swiss in a shootout. The Russians lost to Team Canada 7-3 in the quarters and that was the end of their tournament. Russia will have the top end talent once again, but they also give up something to be desired defensively from many of their top forwards such as Alex Ovechkin. They could easily lose to either the USA or Slovakia and finish out of first place.
Slovakia finished fourth at the 2010 Olympics and still has players like Marian Hossa, Zdeno Chara and Marian Gaborik leading their team. They cannot be overlooked. Slovakia defeated Russia in a shootout in 2010, and also upset Sweden 4-3 in the quarterfinals before losing 3-2 to Canada in the semi’s. They have a solid team.
The Americans finished with the Silver in 2010 and going 5-0 in the tournament to that point. That includes a 5-3 win over the eventual gold medal winning Canadians in the group stage and a dominant 6-1 win over Finland in the semi’s.
I like either the USA at +175 or the Slovaks at +900 in this group. These teams can both defeat the Russians and have the ability to string together a good three game stretch to win this group.
Best Play: USA +175 and Slovakia +900
Group B Winner Odds
- Canada -700
- Finland +350
- Norway +5000
- Austria +10000
Yes, this group does have Canada included, the top team in the tournament, but it is definitely the weakest group of the bunch. The winner of this group will come down to the Canada vs Finland game.
I think Canada beats Finland 4 times out of 5, but that still doesn’t justify taking Team Canada at -700. The best bet here is Finland at +350 (they won the Bronze in 2010 beating Slovakia and the Czech Republic en route). This early in the tournament Team Canada is a smaller favourite in my books than later as well, because they have had less time to build chemistry.
Best Play: Finland +350
Group C Winner Odds
- Sweden -200
- Czech Republic +188
- Switzerland +700
- Latvia +8000
This is the only group where I think the favourite is strong enough to justify their odds.
Switzerland at +700 is no joke either, as they showed in 2010 when they took Canada to a shootout in the group stage, and then as recently as last year when they won the Silver medal at the 2013 World Championships. Not only did they make it to the Finals of that tournament, but they went 7-0 in the group stage, beating teams such as Sweden, Canada and the Czech Republic. They followed that up with wins over the Czech Republic and the USA in the elimination round. Now I don’t see that happening at the Olympics, but Switzerland definitely put themselves on the map.
The Czech’s are also still very much a team to pay attention to. Jagr and Elias are getting older, but they still have many players in their prime playing in the NHL.
That said I still think that Sweden’s depth makes them a better than 2 to 1 favourite over the Czechs in the Group stage. Because Switzerland poses an actual threat it won’t come down to just the game between Sweden and the Czech Republic to win the group. I think the Czechs are more likely to be upset by the Swiss than the Swedes, and for that reason I like Sweden at -200 in this group.
Best Play: Sweden -200
2014 Winter Olympics Gold Medal Winner
Now let’s look at the odds for the big prize:
- Canada 2/1
- Russia 9/4
- Sweden 5/1
- USA 11/2
- Czech Republic 10/1
- Finland 12/1
- Switzerland 25/1
- Slovakia 33/1
Those are the teams with a shot. At the Olympics every single team makes the elimination round as well, so the group stage is a waste of time as Team Canada showed in 2010. So this means you have to win at least 3 games against quality competition to win the tournament. For that reason I’m taking out Canada and Russia as the best bets. Canada should have the best team, but at 2/1 having to beat such quality opposition it becomes closer to a coin flip.
I think Sweden and Team USA have almost as strong of teams as Team Canada, but much more friendly odds to win Gold. I would take either the Swedes or Americans at those odds.
The Czech Republic and Finland have strong enough teams to pull off upsets over the top dogs, but not strong enough to string together three or four wins over quality opponents. At some point their inferiority will show through. The same can be said about Switzerland and Slovakia, but to a larger degree.
Best Play: Sweden 5/1 or USA 11/2
How To Bet On The Winter Olympics Ice Hockey
After funding your account you will then find the odds under ‘Winter Olympics 2014’ and ‘Olympic Hockey Futures’. ***The odds are not under ‘Hockey Futures’ in the ‘Hockey’ section.
A lot can change before the Olympics in February, but you can be sure you will be seeing some of the top quality hockey of the past four years in Sochi!