Olympic Hockey Preview: Two USA vs. Canada Showdowns

Sidney CrosbyThe field chasing medals in the 2014 Winter Olympics continues to narrow in men’s hockey. The quarterfinal round had Sweden scoring a decisive 5-0 victory over Slovakia, and an equally dominant 5-2 win by the United States over the Czech Republic. Olympic favorite Canada narrowly edged out Latvia 2-1, and in what has to be the biggest surprise of the winter games so far, Russia was ELIMINATED by Finland in a 3-1 defeat. Alexander Ovechkin has to be considered the biggest disappointment of these games, scored only once in the first period of Russia’s first match-up, an unexpectedly dry performance for the leading goal scorer in the NHL. The action now moves to the semi-final round this Friday, as the U.S. and Canadian powerhouses will square off, while Sweden and the surprising Finns go head-to-head. In the latter game the line on total goals scored is 5.5. With the over at +200 and the under set at -240. Sweden’s not playing Slovakia this time – if Tuukka Rask can stifle the offensive minded Russians, Sweden may be equally hard pressed to rack up goals. To be fair the same can be said if Finland tries to score on Henrik Lundqvist after his second shutout of these games. Playing the over on this line may be the riskiest bet of these Olympics. On the money line Sweden is -150 and Finland is +130, but Finland’s legendary Teemu Selanne may be the difference maker here. If he gets hot Lundqvist may find more shots on goal than he’s able to defend. Oddsmakers expect this one to be a close game either way, as Finland is -235 to lose by 1.5 or less, Sweden +195 to win by 1.5 or more. In the most anticipated showdown of the Olympics, the men’s teams from the United States and Canada go head to head on Friday in the semi-finals, captained by Zach Parise and Sidney Crosby respectively. On the money line Canada is -120 and the U.S. is +100, making this a dead heat going forward. Give the overtime line a shot on this one for good action: -430 to end in regulation and +345 to require extra time to settle. There’s another USA vs. Canada hockey game on tap, and this one is between the women. The money line right now favors the United States at -125, and the flip side of this coin is Canada being a very narrow dog at +105, despite besting the Americans in the preliminary round. That’s not much to go on either way – little to gain playing it safe and even less to win going against it. The books clearly expect a definitive winner though as the game is -350 to not go to overtime and +290 to have extended ice time. The U.S. blew through Sweden 6-1 on their way to the gold medal game, while Canada had a closer but still dominant performance against Switzerland in a 3-1 win. The money line on the U.S. makes sense, but I’d lay the juice on the game not going to overtime instead. Total goals is an interesting bet as it’s -135 over 4.5 and +115 under. You’re essentially betting on a 3-2 or a 2-1 game and neither one is inconceivable with these finalists going for the gold! As always please remember that these previews are for entertainment purposes. If you’re going to wager on the Olympics, bet only what you can afford. Enjoy the 2014 Olympics airing live from Sochi, Russia!

Written by Stevie J

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