Five countries preventing Canada from winning Olympic gold in men’s hockey

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Defending champions Russia take this tournament seriously. How seriously? The KHL closed a month early

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With a hodgepodge of old veterans, junior prospects and average Joes not good enough to play in the best league in the world, there’s no guarantee Canada will win gold. Even matching the bronze medal they won at the 2018 Olympics will be a challenge considering how the ground has been leveled. Here is an overview of the competition.

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RUSSIA
The defending champions take this tournament seriously. How seriously? The KHL closed a month early in part to help players prepare for their gold medal defense. Unlike four years ago, they won’t have Pavel Datsyuk or Ilya Kovalchuk to lean on for experience or a future star in Kirill Kaprizov. But last year’s top scorer, Nikita Gusev, who had 12 points in six games, is back.

UNITED STATES
With 15 college players spread across their roster, this year’s team has a Miracle on Ice-like feel. For teenagers like Matt Beniers (No. 2 overall in 2021) and Jake Sanderson (No. 5 in 2020), it may be too much, too soon. Again, if young players can make an impact in the NHL, it may not be unrealistic to expect them to be able to do the same at the Olympics as well.

FINLAND
Like Canada, you can always count on the Finns to play with as much courage as heart. Finland finished second in the Karjala Cup and the Channel One Cup – the preparatory tournaments for the Olympics – and also won gold at the 2019 world championships. With Leo Komarov, Sami Vatanen, Valtteri Filppula, Markus Granlund on roster, they also have a lot of NHL experience.

GERMANY

The dark horse of the Olympics ended up winning silver in 2018 after surprising Canada in the semi-finals with an unnamed roster. Of course, they would be much better with Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stutle and Moritz Seider. But Dominik Kahun gives them a forward who scored nine NHL goals last year. That’s more than anyone – including Eric Staal – had for Canada.

CZECHIA
Canada lost to the Czechs in the preliminary round in 2018. This year’s team features David Krejci, who is arguably the best player at the Olympics. After all, the 35-year-old had 44 points in 51 games with the Bruins last season. And he’s joined by former NHL players in Michael Frolik, Vladimir Sobotka, Jakub Jerabek, Roman Cervenka, Michal Repik and Michael Spacek.

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