Team Canada begins its defense of their gold medal victory on home soil in 2010 in Vancouver as they take on an underwhelming Norwegian team looking to spoil the party.
Norway heads into the tournament looking to cause some trouble for the world`s top hockey nations as they have but one NHL player in the form of Mats Zuccarello but face the unenviable task of facing Canada in their tournament opener. Norway is a huge Winter Olympics nation that dominates a number of different events but unfortunately for them they aren’t close to the best country in their geographic section with the likes of Finland and Sweden dominating Scandinavian puck. While it is a nice story to see the Norwegians back on the map when it comes to Olympic Men`s hockey I just don`t see how this is going to be a fruitful journey and the fact they are considered a higher probability to win than a team like Slovenia who boasts a world class NHL talent is head scratching. Nonetheless they catch the Canadian team playing in their first contest and it might take some time for them to work the bugs out.
The Canadians head into Sochi as the odds on favourite to repeat as Olympic gold medallists but they will certainly be in competition with a handful of countries looking to knock them from their perch. Team Canada is loaded on paper as they have hands down the best top to bottom roster of anyone in the tournament and to be honest could field another team altogether full of players who were left off the roster and have an opportunity to reach the podium. Canada is led up front by Vancouver hero Sidney Crosby who despite scoring the golden goal had a relatively quiet tournament in Vancouver and he will certainly look to improve this time around. The talent is endless with the likes of John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Matt Duchene, Chris Kunitz, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and the like up front and a blue line that includes Shea Weber, PK Subban, and Alex Pietrangelo. The knock coming in for Canada was their goaltending and inability to succeed on the bigger ice surface but both of those should be answered quickly and this game should be a punching bag moment for Canada. I have no idea how the line is only five goals as I think the Canadians could put that up in a period and I don`t see Norway getting anywhere close to the Canadian net.