After bullying past the Americans in a tightly fought contest, Canada will face Sweden as favorites in the Men’s Ice Hockey Gold medal game, and I’m here to dish out a free pick on what’s going to be an awesome finale. The Canadians are favored at -190 right now against Sweden, which is a +155 underdog. Obviously, as the defending gold medalists, Canada deserves some respect. But I wouldn’t sleep on the Swedes.
Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal Free Pick
The secret to Canada’s success is one of the reasons that most will side with their own men’s ice hockey gold medal free picks: they’re able to build and maintain constant offensive pressure. That doesn’t always translate in to goals but it does allow Canada to control the tempo and momentum of a game. Canada piled up 37 shots on Jonathan Quick during Friday’s game, but also felt like they had the puck for the entire contest. Price faced 31 shots, and that’s a case where the game sheet sort of misleads you. If they had tracked time of possession in that game, Canada probably had the puck for well over two-thirds of the game.
This mean’s that it’s going to be a very long gold medal game for Swedish netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who remains one of the best in the world without question. Lundqvist turned away 25-of-26 shots as the Swedes held off Finland in a 2-1 victory. This is a deep and very talented team led by the Sedin twins, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Backstrom and Alexander Steen offensively. They’re have to hope that their best defenders – Niklas Kronwall and Erik Karlsson – are up to task as Canada pours on the expected pressure.
Let’s keep in mind that Sweden isn’t a pushover on the international ice either. They won the 2013 World Championships and claimed gold at the 2006 Olympics in Turin. These guys know how to win in international competition and are definitely giving me a bit of a headache as I try to decipher my men’s ice hockey gold medal free pick. This is an exceptional team from a country that absolutely loves its hockey that is in a desperate mode to make up for their obscenely early exit in the last Olympics, where they were ousted by Slovakia in the quarterfinals.
There is very good reason to back Sweden overall. They have a strong defensive anchor, a goalie who is way overdue for a “big moment” in his career and two deadly scoring lineups. As much as Canada has controlled the puck for the majority of games, Carey Price hasn’t looked dominant and comfortable in net this entire tournament. He’s a great goalie – one of the best – but a shaky start from a fast and furious Swedish offense could bury his confidence quickly. I have less concerns about this regarding Lundqvist.
But all this being said, ice hockey gold medals are always Canada’s to lose, whether it’s men’s or women sides. On pure technical merit, Sweden is a better bet because they can absolutely win this game and are posting a fantastic number at +155. Making a men’s ice hockey gold medal free pick against the defending Canadians, however, seems like hockey blasphemy.