If you’re like me (we are all Rob The Hockey Guy?), then you’re probably going to join a hockey pool or two for the 2014 Olympic hockey tournament. We don’t know who will play on which line, who will get all of the power play time or who will mesh with who, so what do you do?
Much like playoff pools, you want to pick players that are likely to play the most games, although it isn’t as crucial as the Stanley Cup playoffs because they play fewer games. Also remember that the teams that finish in third and fourth get to play the same amount of games as the teams that play in the gold medal game (unlike the NHL, there is a bronze medal game). You also want players that will receive a boatload of ice time per game.
Here is a look at the 2010 top scorers:
|1||Pavol Demitra (SVK)||7||3||7||10||2||0|
|2||Marián Hossa (SVK)||7||3||6||9||6||0|
|3||Zach Parise (USA)||6||4||4||8||0||+4|
|Brian Rafalski (USA)||6||4||4||8||2||+7|
|5||Jonathan Toews (CAN)||7||1||7||8||2||+9|
|6||Jarome Iginla (CAN)||7||5||2||7||0||+5|
|7||Sidney Crosby (CAN)||7||4||3||7||4||+2|
|Dany Heatley (CAN)||7||4||3||7||4||+1|
|9||Ryan Getzlaf (CAN)||7||3||4||7||2||+2|
|10||Niklas Hagman (FIN)||6||4||2||6||2||−3|
Pavol Demitra led the tournament in scoring, remember that?! I don’t know what odds you could have had, but I’m sure you could have made a pretty penny. Demitra was able to play on Slovakia’s first line because they had little depth at centre. Canada typically has 4 excellent lines, so they spread playing time around fairly evenly. That may deter you from taking a Canadian to win the scoring title.
Here are the scoring leaders in three other Olympic tournaments with NHL participation:
|1||Teemu Selänne (FIN)||5||4||6||10||8|
|2||Saku Koivu (FIN)||6||2||8||10||4|
|3||Pavel Bure (RUS)||6||9||0||9||2|
|4||Aleksandr Koreshkov (KAZ)||7||3||6||9||2|
|5||Philippe Bozon (FRA)||4||5||2||7||4|
|6||Konstantin Shafranov (KAZ)||7||4||3||7||6|
|7||Dominic Lavoie (AUT)||4||5||1||6||8|
|8||Jere Lehtinen (FIN)||6||4||2||6||2|
|9||Alexei Yashin (RUS)||6||3||3||6||0|
|10||Serge Poudrier (FRA)||6||2||4||6||4|
|11||Sergei Fedorov (RUS)||6||1||5||6||8|
|3||10||LE CLAIR, John||USA||F||6||6||1||7||2||2|
Smart money is not on a Canadian, with the exception of Sidney Crosby (simply because he is the best player in the world). Otherwise, I think choosing a player that will receive extra ice time is a good bet. Russia is a team full of talent, but are top heavy with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk. David Krejci is very likely to get prime ice time as the team’s #1 centre and is the best bet on the Czech Republic. Henrik Zetterberg is on a team with a lot of depth, but without a doubt he will get every opportunity to lead them. If you think Team USA will go far, Patrick Kane is their most talented player and did well on the big ice during last year’s NHL lockout.
Here are the odds for scoring leaders at the Sochi 2014 Olympics (courtesy of 888 Poker):
H. Sedin +1150
D. Sedin +1300
Backstrom + 1300
Getzlaf + 1700
C Perry +1900
Toews + 2100
Jagr + 2900
Jaromir Jagr is on this list because of his career numbers, but he isn’t as good as the underrated David Krejci. John Tavares is a great talent, but nobody knows what kind of opportunities he will get on a loaded Team Canada.
My advice is to not get scared of top players on teams thin on talent. Pick players from Finland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and even Switzerland. Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik are interesting picks from Team Slovakia for instance.
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