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Team Russia might be the most intriguing team heading into the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. They are coming off a disappointing tournament where they won their group, only to receive a cruel reward of playing the host nation (Team Canada) in the quarterfinals. Canada steamrolled the Russians in a game that wasn’t close.
Remarkably, Russia has never won gold in hockey at the Olympics since the NHL began participating in it in 2002. They haven’t even been to the final since 1998 when they were beaten by Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic. The last gold medal Russia earned at the Olympics was in 1992, when they were competing as the Unified Team (aka Former Soviet Union). The last time Russia won a best-on-best tournament (the World Championships don’t count) was at the 1981 Canada Cup. So you could say they’re overdue for a big tournament win.
As the host nation, Russia (along with Canada) has to be considered the gold medal favourite. Russia’s top-end talent is as good as anyone else in the world with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk leading the way.
Here are the odds to be the team’s highest scorer (odds courtesy of 888 Poker):
I bet the Nashville Predators are thrilled that Radulov is with that kind of company.