The World Cup Of Hockey 2016 Predictions
Ice Hockey World Cup
By Bob Duff
When it comes to international hockey, how do you bet against Canada?
The Canadians have captured the last two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014 and the nucleus of their 2014 title team will comprise the nucleus of their World Cup of Hockey team. There’s even a few stragglers left in the lineup from Canada’s gold-medal team from the last World Cup of Hockey title win in 2004.
When it comes to hockey of late, Canada owns the top of the podium and why not? This is the team of Sidney Crosby, of Drew Doughty, of Jonathan Toews, of Shea Weber, John Tavares and Tyler Seguin.
Yeah, they are loaded. No wonder every sportsbook has Canada as overwhelming favorite to win the World Cup of Hockey in their futures books.
Bovada has Canada at -105. BetOnline likes the Canadians at +110. Paddy Power puts the Canada at -187, Sports Interaction sees them at -114 and TopBet puts the Canadians ahead of all other countries at -110.
So what’s not to like about Canada? Well . . .
For starters, who’s in goal? They want it to be Carey Price, or should we say the Canadians are hoping it will be Carey Price. The Montreal Canadiens netminder, who was a brick wall between the pipes during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, and won the Vezina and Hart Trophies in 2014-15, was limited to 12 games last season after spraining the medial collateral ligament in his right knee, and hasn’t played since November.
If Price can’t answer the bell, the bell will toll for either Braden Holtby, a Vezina Trophy winner, or Corey Crawford, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, but both are unproven in international hockey. If you’re old enough to remember the first Canada Cup, forerunner to the World Cup, in 1976, you will recall how Rogie Vachon rode to the rescue for Canada when injury put Ken Dryden out of commission and unavailable.
That’s not Canada’s only concern. Both defenseman Duncan Keith, a Norris Trophy winner, and forward Jamie Benn, an Art Ross Trophy winner, have pulled out of the tournament due to injury. Canada’s depth is being tested, and will it pass the test? Based on past history, the Canadians probably will, but should the mighty Canadians falter, or if you just don’t like putting your money on overwhelming favorites, which teams should you consider backing to take the World Cup?
Start with the United States. BetOnline has Team USA as co-second favorite at +450, but other other sportsbook are less sold on the Americans, so you can get a price. Bovada has them as fourth betting choice at +600, while Sports Interaction is offering +610. TopBet puts the Americans as co-third choice at +500.
The Americans are much deeper in goal than Canada with Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick and Cory Schneider available. The roster current NHL scoring champion Patrick Kane and proven goal scorer Joe Pavelski is their captain. Like Canada, playing in a North American-sized rink is second nature to these guys. Team USA won the 1996 World Cup and lost to Canada in OT for the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The sportsbooks also seem to like Russia, maybe moreso than you should like the Russians. Bovada has Russia as second choice at odds of +400. Sports Interaction (+610) also make Russia their second betting choice, as do TopBet (+450). BetOnline puts Russia, Sweden and Team USA all as co-second choice at +450.
Why shouldn’t you back a team that features Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Artemi Panarin? For starters, there’s Russia’s appalling history of underchievement. The Russians haven’t won a medal in a best on best tournament since earning bronze at the 2002 Winter Olympics. That’s a long history of failure.
Surprisingly, for a team that won the silver medal at the World Championship last year, Finland isn’t getting much love from the sportsbooks. Bovada, TopBet and BetOnline all have the Finns at +1400, while Sports Interaction puts them at +1300. The Finns were bronze medalists at the 2014 Olympics and silver medalists at the last World Cup of Hockey and shouldn’t be counted out so easily.
If you’re really in the mood to gamble, perhaps the most intriguing entry in the tournament is Team North America, comprised of the NHL’s top North American players aged 23 and under. A team that features the NHL’s last three first overall draft picks – Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, and Auston Matthews – their youthful exuberance could come to the fore in the short tournament format.
Sports Interaction (+1100) and BetOnline (+1200) seem to believe in the North Americans a little bit, while Bovada (+1600) and TopBet (+1800) aren’t nearly as sold on their chances.
Pick: Canada (-105)
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