Patriotism and nationalism aside, watching the Olympic hockey tournament is one of the biggest wastes of time since betting on the WNBA.
Curling, in my mind, holds about as much interest.
The bigger, wider European rink keeps smaller, less-competitive countries in games, making for close games with fewer goals. But this is not what we in North America are used to.
Just look at Team Canada as an unfortunate example.
Through the qualification round of contests to reach to this week’s single-elimination medal round in Sochi, Team Canada has scored 11 goals with six of them by defensemen, including four by Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.
Besides telling Kings management to switch to an Olympic-size rink immediately, what does this mean?
A big rink equals few hits, fewer scoring chances and just a handful of goals, despite plenty of possession time in the offensive zone. This from a Canada roster featuring forwards Jamie Benn, Dallas; Patrice Bergeron, Boston; Jeff Carter, Los Angeles; Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh; Matt Duchene, Colorado; Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim; Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh; Patrick Marleau, San Jose; Rick Nash, N.Y. Rangers; Corey Perry, Anaheim; Patrick Sharp, Chicago; Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay; John Tavares, N.Y. Islanders; and Jonathan Toews, Chicago.
Watching local pee wee children indulge in such contests is more entertaining. For adults to be skating around in a similar type game means the NHL better find a way to convince the Players’ Association to get out of the 2018 Games in Pyongchang, North Korea.
Impossible? Not in the least.
Baseball paid its way out of the Summer Games in lieu of the World Cup of Baseball, something baseball controlled – and profited from. Hockey’s hierarchy needs to do the same.
As for the women’s Olympic tournament, yes, I still have a crush on Cammi Granato (Team USA captain in 1998).
Offshore, Canada is the favorite at -118, the USA is Even, followed by Sweden (20-1) and Switzerland (50-1).
Post Sochi: Following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, teams that played closer (and more often) at home seemed to possess a slight statistical advantage. However, the linemakers know this too, and should make the appropriate adjustment.
Thus, selecting the proper road team should give the bettor a slightly better reward. So who should we look toward?
Buffalo is at home for three against better teams, so Carolina, Boston and San Jose will receive my first looks.
Detroit opens with three post-Olympic road games, all winnable against Montreal, Ottawa and New Jersey. And with the Wings slowly getting healthy, they will get a stronger look.
Same with Tampa Bay with its series of four on the road (Nashville, Dallas, Colorado and St. Louis). Plus, the Lightning are one of the few Eastern Conference teams finding success against the West.
However, the five-game road-swing (in just eight days) by Toronto is daunting: Buffalo, Dallas, then the Death Triangle of California (L.A., Anaheim and San Jose). Sounds like an initial look to the UNDER.
Vancouver, losers of six straight, desperately need to start fast with three straight at home. If not, the Canucks playoff drive may quickly falter. This club needs to stay close to the Top 8 for as long as possible because they close the season with 6-of-7 at home.
Contact Nick at [email protected].