The Winter Olympics; a time where the best athletes in the world compete against each other.
Starting today, Red Wings 101 will bring you recaps from Men's Hockey action in Sochi, Russia, as there will be plenty of representation by the Red Wings at the games.
First off, let's break down who is playing where.
Jimmy Howard is the only Red Wing playing for the United States. It remains unclear if he will see any action between the pipes, as Buffalo's Ryan Miller looks like the favorite to start in goal. Howard will likely have to battle L.A.'s Jonathan Quick for backup duty.
Mike Babcock will be the man behind the bench for the defending gold medal winners. He also led Canada to gold in the 2010 games. Ken Holland is also one of the general managers. Canada may have the best group of forwards out of all nations, at least on paper.
The Red Wings will have the most representation here, with forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, and Gustav Nyquist; defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson; and goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
Zetterberg will serve as team captain, as well as center the top line. Nyquist and Alfredsson will likely play together on the third line. The defensive pairings aren't set yet, but don't be surprised if Kronwall and Ericsson are together.
New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist will start in net, which likely means Gustavsson will ride the bench. The other goaltender is Buffalo's backup Jhonas Enroth.
Pavel Datsyuk will captain Russia. However, his playing status has been in doubt, as he has reportedly been dealing with a sore groin. Indications are that Datsyuk plans on playing. Russia is also stacked at the forward spot.
Game Schedule (NOTE: These are games featuring Red Wings Players/Coaches; all times eastern)
Sweden will take on the Czech Republic on Wednesday (Noon, USA Network) to open up group play.
Thursday will have the following games:
- Russia vs. Slovenia (7:30 a.m, MSNBC)
- USA vs. Slovakia (7:30 a.m, NBC Sports Network)
- Canada vs. Norway (Noon, USA Network)
Friday will feature…
- Sweden vs. Switzerland (7:30 a.m, NBC Sports Network)
- Canada vs. Austria (Noon, USA Network)
Saturday will be a full day with the following games:
- Slovakia vs. Slovenia (3:00 a.m, NBC Sports Network)
- USA vs. Russia (7:30 a.m, NBC Sports Network)
- Sweden vs. Latvia (Noon, USA Network)
Group play will conclude on Sunday with these games:
- Russia vs. Slovakia (7:30 a.m, USA Network)
- Slovenia vs. USA (7:30 a.m, NBC Sports Network)
- Finland vs. Canada (Noon, USA Network)
Best Bets for Medal
- Russia (Hard to beat a nation playing on their home turf)
- Sweden (This is the most balanced team)
- Canada (Defending gold winner. Need I say more?)
- Slovakia (Most underrated team)
- Finland (Goaltending could help them sneak into a medal game)
- USA (Defense wins championships, but can it win a medal?)
This is probably one of the more wide open Olympic fields that I have ever seen. Any of the aforementioned could win gold. However, there can only be one gold medal winner.
- Gold: Sweden
- Silver: Canada
- Bronze: Russia
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