Today is the start of the World Cup of Hockey. I’ll be down in Sunrise watching the Lightning prospects taking on prospects from Washington, Nashville, and host Florida. But I still plan to catch World Cup games whenever I can this weekend. In the meantime, I gathered a couple people together, J (Twitter) and Saima (Twitter), to help me give some predictions for the World Cup of Hockey.

J’s Predictions

Group A
Canada
Czech Republic
USA
Europe
Every hockey tournament is Canada’s to lose, right? And I think the Czech’s can overcome their somewhat weak defense enough to get past the US (although that might be due to my belief that you can’t grind your way to the top) and Europe.

Group B
Sweden
Russia
North America
Finland
I really want to give North America a spot here. But I think Sweden and Russia will be able to win close games, and that’s what will come out of this group.

Semifinals
Canada over Russia
Sweden over Czech Republic

Canada will find a way to win. It just doesn’t matter what happens. I haven’t seen what I wanted to from Sweden in pre-tournament play. Picking them over Russia might be less about confidence in Sweden and more about the fact that I’m so used to Ovechkin’s disappointment face.

Finals
Canada over Sweden, 2-1

In every position (especially center), Canada is the most talented and versatile team. It’s a shame that a win here will vindicate the team’s management for not selecting PK Subban.

Saima’s Predictions

Group A
Canada
USA
Czech Republic
Europe

Group A features Canada, Czech Republic, Europe, & USA. Writing that sentence makes me feel like I’m bad at geography because a continent is randomly thrown in with a bunch of countries, but Team Europe is a real (novelty) team in this tournament. The good news is they have Kopitar & Halak. The bad news is they have an old sloth named Chara. They’re my pick to finish in the bottom of this group. On the other hand, you’ve got a complete juggernaut in Team Canada. Their lines are so stacked that Stamkos is a second/third line RW. Their blue line is impressive and they’re solid in goal. No real weaknesses at all – this is Canada’s tournament to lose.

Team Czech Republic is an okay team with a very good Mrazek. Palat’s been displaying his usual, impressive 2-way play that makes him so beloved here in Tampa. Sustr… has his moments. Tortorella’s Army of Thugs, also known as Team USA, is my least favorite team in this entire tournament. I hate that the roster is built on brute force instead of skill. Yes, I love Ben Bishop and want him to succeed, but it’s not like he’s going to get any playing time. Canada wins this group and USA advances as the second seed.

Group B
Sweden
Russia
North America
Finland

Group B is Finland, North America, Russia, and Sweden. Yes, another continent mixed in with a group of countries. Finland is a decent team. Filppula is getting a lot of ice time so the team is very skilled at passing – not so much with the scoring though. Team North America (the Young Guns) looks like an amazing junior hockey team. It’s a bunch of speedy kids with impressive offense who turnover the puck way too often. They are so much fun to watch though.

Team Russia’s forwards are incredible and their top line features our very own (still-unsigned) Kucherov. They insist on running 5 man units which may make it easy to study their systems and take advantage of their weaknesses. Sweden’s my favorite team in this group, although my opinion is very biased because I love Anton Stralman. He’s a wonderful underappreciated defenseman and perfect human being. Those are the facts. Sweden’s strength is the blue line, which can also generate considerable offense. I’ve got Sweden coming out on top of this group, followed by Russia.

Semifinals
Canada over Russia
Sweden over USA

Finals
Canada over Sweden, 2-1

The World Cup of Hockey has already been much more entertaining than I ever expected. With Lightning players on every team (except Team Europe), the games provide a pleasant distraction from the reality that Kucherov isn’t signed yet (please Stevie Y, for the sake of the collective sanity of Bolts Nation, get this done soon). Oh right, this is supposed to be about the World Cup of Hockey… Canada defeats Sweden to win that hideous trophy that nobody actually wants.

GeoFitz4’s Predictions

Group A
Canada
Czech Republic
USA
Europe

Canada is so loaded from top to bottom. There really isn’t a weak link. I actually don’t think the Czech Republic is a very strong team, but I think they’ve taken the underdog role to heart and will come out and surprise some people. Their defense is a bit suspect, but they have some good forwards and a good goaltender in Petr Mrazek. While the USA is my home, it’s hard for me to root for this team. So many players that I just can’t stand and I really don’t like how this team was constructed. They do seem to have bought in to what Torts wants them to do. I just can’t see them maintaining it and I wouldn’t be surprised if they got swept and finished last either. Team Europe has so many holes and is an old team. They just can’t keep up.

Group B
Russia
North America
Finland
Sweden

Russia is loaded with forward talent and I think it will carry them through even though their defense is a little on the weak side. North America has so much skill and speed going for them. As long as Murray plays the way he did in the playoffs, North America can make some noise. Finland is better than a lot of people give them credit for. They play a structured game and have just enough skill to score a few goals. They’re not spectacular at any position, but no position is just outright bad either. Sweden has been lack-luster in the pre-tournament. I feel bad about this prediction though and I hope they prove me wrong for Hedman and Stralman. But I just think they’re not coming together very well. There’s a lot of blue line talent and some forward talent there, but Lundvist has been shaky and their options behind him aren’t great. I also don’t think their forward skill is particularly deep and follows off steeply after the first two lines, at least compared to other teams in the tournament.

Semifinals
North America over Canada
Russia over Czech Republic

Finals
Russia over North America, 2-1

So I’m going bold in my prediction here. Anything can happen when you’re talking about a one game playoff. All it takes is Matt Murray out dueling Carey Price for 60 minutes. I think it can happen. I think North America has the potential to use their speed to beat Canada. But in a three game series, I’m going to give the edge to Russia.

There you have it. Our predictions for the World Cup. We hope you enjoy the games!

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