So we finally have all 12 rosters for the Olympics. Below is my opinion of the rosters that were announced Dec. 30 and Jan. 1.
The Swiss will not win a medal unless they really get going offensively. The other teams have just too much skill and certainly plenty of will to match. The strength of this team will be goaltending, which means they could upset someone's chances for Gold. Martin Gerber and Jonas Hiller will be a decent 1-2 punch for the only Olympic roster with players from the 2010 World Junior Championships.
While the Swiss have great goaltending to carry them to a possible upset, the Germans will have to settle for a little luck. Thomas Greiss is expected to be the starter in net, and he hasn't really proven himself reliable in the net this year. In his defense, he has put up a .916 save percentage to counter his 4-3 record and 2.64 goals against average, but the team in front of him in February will not have anything near the talent of Greiss' San Jose Sharks (especially since he couldn't convince Heatley to join him).
After acting like a child (just personal opinion) the crybaby Miika Kiprusoff should not have been included on Finland's roster. But with or without him the Finns will have to settle for having only the second-best goaltending in the Olympics (darn those Canadians and their depth). Plenty of speed and skill up front, but the question I have is how they will perform when it comes time to get physical. I have no questions about Miko and Saku Koivu or Tuomo and Jaarko Ruutuu, but the rest of the team seems to be built more for speed and playmaking than for grinding down the opponent. How will they handle rosters like the US and Canada that are built as much for grit as for scoring? I think the Finns are sitting just outside the podium in perfect position if they get hot or another team gets cold.
Jaromir Jagr leads a decent roster in his fourth Olympics. Jagr is the only player remaining from the 1998 Nagano games, but this year will be far different from that one. The Czechs will be relying on Tomas Vokoun and Ondrej Pavelec between the pipes. Solid netminding, sure, but it's not Dominic Hasek. Overall I do not think the Czechs will win, but that could change quickly if someone gets upset early in the tournament.
On paper, this is the best team in the Olympics. Martin Brodeur will likely be the number one guy between the pipes, but if he gets shakey Mike Babcock and his staff can quickly switch to Marc-Andre Fleury (arguably the best goaltender in the NHL moving laterally in the butterly) or Roberto Luongo. Defensively the Canadians are as good or better than the Swedes. My big question is who plays with Dan Boyle? The other two pairings should be spoken for (Scott Niedermayer-Chris Pronger, Duncan Keith-Brent Seabrook). Up front Canada can just roll four lines all game long with no hesitation. With a top line of Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash followed by a second line of Joe Thornton, Heatley and Patrick Marleau the scoring should be easy enough. Can they shut guys down when necessary is my one question. Eric Staal is not a shut-down player. Mike Richards can play that roll very well, but in my opinion it was a mistake to include Staal over brother Jordan who is quickly becoming one of the best shutdown centers in the league. This team is a great team, but I don't see a single defensive-minded forward on the roster. How will they shut down Russia?
I'm not expecting Gold from my home country. That being said I would still put the US group in the top four in the tournament. Solid goaltending goes far in the Olympics, and Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick have been exactly that this season. A bruising blue-line and some true grinders up front will allow the US to compete with anyone. My question for the US is size. This roster is not a big up front as we expected from Brian Burke. How will their top lines handle larger opponents? That will be the test of this team and if they can prove they're up to it in the preliminary round they will be a team to watch in the medal round. They don't need someone to stumble to win Gold, but they will need to get on a roll. Great time for it since February marks the 30th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice and the 50th anniversary of the "Forgotten Miracle."