There is only one question left — who will win?
As always, Team Canada is expected to win it all. As always, Team USA wants to do something about that but probably can’t. As always, Russia wants to become the world’s No. 1 in hockey again, but that probably won’t happen either. But what about the underdogs?
Last but not least, who will win the tournament?
As this tournament represents the thin edge of the wedge for ‘ads on sweaters’, advertising agencies, the NHL, the Player’s Union and the ghost of Don Draper are all winners. Also, Canada will win. And Finland will come third, cause they always come third.
I’m going to go off the board and say that Team North America is going to pull off the upset.
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Their forward group is ridiculously talented. Not only that, but it is probably the fastest hockey team ever assembled: Connor McDavid, Dylan Larkin, Johnny Gaudreau, Nathan MacKinnon…. that’s just not fair. They probably have the deepest center group in the tournament, except for Canada.
You might think an under-23 team would be thin on defense. But you’d be wrong. Aaron Ekblad is already one of the best. Shayne Gostisbehere will be an offensive sparkplug. North America’s D are strong and mobile, and should be more than capable of defending against the best forward groups in the world.
Between John Gibson and Matt Murray, they will have competent goaltending. A team this deep won’t need their goaltender to be a game-saver. They’ll just need him to be solid.
I’m picking them to win partly because they will be exciting to watch regardless of outcome. But also partly because of the Pittsburgh Penguins. They just won the Cup because they were too fast for other teams to handle. They got to loose pucks quicker than other teams could. Team North America is made from the same mould. I think their talent and speed could easily overwhelm teams who simply can’t keep up for 60 minutes.
Veteran leadership be damned. The kids are going to bring this one home.
I truly believe in a lot of things Jeff claimed there but I think the difference maker between Canada and North America will be the goalies. Their goalies will certainly be competent and very solid but for all their offensive firepower — even offensive production from a talented blue line — they’ll have a tough time cracking Canada’s elite goaltending, regardless of who’s starting.
Speed is dangerous, however, and could prove overwhelming for most teams’ defenses. Babcock and co. will know all this going into any potential matchup with the young guns and therefore I have to believe he’ll craft a game plan to effectively shut down the speedy N.A. players. The versatility and defensively sound aspects of the several two-way forwards Canada has in their lineup, not to mention the intelligent D-men who know what angles to take players at and aren’t without speed of their own, have me picking Canada.
I definitely expect Canada to win. They always win. Plus, they’re easily the best team on paper.
But Jeff’s writeup really makes you believe Team North America has a chance. As to Connor’s goalie concern, Matt Murray just led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup — he clearly has the talent and couldn’t be more confident right now.
However, I want to finish this roundtable with a bold prediction. After bashing Team Europe this entire time, I’m going to stick with my heritage, go completely off the board and say EUROPE WINS IT ALL!