Of course we love the NHL and the Stanley Cup is what we look forward to each and every year. With that said, how awesome is it to root on your country in the Olympics every four years? Well...this year - as many of you know - we don't have to wait for the Olympics, because we have the first World Cup of Hockey in 12 years!
This year's tournament is a little different as it features a Team Europe and a Team North America made up of the best U-23 players across the USA and Canada. Should be very interesting as the USA/Canada rivalry could be one of the biggest in sports, but this year the youngsters will have to join forces to show that they aren't just the future, they're a force to be reckoned with.
It may be a little bit early, but I decided that it was time to give some early predictions on how this tournament might end up.
Group A: USA, Europe, Canada and Czech Republic
It would seem as though they question for Group A isn't so much which two teams will move on, but more of in which order. Although the Czechs aren't to be scoffed at, we can almost surely bet that the USA and Canada will advance. Given the fact that Canada seems to start slowly in international tournaments, I am going to say USA takes first place while Canada takes second. The Americans will edge out the Canadians 3-1 in their game.
Group B: Finland, Russia, North America U-23, Sweden
This group is much more interesting. We have no idea how the young North Americans are going to play. Speed does kill and these guys will be playing with house money. There isn't a whole lot expected of them and the talent is pretty insane. Personally I feel like Sweden should easily take the number one spot in this group, but the second spot is kind of a tossup. Believe it or not, I am actually going to go out on a limb and pick the North American U-23's to advance in the second spot.
Semi Final 1: USA vs. North America
If it does play out this way, I feel like it's going to be a win/win for American fans. Of course we'll be cheering on the USA, but knowing that the underdog Team North America would be moving onto the final with some of our brighter prospects, this game would just be a lot of fun. My prediction would be USA winning 5-2.
Semi Final 2: Sweden vs. Canada
Canada would be licking their chops to get another shot at their rivals and although Sweden is still strong, Canada is stronger. My guess is that Canada would win this one wire to wire 3-0.
The Final (3 game series): USA vs. Canada
It's what we dream about, a three game series between USA and Canada, quite possibly the biggest rivalry in the sport and one of the biggest in all sports. This series will go the distance with Canada winning game 1. After that...USA wins game 2. As for game 3? One of these teams will win. (See what I did there?)
Let us know what you think!