Unlike the women's bracket; there's actually a competition taking place on the men's side. The NHL-ice surface may give a slight advantage to the Canadians and Americans.
There is so much offensive firepower from teams #1-#7 that staying off the penalty kill will be important for every team. Imagine a Kovalchuk-Malkin-Ovechkin-Datsyuk-Gonchar Power Play....WHOA!
Eight of the twelve countries have NHL starting goaltenders. Any of them are capable of stealing a game. Once the tournament reaches the quarterfinals and becomes single-elimination; their could be some huge upsets.
And without further adieu; my predictions for Men's Ice Hockey at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games.
GOLD: CANADA- No country can match Canada's depth at every position. With the games in Vancouver; too much is on the line for this team to fail.
SILVER: RUSSIA- The trio of Ovechkin, Malkin and Kovalchuk should be electric but Russia's selection of nine KHL players may end up being costly.
BRONZE: SWEDEN- Sweden's gold medal performance in Torino was no fluke; they'll challenge for Gold.
4. United States- The NHL-size ice surface will help the American's defense ability to match up against the best forwards in the world but they'll be overmatched.
5. Finland- Finland won every game until the Gold Medal match in Torino; Kiprusoff could easily take them to the top.
6. Czech Republic- The Czechs have a ton of depth but if all goes well they'll get a tough draw with Sweden in the Quarterfinals.
7. Slovakia- Halak faces a ton of shots in net for the Habs but he hasn't seen anything yet.
8. Switzerland- Hiller in goal is enough to give them the edge over the Germans.
9. Germany- Ever wondered what happened to former Kings John Tripp, Jason Holland and Chris Schmidt? Yup, they're representing Germany. All Canadian-born playing in the DEL. (edit: Jason Holland has been removed from the roster)
10. Belarus- Injuries have taken away two of their four NHLers out of the Olympics.
11. Norway- Poor Norway.12. Latvia- How bad is Raitis Ivanans that he didn't get selected for the squad? According to Kuklas Korner, Ivanans is the worst player in the NHL. No argument here.