Olympic Bet of the Day – Wow, that was frustrating. I won the first three legs of my parlay, and after two periods of the hockey game Slovakia was up 3-1 and cruising. The reason I picked them in the game was because they closed so strong against Canada, while Finland collapsed under pressure. Contrary to logic, then, it was Finland who mounted a rally – four goals in the third – while Slovakia collapsed and felt sorry for themselves. Ah well, clearly not meant to be. That means that I am now down $280 over the games. There’s only one bet to make today – Canada to win the gold medal. They are -127 to win in regulation. I’ll bet $357 on the game – that way I’ll profit $281, and at least make a profit on the two weeks.
The Other Stuff
I know that most of you reading this are Americans. For all of you that are I have some bad news – you are going to lose the hockey game today. Here are ten good reasons:
1. Miller – Ryan Miller has been fantastic in net for the Americans, and he is entirely the reason why Canada lost the first meeting. There is no reason to expect a total collapse by any means, but it is very hard for a goalie to be very good against a team twice in a short time – especially when the team is as talented as Canada is.
2. Defense – Canada had a bad defensive outing on Sunday against the Americans. They were much better against Russia and most of the Slovakia game, and there is certainly reason to believe that they will be better in this game as well. The Americans don’t have the offense to match up against the Canadian defense if it is sharp, and it will be.
3. Chemistry – It took until the Germany game for the Canadians to find line combinations that could work for them. Now that they have they are moving the puck with more confidence and precision – as they showed against Russia. This is a different Canada than last time.
4. Canada was the better team last time – The Americans won, and they get full credit for that, but they were outplayed for much of the game. They were badly outshot, and much more of the action was in the American end. That was no fluke. The Americans benefited from good goaltending in their net and lousy goaltending in Canada’s. The imbalance will be the same again, so it’s unlikely that the Americans will get the breaks they need to come out on top again.
5. Home crowd – The entire country is in a frenzy, and it will only intensify leading up to the game. The building is going to be a absolute zoo. Canada is going to get a major boost from that.
6. Experience – A few Canadian players have a gold medal from Salt Lake. Several won World Junior Championships. They are very experienced at winning on the international stage. The Americans don’t have that kind of experience to draw from – they just haven’t won as much as Canada has over the years. Experience is going to count in this case.
7. Canada is on a roll – They won two gold medals on Friday and three more on Saturday. They have tied the all-time record for gold medals at a winter Olympics by any country, and they can beat it with a gold here. There is a serious sense of momentum surrounding the Canadian team, and the hockey team can’t help but feed off of that.
8. It matters more – For the Americans, this would be a nice win. For the Canadians this is a total obsession – one that has consumed the country since the humiliating seventh place finish in Turin. The team that wants it more always has an edge.
9. Talent – Talent matters, and Canada has much, much more of it it. There are some great Americans – Zach Parise is among the very best in the world, for example – but when it comes to depth there is no comparison. Canada’s tenth best player is five times the player that the tenth best American is.
10. Revenge – That loss last Sunday wasn’t pretty, and the Canadians didn’t like it. They have the relatively unique chance to get revenge so soon, and they’ll be well aware of that.