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Olympic Hockey Betting News and Notes Wednesday, February 12

Olympic Hockey Betting News and Notes Wednesday, February 12

Wednesday's Olympic Hockey Cheat Sheet

Czech Republic vs. Sweden (-175)

The Czechs (+1300 to win gold) will be needled for being a bit long in the tooth, but Jaromir Jagr still has plenty in the tank and fellow 40-something Petr Nedved is eager to show NHL fans he's still in good shape despite being out of the league for several years. Milan Michalek and David Krejci will add to a potent Czech attack, while the blue-line boasts NHL talent in the form of Radko Gudas, Zbynek Michalek and Ladislav Smid. The netminding, once the domain of Dominik Hasek, is a major question mark as Ondrej Pavelec looks to extend his recent string of success with Winnipeg.

The Swedes (+550) come in as the team to beat in Group C, boasting a potent offense led by Daniel Sedin, Nicklas Backstrom, Gabriel Landeskog and Henrik Zetterberg. Sweden has the best offensive defenseman on the planet in Erik Karlsson, and he's certainly not alone; Oliver Ekman-Larsson has come into his own with the Phoenix Coyotes this season, while Jonathan Ericsson, Alexander Edler and Niklas Hjalmarsson provide some intriguing depth. The perennially solid Henrik Lundqvist will see the bulk of the action in goal, and he's one of the best on the planet when he's on.


* Sweden last won Olympic gold in Turin eight years ago, while the Czechs' only Olympic title came in Nagano in 1998.
* The two netminders behind Pavelec on the Czech depth chart - Jakub Kovar and Alexander Salak - have two NHL games between them.
* The teams last faced off in Olympic competition in the 2006 semifinals, won 7-3 by Sweden.
* Backstrom has the most points of any player on either team with 56 (11 goals, 45 assists).

Latvia vs. Switzerland (-667)

The Latvians (+50,000) aren't expected to pose a threat in Group C as they make their fifth appearance in the Olympic tournament. The Latvian roster is a who's-who of players not currently in the NHL; Buffalo Sabres rookie Zemgus Girgensons is the only one in the league, though several others - including defensemen Sandis Ozolinsh and Arturs Kulda and forwards Kaspars Daugavins and Janis Sprukts - have prior NHL experience. Latvia's best result is a ninth-place finish in 1932 and 2002 - and it will be hard-pressed to top that performance this time around.

The Swiss will no longer be able to sneak up on the upper echelon, thanks to a solid roster brimming with NHL-caliber players. The blue-line is particularly robust, with Vancouver's Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber, Nashville's Roman Josi and Philadelphia's Mark Streit leading the way. Goaltending shouldn't be a concern, with standout Anaheim netminder Jonas Hiller drawing starting duties ahead of Calgary's Reto Berra. Scoring could be a problem for the Swiss, however, with Damien Brunner of New Jersey and Nino Niederreiter of Minnesota the only established threats.


* Latvia finished 0-3 at the 2010 Games in Vancouver, getting outscored 19-4 in round-robin play en route to a 12th-place finish.
* Switzerland's best result in the last 30 years is a sixth-place finish in 2006 - one spot higher than defending-champion Canada.
* Eight members of the Latvian team play for Dinamo Riga of the Continental Hockey League.
* Niederreiter has 11 goals and 18 assists in 59 games with the Wild this season.

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