Hockey betting - Preview of Group B top prospects for the IIHF 2012 World Championships
Your hockey betting trigger finger is probably getting impatient. The World cup is soon upon us. You have hopefully enjoyed our previous article reviewing the 5-8th candidates of the Stockholm group (Group B). If you haven’t read it yet, you find it HERE. This article is all about the cream of the crop. Here we go through the very best this group has to offer, on paper that is. Let’s not waste more time. Here you are:
This is a team is all-round very strong. As usual they can’t be counted on for medals. They simply don’t have the player material for it. That said; they are fairly sure to get direct qualification to the Olympics in 2014 as they currently are ranked 8th in the world, and nine teams get the nod. The team is also way too good to fall into the relegation trap. In many ways, they don’t have much pressure and could put on a show.
Defensively they rely heavily on the form of ex-NHL player Dennis Endras of HIFK Helsinki. He is a very good goalie, and should have no problem anchoring the defense. Most of the players in defense are playing in the national league in Germany, but Justin Krueger (AHL) can add some north Atlantic physical play to the team. Christoph Schubert of the Hamburg Freezers should be mentioned here as a stand-out player. He will be very important for the Germans.
Of the forwards, Marcel Goc of Florida Panthers is the brightest star. His brother Nicolai is also in Team Germany. Marcel is a decent player capable of 20-30 points per season for his team in NHL so he will be closely watched by the opposition. He is backed up by German League giants Patrick Reimer, Philip Gogulla, and Thomas Greillinger.
Overall Germany is a solid team with plenty of quality. In order for them to take steps up to the very top they will need to have a couple more world beaters in the team. As we all know, these players are few and far between so perhaps Germany just simply is where they should be at in the Hockey world for now. Hockey betting wise we will not be too tempted to bet on- or against them until we see what mood they’re in. At the end of the day, their place will most likely be decided by the morale of the squad. Are they happy just to qualify for the Olympics? If yes, they might not get to the quarter finals. Latvia, Denmark or Norway might snub a place. Are they there to really go for the quarter finals? If yes, they most likely will have to overcome Latvia. Use the first match to determine the morale, and then move on any hockey betting opportunity from there if you find value.
The Czechs were champions in 2010, and they again field a good team. Alois Hadamczik, the head coach will however be a little worried over his defense. For now he does not have any NHL players with him patrolling the blueline. That said, there are plenty of excellent KHL players, so don’t think for a second the Czechs will have a poor defense. Jakub Stepanek of SKA, Petr Mrazek and Jakub Kovar are all young excellent goalies. Mrazek is the most gifted of the three, but Stepanek is more experienced even if he is only 25.
Miroslav Blatak , Petr Caslava, Lukas Krajicek , Ondrej Nemec and Jakub Nakladal are also solid names from the KHL that will be taking part in the defensive end. Perhaps there will be more support coming from the NHL playoffs come quarter final time. You should check this out so you don’t miss out on valuable info.
Offsenively the Czechs look very impressive in our opinion. Tomas Plecanec, of the Montreal Canadiens, Milan Michalek and David Krejeci are 50+ point men in NHL over a season, and they surely will put some fright in the opposing side. Ales Hemsky, of Edmonton Oilers, Michael Frolik of the Blackhawks and young rookie Tomas Vincour of Dallas Stars will surely also add quality to this team. Add to this a bunch of former NHL players like 40 year old Petr Nedved who represented Canada in the 94 Olympics. He now plays out of the Extraliga, but is a fantastic scorer still. They also got a couple of respectable KHL players coming in.
All in all, the defense is key to any success. Watch out in their first “big game”. If they struggle in the back, there is solid indication they won’t cut it against the very best. There is nothing wrong with their offense. On any given day they can win a game against any of the other top teams with players like this. If only their defense is solid enough. They also have both youth and experience in this squad. Things look pretty good for the Czechs we would say.
Former top defenseman Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is taking a fantastic team to Globen, there is no doubt.However, it doesn’t look like the rooster is completely set yet. The pre-rooster is missing some names one would expect to see. Oh well, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov knows best. After all he is paid good money to.
They bring solid keepers in Semyon Varlamov of Colorado Avalanche and Konstantin Barulin, of Atlant. Who will get most ice time of those two is a tough call for us, but if forced to say, we’d go for Barulin.
The rest of defense (as of now) is packed mainly with excellence from the KHL. Only Alexei Yemelin, of the Montreal Canadiens and Nikita Nikitin, of the Columbus Blue Jackets are included in the rooster as of now from the NHL. The head coach is probably thinking of bringing a more classic Russian style, that should fit the rinks in Sweden, but that is just speculation on our part.
Their attacking line up is much more impressive looking. In the center of the rink they got Pavel Datsyuk, of the Detroit Red Wings and Yevgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh Penguins. Malkin lined up 109 points this season for his team. Datsyuk 67. Those figures are impressive by any standard. Nikolai Kulyomin, of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Alexander Burmistrov, Winnipeg Jets are coming in from the NHL so far. The team also has a massive abundance of KHL talent present. One that should be mentioned is the young up and coming Yevgeni Kuznetsov of Traktor Chelyabinsk and Vadim Shipachyov of Severstal Cherepovets who had a great season and notched 59 points.
Russia will be up there if they are motivated. That has been a problem with the Russian sides some times. They have all this talent going forward, but their mind isn’t always in it. If the head coach can keep the squad on their toes, they can very well win the whole thing.
Be aware of Malkin and Datsyuk. If they don’t play Russia is weakened. Don’t get us wrong, they still have plenty of class, but they are impossible to replace. That is how good they are.
What a team the Swedes are fielding this time around. Head coach Pär Mårts has great depth in his squad with lots of excellence coming from the NHL as well as some fantastic players from Elitserien and the KHL. The scene is set for Sweden; at least until they got to travel to Helsinki for any semis. Globen will be on fire, and Sweden is the team to beat.
The keeper position should be occupied by Jhonas Enroth, a backup goalie for Buffalo Sabres. If the head coach wants someone who plays regularly, then Viktor Fasth, of AIK might get the nod.
The defensemen coming along are all top quality. Actually; Sweden look better by far in this department than any of the other teams in this group. Rock solid Erik Karlsson, of Ottawa Senators, Niklas Kronwall, of Detroit Red Wings, Niklas Hjalmarsson of the Blackhawks, Jonathan Ericsson, of Detroit Red Wings and Victor Hedman, of Tampa Bay Lightning are a massive group of defenders. Add to these younger brother of Niklas Kronwall, Staffan who is an ex-NHL player who now plays for Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL and a couple of top Elitserien players and you got wow factor.
The attacking line up is led by bright lights Henrik Zetterberg, Loui Eriksson and Johan Franzen who all are capable of setting Globen alight. Zetterberg and Franzen play together for the Red Wings, while Eriksson plays for Dallas Stars.
Add to these highly capable Daniel Alfredsson of Ottawa Senators, and youth sensation Gabriel Landeskog of Colorado Avalanche, as well as Marcus Krüger, Chicago Blackhawks, Jakob Silfverberg, Ottawa Senators and Viktor Stålberg, of the Blackhawks and you get your NHL fix in plenty.
Also look out for young Calle Järnkrok and Johan Larsson of Brynäs. Both are drafted for the NHL, and are excellent prospects for the future. Larsson was even Elitserien rookie of the year this season.
A couple of excellent KHL forwards are also included.
Overall we think Sweden has a clear edge due to home ground. The experienced and NHL rich squad should handle the pressure building up in Sweden with ease, and the young guns brought in to learn for the 2014 Olympics are in safe hands. Their defense also rocks. When they got such all-round class also on top (still not matching Russia though) it is hard to see them not be either first or second in this group.