-Russia's defensive pairings are rubbish, and inconsistant in my opinion... Only Gonchar, Tyutin, and Markov are truely top line NHL talent... and none of which have been that consistent this year. Grebeshkov and Volchenkov are definitely serviceable, but I dont see how guys like them are going to take down the punishing offenses of Canada, Sweden, the Czechs or even the USA. The other guys all play in the KHL, and though they're definitely quality players, they are going to have a rough awakening on NHL ice where physical play in tight quarters is going to win medals. They have a very good offense, in Datsuyk, Kovalchuck, Ovechkin, Malkin, Afenigenov, and Semin. But other than that? They consist of old players and KHL players. Federov, Kozlov, and Morozov are shells of their former selves, and the rest are just strong KHL threats.
Yes, Russia has a very talented Nabokov in goal, but Nabokov doesnt do well if he doesnt have a really consistant defense. I see him night in and night out in San Jose, and trust me, for all the amazing plays he makes and shot totals he gets thrown at him, He's no better than any other top goalie out there - especially guys like Brodeur, Luongo, Ryan MIller, and Kipprusoff. Ilya Bryzgalov has been good this year, but I dont see him starting much. Varlamov is in there just in case... but I dont see him getting ice time unless russia is beating up on other squads in the 3rd period.
Russia will put up the points, and definitely make it far into the tournament, but I dont see them winning it all... Too many holes and too many players who dont play a physical enough game in tight quarters - This is NHL ice, and the north americans are much more familiar with it.
-Canada has all the firepower and defensive power you need, as well as experience and grit throughout the whole lineup.
In goal, their third goaltender (Mark-Andre Fluery) can start for anyone as it is, but Luongo and Brodeur? Those guys are going to keep Canada going for a while. Luongo is already a better tender than almost any other team that doesnt have Kipprusoff. Plus, Broduer has tons of international and big game experience - he's the best goalie of all time and that's pretty hard to argue against, even if you bring up Dom Hasek's name...
Canada's offensive lines? Holy shit. Their third and 4th line pairings contain names like Toews, Staal, Mike Richards, Getzlaf, Morrow, Patrice Bergeron, and Corey Perry. Other teams, including the likes of even Russia would DROOL for that talent on their FIRST TWO lines... Not to mention, the defensive capabilities, physical play, and size of those guys. They will not only beat the shit out of you so you cant score, but they WILL score on you and score BIG.
The Canadian Defense... Neidermeyer, and Pronger as your first line pairing? holy shit. The skill, experience, defensive capabilities and ability to quarterback plays those two have is incredible. Plus, they played with each other in Anaheim, as well as on the canadian team for quite a few years, so they arent exactly newbies as a pairing. Having seen what they could do for all those years being a Sharks fan? Lets just say, those two are the biggest reason I hate Anaheim - they're SO good and they fuck your shit up all day long.
Then you have guys like Boyle, and Weber.. A shutdown defensive motherfucker in Weber, and a quarterbacking genius in Boyle - whos part of the big reason why the Thornton - Marleau - Heatley line in San Jose has those 3 in the top 10 of NHL scoring leaders this year. Seabrook and Keith have been awesome in Chicago this year, and Drew Doughty has become a pretty annoyingly good player in LA - especially for my Sharks.
Canada has way more youth than Russia, way more talent throughout the whole team, and is much better on the NHL size ice we have this year. Home gold for Canada in hockey? FUCK YES! Go Sharks and Go Canada!
Got the NS love bug.