Takeaways: Predictably Unpredictable

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

In no other context but that of men's ice hockey, these Olympics have lived up to the hype. Perhaps the best storyline is the uphill battle Russia will have to fight to stay alive.

1. Michael Grabner leads the Olympic tournament in goal scoring with five. Yes, Michael Grabner. The Austrian. His team will play a Slovenian team that made headlines by upsetting Slovakia in the preliminary round, and the winner of that game will play the Swedish powerhouse and popular Gold Medal pick that made headlines by almost losing to Switzerland (who was playing without early MVP contender Jonas Hiller). What's my point here? The hockey world is no longer (if it ever was) divided into countries that are good at the game and countries that aren't, and while Sweden is still the best bet to come out of that fray, it's far from a certainty.

2. To say the Russians are expected to beat the Norwegians in order to play the Finns, whom they are in turn expected to beat, would be an understatement. No team is under as much pressure as Pavel Datsyuk and his boys in red, but the hockey world knows what happens to those who underestimate Finland. Assuming Russia beats Norway, their next game is going to be a must-watch.

3. If all the favorites win, USA will play Canada in the semi-final, which is not what most people in our part of the world want to happen. Now that the Gold Medal game from Vancouver can't be recreated, how's this for a dream scenario for an American Ducks fan: Each of the top four teams win, then Finland beats Sweden and USA beats Canada. Canada beats Sweden for Bronze and USA tops Finland for Gold. No? Just playing around here, don't mind me.

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