(Editor's note: Please join us at 2:45 EST as we hold a live chat during the USA-Switzerland game, and then again at 7:15 EST for the Canada-Norway game. A regular live blog will take place during all non-USA/Canada games throughout the tournament.)
It's finally here. After all the buildup since the 2006 Games in Torino, Olympic hockey is back, and over the next two weeks, we'll be privileged to take a break from the NHL season and watch the best-on-best competition.
Like everyone else around the world, the Puck Daddy staff made predictions for the tournament, and as you'll see, our Russian and Canadian contributors are quite the homers. After the jump, our gold, silver, bronze, and fourth-place predictions.
Greg Wyshynski, Editor, Y! Sports Puck Daddy blog
Gold: SwedenSilver: Canada
I had to make a prediction on The Score, and I said "Sweden." I'm not sure why. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the Sedins on home ice but without the Canadian pressure; Lidstrom on the blue line; Franzen in the lineup and King Henrik between the pipes. So Sweden. OK then.
Sean Leahy, Associate Editor, Y! Sports Puck Daddy blog
Canada's not going to lose out on gold because they succumbed to the pressure of playing on home soil. What will befall them is the superpower that is Russia. There's nothing those players on that roster want to do more than defend a gold medal in 2014 in Sochi (Bettman be damned!). It also helps that Alex Ovechkin(notes) is part cyborg, sent to Vancouver to destroy all opposition. Team USA will be scrappy – maybe an upset or two early on – but in the end, stronger, more skilled opposition will bump them off.
Dmitry Chesnokov, Puck Daddy writer
Russia, because I think that in such a short tournament offense is the most important part of the game. Sure, defense wins Cups, but offense can win a one-game series. And this is what the Olympic hockey tournament is. Moreover, the pressure on Canada will be enormous. If Russia and Canada meet in the final, it will be a repeat of the 1988 final in Calgary. The Soviet Union won that year. And I think its successor, Russia, will triumph again.
Ryan Lambert, "What We Learned" and "NCAA 101" columnist
I just think Russia's so talented upfront and in goal that it makes up for the deficiency in defense. Look at the Russian power play. Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Semin, Gonchar, Datsyuk, and several other ultra-talented players whose names end in -ov. If you take a penalty against Russia, it is incredibly likely that you will give up a goal less than two minutes later.
Dobber, fantasy hockey columnist
I don't believe the Canadian boys will accept losing on home soil. The deepest team in the tourney will grind it out over a skilled and elite Russian squad. The United States is icing a very underrated team and not only do I think they'll win bronze, but they'll come very close to upsetting in the semifinal and going for gold
Lyle Richardson, rumors chat contributor