Last Year – Russia held on to defeat Canada in a wild semi-final, but were outlasted by Sweden in the Gold Medal game by a score of 1-0. Russia lost only 2 games in the tournament, both to the Swedes.
# Returnees – 9 (expected) – Andrei Makarov, Andrei Vasilevski, Mikhail Naumenkov, Nikita Nesterov, Artyom Sergeyev, Mikhail Grigorengo, Alexander Khokhlachev, Yaroslav Kosov, Nail Yakupov,
Key Players – Yakupov and Grigorenko will be forces up front, while both goaltenders will be returning. Both netminders had flashes of brilliance at different times, and their presence will be a distinct advantage for the Russians.
Watch For – The top 3 draft-eligible forwards (Vlaeri Nichushkin, Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev) will be on the roster. All are well over 6 feet tall and close to 200 lbs. They will provide excellent support for the big guns.
Prediction – Boosted by the home-country fans for the first time since 2001, the Russians will be looking to improve on the silver medal they took home last year. They are a deep squad, and the odds of them winning the gold will increase if they can beat Canada in the round robin game and get the bye to the semi-finals and the extra day of rest. Definitely a medal threat, and if all things were equal, it should be a Canada-Russia showdown for Gold.