Hockey World Cup Betting: Canada Favorites Going into WC Semis

Hockey World Cup Betting Canada Favorites Going into WC Semis

The World Cup of Hockey’s final four takes place this weekend, with Canada facing Russia on Saturday evening and Sweden facing Team Europe on Sunday afternoon. After opening at -110 in July, Canada is now a -250 favorite to win the tournament. Sweden is the next best bet, with odds of +400.

The storylines in the Canada-Russia game revolve primarily around Sidney Crosby’s rivalry with — and dominance over — Alex Ovechkin, as well as his Penguins teammate Evgeni Malkin. The last time these two teams met in a best-on-best format was in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Winter Olympics, when Canada defeated Russia 7-3. Canada has won gold in the last two Olympics, while Russia has failed to finish on the podium in both. Canada has scored 14 goals, the most in the World Cup, while allowing only three. Russia has been much more competitive, scoring eight goals and allowing five.

Sweden vs. Europe appears to be a closer match, but Sweden appears to be the more cohesive unit. Sweden’s best have excelled in international competition over the last decade, winning an Olympic silver medal in 2014 and a gold medal in 2006. So far, each team has scored seven goals in three tournament games. When World Cup odds were first released, Team Europe was the biggest long shot at +3300.

Here are the tournament odds as of Friday, and keep an eye out for more detailed game previews this weekend:

Hockey Team Odds to Win the 2016 World Cup

Team Europe+1000

OKBET odds as of September 23

There hasn’t been much line movement since I last wrote about the World Cup of Hockey futures, but with preliminary games beginning today, I thought it might be useful to update you on some more reasons why this is Canada’s tournament to lose.

Carey Price has been named Canada’s No. 1 goalie by Mike Babcock, and their win line is now -105 at BetOnline. Price was fully healthy for a best-against-best international competition in 2014, when he led Canada to a gold medal with a.971 save percentage and 0.59 goals-against average in Sochi.

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Price’s health may still be in doubt, despite his claim that his knee is 100%. Price’s games will be limited this year, according to Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien, but that could simply mean he won’t play 66 games like he did in his 2014-15 MVP season.

While all of the teams in the competition have some impressive line combinations, Canada’s four lines are all loaded with NHL stars. Couture-O’Reilly-Toews, Marchand-Crosby-Bergeron, Stamkos-Getzlaf-Tavares, and Duchene-Thornton-Giroux are all possible line combinations right now. Oh my goodness.

The Russians have the best odds at +500, but their lack of recent success in best-on-best tournaments like the Olympics is astounding, as they haven’t medaled since 2002. The Russian hockey program has received a lot of criticism for not adapting their style of play to their competition and for their coaching staff’s lack of creativity.

Since July, the only significant line changes we’ve seen are Finland moving from +1400 to +1100 and Team North America moving from +2000 to +1200. I intend to watch every Team North America game because they promise to be some of the most exciting. The under-23s are going to fly around the ice and produce some top-tier highlights, so if you want to go for a wild ride, bet on them.

Hockey Team Odds to Win the 2016 World Cup

North America U23+1200
Czech Republic+2500
Team Europe+3300

OKBET odds as of September 8th

The rosters for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey have been finalized, and Canada is the early favorite. Whatever your feelings are about the NHL-sanctioned tournament, there are some intriguing storylines, including the North American team, which opened with the same odds to win as the Czechs without Jagr.

Canada opened at -110 at online sportsbook BetOnline, and it’s easy to see why with a roster that includes four former first-round picks, three Hart Trophy winners, a Vezina winner, and a group of dynamic defensemen with two combined Norris Trophies. To be fair to other teams, competing with a country that represents just under half of the NHL talent is difficult.

Team North America (TNA) features rising stars such as Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, and Matt Murray. TNA will be an interesting watch if nothing else, and at +2000, they could be a fun bet.

The Americans (+600) were penalized by bookmakers for making some questionable roster decisions, the most egregious of which was leaving Phil Kessel out of a group of forwards that included Justin Abdelkader, Brandon Dubinsky, and James van Riemsdyk. Were Dean Lombardi and Brian Burke aware of a salary cap?

Finland has produced some of the best players in the world in recent years and will provide excellent value as dark horses at +1400. The 2016 IIHF World Championship, in which Finland finished runner-up to Canada, served as a coming-of-age celebration for the Finns, with projected second overall pick Patrik Laine finishing fourth in scoring with seven goals and five assists.

Russia (+400) and Sweden (+500), both of which have some of the best players in the world on their rosters, should be able to give the Canadians a run for their money and could be considered value bets.

The Russians thrashed the USA 7-2 in the World Championship bronze medal game this year and have historically given Canada some trouble in international competition.

Hockey Team Odds to Win the 2016 World Cup

North America U23+2000
The Czech Republic+2000
Team Europe+3300
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