My first hockey betting prediction didn’t go as I envisaged. My dark horses for the tournament Finland are already eliminated having lost their first two games. So I am seeking redemption in this match-up.
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The second semi-final has been decided, as Sweden and Team Europe will battle it out for a place in the final. Europe have exceeded expectations with convincing wins over the United States and the Czech Republic. Although they lost their last round robin game on Wednesday to Canada (4-1). Sweden finished top of the group of death, with their only defeat against North America.
Team Europe have surprised many with the chemistry that they have formulated in a short space of time. The team is represented by eight different countries that aren’t represented in the tournament as a country. Prior to the tournament, they were labelled as the weakest team and one of the critiques of the tournament for replacing an actual country. Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, the European team have justified their position in the competition.
Sweden, as per usual were one of the favourites for the World Cup. They will hope to end a sequence of near misses having finished second and third in the 2014 Olympics and World Championships respectively. As predicted Sweden’s defence and goaltending has been strong. Although starting goalie Henrik Lundqvist missed the first game due to illness.
Mats Zuccarello (Europe)
The diminutive Norwegian is the leading point scorer for the Europeans (3) and will hope to maintain his good form in the semi-final. Zuccarello had his career year for the New York Rangers last season and led the team with 61 points. He was also nominated for the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award for his perseverance having missed the majority of the 2014-15 playoffs.
Roman Josi (Europe)
One of the most underrated defenceman in the NHL. This ties in with the fact that he plays in the non-traditional hockey market of Nashville. The Swiss had another dominant year for the Predators and duly featured in the all-star game. Expect the Europeans to be reliant on him to move the puck forward consistently. He’ll also be hoping to score his first point of the competition.
Niklas Backstrom (Sweden)
The unassuming Swede is leading Tre Kronor with three points (1 goal, 2 assists). The centre was controversially suspended for the 2014 Winter Olympics final due to failing a drug test as he was using an allergy medication containing pseudoephedrine. The playmaker will be a major factor for the Swedes for the outcome of this game.
Gabriel Landeskog (Sweden)
In a one off game like this, Sweden will be hoping to see the grit and determination from Landeskog that has made him revered in the league. The Colorado Avalanche captain is one of the premier power forwards in the game at just 23 years of age. In September 2012, he became the youngest captain in NHL history and won the rookie of the year in the preceding year.
I don’t think either team will win by a blowout but I’m predicting a relatively low-scoring game with the final at stake. However, it’s worth noting that Europe beat Sweden 6-2 just over a week ago in an exhibition. I do believe that Sweden will just edge the Europeans and I’m backing them for over 4.5 goals at 1.73 with Eastbridge.
Prices correct at time of writing.