Russia favourites to win hockey gold in Sochi

Alex Ovechkin is expected to lead Team Russia at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. (AP/Chris O'Meara)

Canada traditionally picks its Olympic hockey team under pressure as favourites to win the gold medal.

But Team Canada can go about its business without that stress this week. That early expectation – and honour – goes to the host Russians, who were made an early 11/5 favourite in the 2014 Olympic hockey betting lines, which were released Thursday morning.

Canada is the second choice at 9/4, while oddsmaker Bodog made Sweden the third betting choice at 4/1. The Americans, overtime losers four years ago courtesy of Sidney Crosby’s golden goal, are 6/1 to win at Sochi.

“There is a bit of home-ice advantage in that line and I think if the Olympics were anywhere else, Canada would be the chalk,” said Jack Randall of “The bigger ice surface always presents challenges for North American players and it will dictate how teams are picked as well.”

Indeed, the composition of the team will be dictated by 2013 regular-season and past performance. Some players are locks, while competition is wide open at other positions. That competition sparked a few other Olympic hockey props this week as well.

Carey Price was installed as the favourite to be Canada’s Game 1 starting goalie. Roberto Luongo is a close second betting choice, which is interesting given that he has yet to kiss and make up with Canucks management over his trade saga.

“Underdog bettors look at Corey Crawford’s impeccable regular season and Stanley Cup victory and wonder aloud if he isn’t the favourite to start,” said Randall.

Edmonton Oiler teammates Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are both favoured to make the team. Ditto Patrice Bergeron, whose heroic playoff performance and status as a returning player from 2010 make him a solid favourite.

The odds are against reigning Art Ross winner Martin St. Louis, Blackhawk workhorse Patrick Sharp and talented Hurricane pivot Jordan Staal making the team.

Rounding out the gold medal odds, the Czech Republic is a 17/2 shot on the strength of five world championship crowns since 1999. Finland is 10/1 and with a choice of Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, Antti Niemi and Nik Backstrom in net, the Finns could pitch a tournament shutout.

Fans who think Slovenia can ride Anze Kopitar to the gold medal can get longshot odds of 900/1 today. Ditto if you think Thomas Vanek can lead a roster of little-known Austrians to a new Miracle on Ice.

Below is a full list of 2014 Olympic hockey odds courtesy of Bodog and here’s a list of prop bets to consider:

Russia : 11/5

Canada : 9/4

Sweden : 4/1

USA : 6/1

Czech Republic: 17/2

Finland : 10/1

Switzerland : 20/1

Slovakia : 25/1

Norway : 200/1

Latvia : 400/1

Austria : 900/1

Slovenia : 900/1

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