Sep 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Mark Streit (32) against the New York Rangers in the first period at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Switzerland

One of the best up-and-coming hockey programs  in the world belongs to Team Switzerland. In the last few international competitions, the Swiss have surprised people and have been challenging for medals in almost all of them. Back in 2010, the Swiss were a very difficult team to beat and they only lost in regulation twice, both to Team USA. Coming into the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, the Swiss boast more NHLers than they’ve ever had.

Up front, they only have two NHLers. Damien Brunner of the New Jersey Devils and Nino Niederreiter of the Minnesota Wild. Those two will shoulder heavy loads of the offensive output. Some other forwards to look for are Reto Suri, who registered 8 points in 9 games during the 2013 IIHF World Championships, Denis Hollenstein, who also registered 8 points in 9 games during the 2013 WC, and Simon Moser who is a minor-leaguer for the Nashville Predators. Back in 2010, they’re power play was a huge part of their offense and it’s going to have to be again.

The Swiss have a lot of NHL experience on the blue line compared to their crop of forwards. They feature four NHLers: Mark Streit of the Philadelphia Flyers, Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators, and Raphael Diaz and Yannick Weber of the Vancouver Canucks. Streit and Josi will be a formidable pairing on the power play, if they get the opportunity. Diaz can provide some offense as well with his rather big slap shot. There are a couple of non-NHLers for the Swiss that starred in the WC’s last year, Mathias Seger, who is the captain, Julien Vauclair and Severin Blindenbacher. Those three were excellent in the WC’s.

In goal, of course, Jonas Hiller will be the most valuable player. He was excellent in the 2010 Olympics, especially against Canada and Team USA. He will need to be very good yet again. He’s going to face a lot of shots and be under some constant pressure at times. His backup will be Reto Berra who is in his first NHL season with the Calgary Flames.

So, the Swiss are in Group C with Czech Republic, Latvia and Sweden. So, they have a bit of a tough draw. Sweden is the favorite to win the gold in my opinion and Czech Republic is always a good team. With the format, they’ll most likely get a good draw for the Qualification Playoffs round. They’ll most likely get through to the Quarterfinals, but will draw a team that is competing for a gold medal, so, they will probably not last longer than the Quarterfinals.

Throughout, I will bring you your Finland and Switzerland updates regard the men’s ice hockey tournament. Dani will handle Team USA, Canada and Sweden.

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Tags: 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Team Switzerland

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