Laidlaw checking in. I swapped days with the Dobber Man so he can cover me while I make my way down for the Dobber Hockey event this Friday so you'll have to wait for your next fix from the big man. You can find more details on the event here.
I hope you enjoyed the return of my Autobots vs. Decepticons piece. I hope to make that an annual tradition. I also hope to be a bit more active on the article front.
The biggest question I got on the piece was regarding Alex Stalock. He didn't make the article because I am treating him like a backup, not a surprise starter.
We had a sweet comment in the ramblings a couple of weeks back discussing how Stalock needs to make a certain number of appearances or else he becomes a UFA this summer. I don't see San Jose getting desperate just to keep their hooks in a backup goalie, which is why I'm not too concerned about him stepping on Antti Niemi's toes down the stretch or in the future. I see Stalock as a current and future backup and no more.
I cannot tell you how lucky I was to have Canada-Finland go to overtime. If you recall, I bet Finland at +350 to win Group B assuming that it would come down to a Canada-Finland battle for the group on the final day of round robin play. That all came true but along the way Finland lost their top three centermen Mikko Koivu, Valtteri Filppula and Aleksander Barkov. That left Canada -400 favourites to open the game. Damn!
I'd hoped I could hedge that group bet but it wasn't to be until, of course, luck struck. Finland forced overtime and I was able to hedge my bet with a live bet on Canada at -164. With profits guaranteed I was fully vested as Drew Doughty sealed the deal for Canada.
That wasn't the end of my luck, however. By forcing overtime, Finland also locked themselves into a spot in the Quarterfinals, meaning that they were just three wins away from winning Gold, which I happened to have bet at 12/1. I can now bet a tidy sum on each of their subsequent opponents and guarantee myself some share of profit.
I love when a plan comes together even if it's total luck.
So now the Quarterfinals are set. Sweden will have beaten Slovenia by the time you read this. Not that Slovenia isn't threatening and not that Sweden is SOOOOO dominant but it's a mismatch, plain and simple.
Next up is the marquee game of the Quarters between Finland and Russia. I am so, so, SO tempted to let my Finland bet ride past the Russian's here. It is all too easy for me to picture the Finns stifling them, chipping in a couple of goals off mistakes and counterattacks and just continuing to follow the game plan that kept them in it against Canada.
The Russians appear to me to be a weaker squad than Canada, particularly on defense so it's a game plan that could easily work.
I'd say that the Russia forwards terrify me here and that's why I will ultimately put a small hedge in place but really what I'm terrified of is risk. As talented as the Russians are up front they aren't unstoppable.
The final two Quarterfinals are two games you are actually likely to watch after having read these ramblings and they'll be played simultaneously. USA vs. Czech Republic is no doubt the closer of the two games after Latvia upset Switzerland yesterday.
It's a ton of mixed emotions with Latvia pulling the upset. On one hand, the Swiss were a scary defensive-minded team. Latvia should represent a lesser challenge for Canada. I'm not sure that's a good thing though.
Playing a tougher opponent is a riskier endeavour but offers the upside of another challenging tune up for the Semis. And there's always the risk of looking past the Latvians, which it would se