Four teams remain in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Hockey Championships in Denmark, and the two North American sides are both still in the running for the gold medal.
Three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane scored two goals for Team USA to lead them to a 3-2 win over the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round. They now advance to face the powerhouse Swedish squad in the semis.
Meanwhile, Canada blew multiple leads against arch-rival Russia in the third period, but Ryan O’Reilly converted a Connor McDavid pass on a power play in overtime to knock out the defending champions with a 5-4 win.
Stars and Stripes vs. Tres Kronor
There have been few big surprises to emerge from the World Hockey Champions so far in 2018. Team USA and Team Sweden were both among the top-four betting favorites to win the gold medal coming into the tournament, and both have advanced to the final four.
Sweden entered the championships with the second-best odds to win it at +365, but the “Tre Kronor” has been the class of the tournament so far. They’re the only undefeated team left, and they’ve held their opponents to just nine goals over seven games.
Team USA will need something special from their stars to crack the air-tight Swedish defense and pull off the upset. Luckily for them, they have a just such a game breaker, and he’s red hot.
Patrick Kane’s not only leads the tournament in scoring, but his 19 points so far are a team record.
“It’s my job to produce. It’s always nice to contribute defensively,”” said Kane via the Associated Press, “We came here to put ourselves in a position to win gold. We’re on the right path.”
That path is an uphill climb, according to the bookmakers. Sportsbook.ag lists the US as a 6/5 underdog to hand the Swedes their first taste of defeat and advance to the gold medal match. Sweden, meanwhile, is a 4/5 favorite to knock off Team USA.
Canada’s Road to Gold
Team Canada faces a much easier path to glory, as they draw the Swiss in the semi-final round. Switzerland is the surprise of the tournament so far after pulling off a stunning 3-2 upset over Finland in the quarter-final round.
Canada has to be quietly relieved they’ll face the Swiss and not the Finns. Finland thumped the Canadians 5-1 in the preliminary stage en route to winning the group.
In all, it’s been something of a lacklustre performance for the team that came into the championships as a favorite to win it all. Canada finished third in their group and has yet to look like the dominant team that their NHL pedigree suggests.
Still, the canucks remain the favorite to win the gold medal and are expected to have an easy time with the Swiss in the semis. They’re paying 1/5 to advance, while the odds of Switzerland pulling off the upset are pegged at 7/2.
They also have the longest odds at winning it all at 12/1. Team USA opened the tournament with 8/1 odds, but with four teams remaining, they’re now paying 7/2.
Canada and Sweden remain the favorites to take the gold medal at 5/4 and 7/4, respectively.