Olympic hockey medal picks for the men's and women's tournaments


The women's Olympic hockey tournament began Saturday and runs through Feb. 22 -- and it's "gold or bust" for Team USA, which has finished second to archrival Canada at the past two Games. Even though the men's tournament, which starts Wednesday and runs through Feb. 25, doesn't include NHL players this time around, there are still plenty of reasons to tune in. Here are our picks as to which teams will take home the hardware in both tournaments.
Greg Wyshynski: Having already established that an NHL-led American team would have captured gold in Pyeongchang, I now cast a melancholy glance at the men's tournament and see the Americans sans any medal. Sigh.
Canada should win Group A, while the Olympic Athletes from Russia and Sweden should win their respective groups. Assuming the sorta-Russians throttle their group and finish with the top seed in the medal round, that would set up a Canada-Sweden semifinal if the favorites win out. Which means the winner would likely play the KHL-player-rich OAR for gold, while Sweden defeats whoever advances to the bronze-medal game. (Hopefully, a total off-the-board surprise and not, say, Finland.)
My pick here is Canada. Not only because this is a well-coached group led by Willie Desjardins, but because I assume they're going to have enough speed and just enough offense to hang with the better teams in this tournament.
But most of all, the pick is Canada because that is the only answer to the following question: What scenario could play out in the 2018 men's tournament that would drive me into a spiral of hockey sadness? The U.S. failing to medal while Canada not only wins a third straight gold but crafts a faux-"Miracle On Ice" legend for beating a heavily favored "Athletes From Russia" team.