Let's face it, olympic hockey is a fast-pace, high-pressure tournament and (almost) anything can happen if a goalie gets hot (or cold). Dogmatic predictions are out of line, but general suspicions are possible. I've arranged the teams into tiers which, I believe, distinguish between the true gold medal threats, potential bronze medal threats, and teams that don't really have a chance to medal (in my opinion)
1st Tier: Canada, Russia, Sweden, United States
2nd Tier: Czech Republic, Finland, Slovakia, Switzerland
3rd Tier: Austria, Latvia, Norway, Slovenia
So who will win gold? I have no idea. To be honest, I really like the type of player that the USA has lots of (gritty 2-way forwards). I think America is a clear underdog in this tournament which is a role most athletes love. Canada and Russia have a lot of pressure on them to win. We'll see what that pressure brings out of them. But, in the end, I think this tournament will largely come down to what goalies are playing their best. I suspect that the USA will win the gold over Russia.
Why not Canada? I think they'll run into better and hotter goalies. But make no mistake, I will not be surprised at all if Canada wins the gold. They should be the favorites.
Why not Russia? I actually think they'll play over their heads (respond to the pressure well), but I just don't think they have the defensive strength and/or depth.
Why not Sweden? King Henry would have to be at the top of his game for them to win gold in my opinion and he's done nothing this NHL season to suggest that he is ready to play at that level.
Will Canada at least win the bronze? I think so. If they end up in the bronze medal game and lose that will be a disaster, especially if they lose to an incredible underdog like Switzerland.