The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing are rapidly drawing near and although we still aren't sure whether or not players from the National Hockey League will participate, oddsmakers have long since started making their predictions about which nation should be the favorite coming into this tournament.
Odds shift all the time of course and today we will be looking at a particularly drastic shift over the course of just a few short months, one that signals perhaps a lack of faith in some hockey nations or a growing faith in others. To no one's surprise the Canadian squad will remain the favorites coming into this tournament, but over the last few months the teams nipping at their heels have changed drastically.
First let's take a look at the updated odds courtesy of Bardown:
While Canada remains a favorite at (+140), that represents a drop down from the (-125) they were at in September. That shift however is relatively minor compared to some others.
The biggest hit by far has been to the United States hockey team, previously listed as the second biggest favorite in September at odds of (+350), the United States now find themselves a distant 4th with odds of (+700). That represents a massive drop and one has to wonder if the resignation of former USA Hockey general manager Stan Bowman has played a significant role in that drop.
Moving in to take the Americans spot in second place has been the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), which is effectively the Russian men's hockey team. They are listed under that name until December of 2022, when their ban for a doping violation will have run its course. They were previously 4th behind the Americans and Sweden in September, listed at odds of (+550), but the team now finds itself right behind Canada at (+350).
Sweden was third in September at odds of (+500) and they have been among the more stable nations in the group remaining in third and seeing their odds adjusted only slightly to (+600).
Of course the games will have to be played to determine a winner, but this gives you an idea of how some of the brightest minds in the world are viewing this upcoming tournament... at least for now.