It’s finally here. With the Olympics getting under way and the hockey starting soon, it’s time to roll out our preview of each team between now and puck drop. May the best team win.
The Swiss national hockey team is currently ranked 7th in the world by the IIHF. They’re sporting eight NHL players on their 25-man roster, are coached by Sean Simpson, and finished eighth in 2010 at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
|Member Since||November 23, 1908 (founding nation)|
|Men’s World Ranking||7|
|Women’s World Ranking||5|
C, with the Czech Republic, Sweden and Latvia.
|Jonas Hiller||Anaheim Ducks|
|Reto Berra||Calgary Flames|
|Raphael Diaz||Montreal Canadiens|
|Roman Josi||Nashville Predators|
|Mark Streit||Philadelphia Flyers|
|Yannick Weber||Vancouver Canucks|
|Damien Brunner||New Jersey Devils|
|Nino Niederreiter||Minnesota Wild|
Mark Streit, Jonas Hiller. If we go farther than that we’re gonna start to stretch the definition of “big names,” methinks. Though, there is a “Bieber” on the team. I suppose that one’s fairly well known.
They may only have eight NHLers, but the team is deeper than that lets on. A handful of their players that don’t meet the “current NHL player” definition touched the league, and numerous others play in Europe’s top leagues.
The Swiss are a nice skating, fairly young team that’s boasting a top four of Mark Streit, Roman Josi, Rafael Diaz and Yanick Weber. I realize that’s not pull-your-hair-out amazing or anything, but it’s good enough to elevate their team from the bottom third of the teams in the tournament. Nino Niederreiter and Damien Brunner headline the group of forwards, and if the team is going to have a real shot at being anywhere near the medals in this tournament, they’re going to need a lot from those two.
Their biggest strength of all is in net. Jonas Hiller is an above average NHL goaltender, and in a tournament where you only need a couple games of overachieving to be viewed as a success, he gives them a shot to steal a few.
They can’t hang in terms of elite talent with the top few big dogs – for example, Russia’s trotting out Ovechkin, Datsyuk, Kovalchuk and Malkin up front, and I just brought up Damien Brunner and Nino Niederreiter. If that happened in a shinny game you’d throw the sticks back to center and re-pick. They can’t hang in terms of depth either – Canada just picked up an injury replacement who would immediately be Switzerland’s best forward. And, they’ll likely struggle to create offense against some of the best d-men in the world.
Route to the Olympics
Switzerland finished 8th in Vancouver and were eliminated by the United States in the quarterfinals. Switzerland’s last medal was a bronze all the way back in 1948. Switzerland is a hockey nation on the rise. They beat Canada and the Czech Republic in the 2006 Olympics. In 2010, it took a shootout for Canada to beat them. In the World Championships this year, the Swiss won the silver medal.
While we’re more used to teams like the Czech Repbublic and Slovakia being the dark horses that come through with upsets, this year its the Swiss who have a roster that could annoy some of the top clubs. I have them finishing eighth, but don’t sleep on ‘em.
Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)