Although the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China, don’t officially open until Feb. 4, athletes taking part in the hockey and curling competitions actually begin group play Feb. 2 in North American time zones.
Canada is sending 215 athletes — 109 men and 106 women — to the Winter Olympics, its third-largest contingent ever. Ice hockey and curling will once again be strengths of Team Canada, so let’s take a closer look at these events from a sports betting standpoint.
- Canada -118
- USA -105
- Finland +1,500
- Russia +3,000
- Sweden +5,000
- Switzerland +5,000
- Japan +6,600
Oddsmakers have this competition pegged as a two-horse race. Either Canada or the U.S. have claimed the gold medal in this event since the first women’s competition at the 1998 Nagano Games. Canada has earned gold in four of the six Olympic women’s ice hockey competitions, while the United States has captured Olympic gold twice, including a thrilling 3-2 shootout victory over Canada in the 2018 Games.
Canada went a perfect 7-0 in the women’s world championships last August, including a 3-2 overtime victory over the Americans in the championship game. However, USA is the top-ranked team in the world, according to the International Hockey Ice Hockey Federation’s point system, followed closely by Canada at No. 2.
Canada’s roster consists of 13 returning members from the 2018 Games, while 10 will be making their Olympic debut. Marie-Philip Poulin and Rebecca Johnston will both be appearing in their fourth Olympics for Canada. The Americans will also be returning 13 players from their 2018 Olympic squad, including goaltender Maddie Rooney.
The U.S. and Canada will face each other in the final game of pool play on Feb. 7 at 11 p.m. ET. If both teams win out from there, they will meet again in the gold-medal game. That contest is scheduled for Feb. 16. This one could be too close to call, so flip a coin and enjoy what could be one of the more memorable events of the 2022 Games.
- Russia +150
- Canada +350
- Finland +400
- Sweden +450
- Czech Republic +800
- USA +1,400
- Germany +2,500
- Switzerland +2,500
These odds would have looked very different had the NHL not backed out of the Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns. Without participation from NHL stars, Canada and USA’s odds have now lengthened considerably. Canada opened as the odds-on favorite at many sportsbooks, while the USA was as high as +350 at some books when it was believed NHL players could take the ice.
The Russians are the defending 2018 gold medalists and are once again favored in another NHL-less Olympics. The team boasts a few former NHLers, including Mikhail Grigorenko, Artem Anisimov, Nikita Gusev, and Nikita Nesterov. Russia will also have the KHL’s top scorer, Vadim Shipachyov, on its roster.
“I would give a long hard look at Russia as the argument can certainly be made that they have the top non-NHL talent of any country taking part,” Canadian pro handicapper Sean Murphy told US Bets. “That has certainly been factored into the futures odds, however, so not a lot of help on that front.”
Canada’s roster is comprised of former NHLers and young guns. Led by 37-year-old forward Eric Staal, who has over 1,300 NHL games and over 1,000 points to his credit, Canada will be seeking its first gold medal since 2014. Mason McTavish and Owen Power will be the first teenagers to represent Canada in men’s hockey at the Olympics since a 19-year-old Paul Kariya dressed in 1994. These players have all been thrown together at the last minute with very little time to develop any chemistry in practice. This will be an issue for many of the competing nations, and it could result in some very sloppy hockey.
Meet Team Canada! 🇨🇦
25 men have been selected to represent 🇨🇦 at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) January 25, 2022
In each of the mixed doubles, men’s, and women’s events, Canada will play nine round robin games. At the end of the preliminary round, the top four teams in each tournament will advance to the playoffs. The teams ranked first and fourth will square off in one semifinal, while the teams ranked second and third will compete in the other semi. The winners move on to play for gold and silver, leaving the losers to play for bronze.
The oldest woman and the oldest man on Canada’s Olympic team are both curlers. Jennifer Jones, 47, is going for her second gold medal in the women’s event, while John Morris, 43, tries to repeat as mixed doubles champion.
OLYMPIC CURLING SCHEDULE
Just to ensure you get absolutely no sleep for most of February. But all the curling drama.
— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) January 29, 2022
- Canada +250
- Sweden +300
- Great Britain +350
- Switzerland +750
- Japan +1,000
- South Korea +1,200
- Russia +1,400
- USA +1,400
Jones is an Olympic champion, two-time world champion, and six-time national champion. She and her team went a perfect 11-0 in the 2014 Games to capture Canada’s first gold in the women’s event since 1998.
However, Jones will be up against all three Olympic medalists from 2018: defending champion Anna Hasselborg of Sweden, South Korea’s Kim Eun-jung (silver), and Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa (bronze). The field also boasts the winner of the last world championships, Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni. You can make a case for any of the aforementioned teams to prevail in this field, so perhaps the best value is with underdogs like Japan or South Korea.
- Canada +175
- Great Britain +200
- Sweden +300
- Switzerland +800
- USA +1,200
After being shut out in the 2018 Olympics, Team Canada is a slight favorite in this category. Skip Brad Gushue won gold back in the 2006 Olympics in Italy while throwing fourth rock, and now he’ll have a chance to lead this Canadian team back to glory.
It won’t be easy, though, as five-time world champion Nik Edin of Sweden is looking to complete the treble of Olympic medals after grabbing a bronze in 2014 and silver in 2018. John Shuster, whose American team won Olympic gold in 2018, is back to defend his title at surprisingly long odds of +1,200. In addition to gold in 2018, he also claimed the bronze at the 2006 Games.
Mixed doubles outrights
- Canada +200
- Great Britain +250
- Switzerland +450
- Norway +700
- Sweden +800
- USA +1,300
- China +3,300
Rachel Homan and Morris have won four of their last six mixed doubles competitions together and 45 of their last 49 games as a duo overall. Morris won Olympic gold with skip Kevin Martin at the 2010 Vancouver Games, and also took mixed doubles gold at the 2018 Games with Kaitlyn Lawes in the discipline’s Olympic debut.
It’s important to note that Switzerland has dominated the world championships in this discipline, claiming seven gold medals in 14 opportunities. The British team of Jennifer Dodds and Bruce Mouat are also strong contenders, even though this will be their first Olympic appearance together. The duo won the 2021 world championship for Scotland.
All odds courtesy of PROLINE +.
Photo by John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports.