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Russian ice hockey giants can trump weakened north Americans

Lack of NHL players a hurdle for USA and champs Canada

Ilya Kovalchuk of Russia in action at the World Championship
1 of 1

BBC & Eurosport, from 12.10pm Wednesday

Russia coveted men's ice hockey gold more than any other medal at Sochi in 2014, but the team were knocked out in the quarter-finals.

The hockey players escaped Russia's widespread doping bans but will be competing as Olympic Athletes of Russia in Pyeongchang. They are favourites but there are reasons to think they should be priced even shorter.

For the first time in two decades NHL players will not compete, and the USA and Canada field very weakened teams as a result.

But due to a growing tendency for Russian players to stay at home in the KHL in recent years, Russia look to have much the strongest squad, even without Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

Canadian players can be found in numbers in any hockey league around the world, and they have an outside chance of a medal. However, 2014 silver medallists Sweden and bronze-getters Finland could provide the strongest challenge.

However, with a team drawn mainly from KHL big guns SKA St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow and likely to be captained by league-leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, the Russians have quality and will know each others game well.

Recommendation
Olympic Athletes of Russia to win men's ice hockey gold
3pts 11-8 Coral, Ladbrokes


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For the first time in two decades NHL players will not compete, and the USA and Canada field very weakened teams as a result
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