Not a traditional powerhouse like Canada and Sweden, Team Switzerland will be relying heavily on it’s defensive core during the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Led by Captain Matthias Serger, it is expected that the defenseman will have to provide both offense and defense. If you aren’t familiar with the team, here is the Swiss National Team:
Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks- NHL)
Reto Berra (Calgary Flames – NHL)
Tobias Stephen (Geneve-Servette – NLA)
Mark Streit (Philadelphia Flyers – NHL)
Roman Josi (Nashville Predators – NHL)
Yannick Weber (Vancouver Canucks – NHL)
Raphael Diaz (Montreal Canadiens – NHL)
Goran Bezina (Geneve-Servette – NLA)
Severin Blindenbacher (ZSC – NLA)
Philipp Furrer (SC Bern – NLA)
Mathias Serger (ZSC – NLA)
Julien Vauclair (Lugano – NLA)
Andrew Ambuhl (HC Davos – NLA)
Matthias Bieber (Kloten – NLA)
Simon Bodenmann (Kloten – NLA)
Damien Brunner (New Jersey Devils – NHL)
Luca Cunti (ZSC – NLA)
Ryan Gardner (Bern – NLA)
Denis Hollenstein (Geneve-Servette – NLA)
Simon Moser (Bern – NLA)
Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild – NHL)
Martin Pluss (Bern- NLA)
Kevin Romy (Geneve-Servette – NLA)
Reto Suri (EV Zug – NLA)
Morris Trachsler (ZSC – NLA)
Roman Wick (ZSC – NLA)
Goaltending and Defense will be the name of the game for Swiss National Team. Jonas Hiller has the ability to be an elite goaltender. However, he is very inconsistent in his play. If Switzerland wants to compete in a strong group C consisting of Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and Latvia. Reto Berra will be the back up goaltender for the Swiss National Team. He will not be able to steal a game like Jonas Hiller can. Berra is a solid backup, but he is still a backup. His role is to provide a fighting chance for the Swiss team to win. The Swiss defense is also very sound with Mark Streit leading the way. Most NHL fans might not be familiar with the name Goran Bezina, but he’s a player to watch out for. He was drafted to the NHL in 1999 by the Phoenix Coyotes (234th Overall (Solid Swiss Hockey Trivia right there)). He never really stuck on to the NHL, playing 3 games with the Coyotes. However, he’s been playing very good in the NLA, leading all defenseman in scoring.
Switzerland is a little weak in the forward department in my opinion. Sure they have the top three scorers in the NLA, but don’t have a four line balance that teams like Canada have. It also worries me that there a few players in their mid to late thirties who may have less of an “explosion” that is needed in the international game. For the readers who may not understand the need for the “explosion”, let me explain the significance to you. In the NHL, the size of the rinks are 200 feet long and 85 feet wide, while an Olympic Rink is 210 feet long and 98 feet wide. This means Olympic rinks have larger skating room and more space to cover. As a result speed is very important and the first step is what can be the difference between stopping a rush and a breakaway.
Couple of snubs I thought could have been on the team include:
Luca Sbisa: I understand that he is out with an injury, but reports are that he would be back in Mid-Janurary, which is before the Olympics. He is a great stay at home defenseman which would complement offensive minded defenseman like Roman Josi and Mark Streit.
Inti Pestoni: Most NHL fans won’t know who he is, but he reminds me of Cory Conacher of the Senators. Here’s a quick highlight reel of him:
He has a good shot and has some speed. Even though he is smaller than most players, he has shown that he can push through for some goals. He’s a bit young at age 22, but LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was in the Canadian 2010 Olympic team that won gold. He’s currently fourth in scoring in the NLA, so I’m a bit dissapointed he wasn’t chosen, but he has many more years to prove himself.
The offensive defenseman will have to help in scoring. Hiller will have to steal a game or two. The older Swiss players will have to prove me wrong with the speed. If they can do all those things, then Team Switzerland may have a chance of escaping Group B.
There’s too much to overcome. Sweden will 1st in Group B barring a major meltdown. 2nd place will either be Czech Republic or Team Switzerland (Sorry Latvia.). I think they will be 3rd Place in Group B.
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