Sunday, December 1, 2013

Prognostications and picks: who is going to win?

So who do you think is going to win the right to head to Sochi wearing the Canadian colours?

In these two fields, it's pretty hard to pick a winner; everyone has a legitimate change. I'd say the men's field is just a little bit deeper than the women's but there's no big favourites in either lineup. And this is the Trials, where strange things have been known to happen.

Back in 1997 in Brandon, not many expected Mike Harris to win in a difficult field. And Brad Gushue admits his victory in 2005 was a surprise. It can and does happen. All it takes is a pick here or an off day for a player there and you never know what can happen.

As John Epping told me earlier this week, if you have to look for the free space on the bingo card this week, you're probably it.

So who is likely to win?

Don Landry takes a chance at ranking the field in his blog at the Eh Game at and does a pretty good job, I'd say.

Here's how I have the men's draw:

1. Glenn Howard -- the addition of Wayne Middaugh to the team last year has made this rink just that much better. They're all veterans who have played in as many big games as any and that will be a huge advantage as they get to the end of the week. It's likely the last shot for Howard and Middaugh.

2A. Jeff Stoughton -- also a veteran and a guy who has come close in the past, finishing second twice. I think these guys are as hungry as any team in the field.

2B. Kevin Koe -- I'm not quite as high on this team as others seem to be but I think you underestimate them at your peril.

4. Kevin Martin -- These guys just seem to have been missing half a gear over the last year. The departure of John Morris didn't help although Dave Nedohin is a great talent; can the team get inspired one more time?

5. Mike McEwen -- Four years ago, I thought these guys would be the favourites this time around. I wouldn't be surprised to see them win but it might be four more years until they're ready.

6. Brad Jacobs -- Hasn't been at his best this year but put on a good showing at the pre-trials so moving in the right direction. Hard to imagine the reigning Brier champs not being a favourite but here they are, in my book.

7. John Epping -- People underestimate this team. Don't -- it's sneaky good and has lots of experience in silver medallist Colin Mitchell and longtime competitor Scott Bailey.

8. John Morris -- Can Johnny Mo guide this team through this field? They're good but they're also pretty fresh as far as a team goes.

And the women's field:

1. Rachel Homan -- these women are just scary good. @FakeCCA always refers to them as cyborgs and it's funny because it's such a great description. To me, they have more shots than any other team in the field. Do they have the experience?

2. Jennifer Jones -- she's been building towards this week for a long time, changing her team with a single focus. Four years ago, she flopped. She won't do that again.

3. Sherry Middaugh -- This might surprise a few but I think this rink is ready to bust out. They have all the tools and the experience. It team dynamics counts for anything, then watch out.

4. Stefanie Lawton -- I'm always really, really impressed by this team and coming into this week, it reminds me a bit of Cheryl Bernard's team four years ago. Always capable, always a threat and ready for a breakout on a big stage. This week they're ready, prepared and focused.

5. Chelsea Carey -- Even though this team has played well on tour the last few years and piled up the CTRS points, I'm not sure they're quite ready to make the big step up yet. They need to show they can win big games and they don't come any bigger than this week.

6.  Heather Nedohin -- I love the way this woman plays the game. I love the way she calls the game.  She's super smart on the ice and fun to listen to when the mikes are on. However, I haven't seen any results this year that make me think they're gonna play as they did when they won the Scotties.

7. Renee Sonnenberg -- They looked really good in Kitchener a few weeks back, and certainly Sonnenberg has the chops to play in this field but not sure they have the horses to match up with the top rinks.

8. Val Sweeting -- Newcomers to this level, I suspect you may be talking more about this team four years from now.

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