Olympic Hockey has really only been a legitimately contested sport since 1980. Before that seminal year, the Winter Olympics was rarely able to field a full slate of competitive teams. Boycotts were common, and the US even sent two teams one year. The leading teams from 1980-1994, ranked by Pythagorean winning percentage are:
The various Russian entries - either as the USSR, Russia or "Team Unified" - are all counted together under USSR. West Germany and unified Germany are also one entry, and Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic are one unit, with Slovakia separate. World hockey, as it has been for decades, was dominated by the top six - Canada, the US, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czechs - with Slovakia a potential entrant to a top seven. Switzerland and Germany have been consistently better than the other weaker nations, but they could not consistently challenge for top six status.
In 1998, the Olympics were fully professionalized, and each country sent the best possible team it could put together. The results over the last three Olympics:
As you can see, there's very little daylight between the top five teams, while the US and Slovakia trail slightly and are followed by a big gap down to the next tier of teams. If we look at just the games played between the top seven teams over the last three Olympics and the last two World Cups - the five world tournaments since the breakup of the Eastern Bloc countries - we get the following standings:
Slovakia has been outclassed several times, but otherwise, the gap from 1st to 6th is minuscule. Indeed, each of these six teams have been in the finals of at least one of these five tournaments and is potentially a threat to win any given tournament.