Well, first of all, I would like to welcome all the participants in the Olympic hockey pool. A whopping 31 entries were submitted, which puts the prize pool at $310, a nice chunk of change for a simple $10 investment, plus a little bit of time. If you're checking the site regularly, I would hope that you're also checking the blog, as it will have a small breakdown of some of the daily action, possibly will give you a little bit of insight as to how the pool is operating as well.
Play underway in Sochi on Wednesday evening (in Russia) with a couple of games, including a couple of big hockey nations facing off. So, how about a quick recap of some points?
It wasn't quite an offensive display in the Group C game between Latvia and Switzerland, as the favoured Swiss came away with a 1-0 win. Jonas Hiller, the Anaheim Ducks number one goalie, was the star of the game in the end, making 21 saves for the shutout win, which was good for 4 points in the pool, 2 points for the win and another 2 points for the shutout. Hiller became the early leader in points in the pool and he was taken once in the pool, by Scott A., who jumped up to 4th place with the victory.
There were only eight Swiss players on the Selection Sheet and three players were taken once, Hiller, Damien Brunner and Nino Niederreiter. The two forwards that were taken were unable to get their name on the only goal of the game, but Mark Streit, defenseman for the Philadelphia Flyers, did pick up an assist that went into the abyss of unclaimed points.
In the second Group C game, it was far more exciting, as Sweden topped the Czech Republic, 4-2, after going up 4-0 early in the 2nd period. When the Czechs started to pour it on, after their second goal, New York Rangers number one, Henrik Lundqvist, stood on his head and kept the opponents at bay, leading his side to the 2-goal victory.
Lundqvist, taken 13 times in the pool, also added an assist to his victory, making his debut at the Sochi games a rousing success, coming away with 3 points. Yes, assists count for goalies as well.
Erik Karlsson, taken 11 times, potted a pair of goals, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, taken six times, picked up a pair of assists, and Henrik Zetterberg's goal in the 2nd period was the game-winner, which gave him the bonus point on the day for 2 points as well. Zetterberg was taken five times in the pool, giving a handful of teams an early bonus point in the standings.
Also of note, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alex Edler, missed the opening game of the tournament and will also miss Friday's game against the Swiss, due to a 2-game suspension he picked up at the World Championships last Summer. Nine teams in the pool will forego a couple of games for the rearguard, which may play a role in the scoring in this pool in this sprint to the finish.
Rob A.'s second team took an early lead in the pool, since his team was very Sweden-heavy, picking up the win for Lundqvist and the bonus point for Zetterberg, just to get started. Rob's team finished with 11 points to snag the Day 1 lead.
On Thursday, it will be a busy day, and an important day for most teams, as Canada will get underway against Norway late in the evening in Sochi. Other pool favourites, Russia and the USA, also get started the tournament, so there should be lots of points to go around.