It's the end of Day 3 in Sochi and the pool has a new leader... well, sort of. Okay, the leader is still Rob A., but since he put in two teams, the team he had deemed his "first team," has now taken the lead from his "second team" and now they sit 1-2 in the standings. How fair is that, right? Nevertheless, there is only one prize, but now we all have to contend with both of his teams, instead of just one of them.
Rob's first team was the best on Day 3, picking up a pool-high of 20 points, surpassing a few teams and then taking a 4-point lead into the weekend.
The Valentine's Day worth of action started with an early game between the Czech Republic and Latvia. It sounded like the Czechs had their hands full of Latvian pressure, as they were up two goals going into the 3rd period, up 4-2, and held on in a scoreless final frame to earn their first points in the Group C standings.
Two players of note in this game, with an impact in the pool, Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers, scored the game-winner in the match, picking up 2 points for the three teams that had picked him in the pool and defenseman Marek Zidlicky had a goal and an assist for the one team that picked him in the pool.
Ondrej Pavelec started the second game for the Czechs, earned the win and the 2 points, but those points headed to the abyss, as no one took the Winnipeg Jets keeper in the pool.
In other Group C action on Friday saw the Swiss get an A+ for effort against a Zetterberg-less Sweden team, keeping the number one ranked team in the world to a 1-0 game, albeit a loss for the underdog Switzerland.
With the Czech win and the Switzerland loss, the Czechs hold the 2nd place in the group, for the time being, with the two teams going head-to-head on Saturday, in their last round robin game.
Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers appears to be carrying Sweden to however far they'll go in this tournament and is now leading the pool with 7 points, thanks to his 26-save shutout performance against the Swiss.
Seeing as though there was only one goal in this game, it was also the game-winner and that was credited to Daniel Alfredsson, who was taken three times in the pool.
Sweden concludes their round robin games on Saturday as well, in one of the late games against Latvia. I'm sure the Sweden-heavy poolies will be all over this game, as the Swedes should overpower the winless Latvian team.
Those who were expecting an offensive display against the Norwegians had to wait a couple of days for the explosion to happen for Canada, but it was at the expense of Austria. The Austrians showed a little bit of NHL speed in the early part of the 1st period, but that kind of momentum fizzled quickly, as the Canadians opened the scoring five minutes in and didn't let up until the end of the 2nd period.
Canada put together a 6-0 rout of Austria on Friday, relieving some of the second guesses that this team didn't have the firepower to go a long way in the tournament.
Roberto Luongo, the less-favourite Canadian keeper in the pool, picked up 4 points with the shutout, while Jeff Carter, taken six times, added a hat-trick and Patrick Marleau, chosen 11 times, had 3 assists. Also picking up a couple points were Drew Doughty (GWG), Shea Weber (goal & assist) and Ryan Getzlaf (goal & assist).
Canada will finish off their round-robin schedule against the Finns on Sunday, while Austria will play Norway. There was no announcement on the starting goalie for Canada, but it sounds like Patrick Sharp and Dan Hamhuis, who made way for Matt Duchene and P.K. Subban on Friday, will be back in the line-up on Sunday.
Also in the late games on Valentine's Friday, Finland exercised their dominance over Norway, handing them a 6-1 thumping, as they warm up for the Canadians on Sunday.
Finland scored within the first six minutes of the game and never looked back, carrying a 5-0 lead into the 3rd period, where the two teams traded goals and your final was pretty well elementary.
The most popular Finn, Teemu Selanne, taken 11 times, opened the scoring and that was his contribution to the game. Defenseman Olli Maatta, taken six times, had a goal and 2 assists to be the largest contributor in this game for the Finns. Tuomo Ruutu, taken nine times, also chipped in with a couple of assists, making an impact on the pool standings on the day.
Kari Lehtonen, goaltender for the Dallas Stars, was not included on the Sheet, as I wasn't going to include all three goalies for Finland. He was the one that ended up playing and is arguably the number two goalie, ahead on Antti Niemi, who acted as back-up on Friday. There has been no indication of who will start against Canada on Sunday, but it will likely be between the two starters already, Lehtonen or Tuukka Rask.
In today's game, an injury note, as forward Alexander Barkov left the game with a knee injury. The young Finn, taken once in the pool, will be re-evaluated on Saturday and his status will likely be updated for Sunday then.
As for Saturday, we will see Group A and Group C action, as Slovakia and Slovenia, Russia and the USA, Switzerland and the Czech Republic and Sweden versus Latvia all go. I'm sure we're all hoping for some high-scoring games, but is anyone going to get up for the 5:30am start between the host nation and the Americans?