Saturday, February 15, 2014

Olympic Pool Update (Day 4, Feb 15)

Is any other team going to lead this pool other than Rob A.'s teams?

Rob's second team jumped back on top of the standings after somewhat of a lacklustre Day 4 in the scoring department in Sochi, but I guess we should expect a few of these kind of days, while we watch the style of play get tighter and tighter with more and more on the line.

Rob's second team was the best team on Day 4, picking up 12 points and it jumped ahead by 3 points over his first team.  The only team to break the 40-point barrier with Rob's teams was Scott A., who has a team of goalies that hasn't let in a goal yet.

How about an upset to start your Saturday off?

Now, Slovakia, is by no means, expected to push too hard in the medal race, but they should have been able to handle the even smaller hockey nation, which is Slovenia.  Right?

Well, they didn't.  Slovenia, led by their only current NHLer, Anze Kopitar, the underdog nation was able to hold Slovakia to a 0-0 tie going into the 3rd period, before they were able to break the game open, score three goals before the middle of the frame and then hang on for dear life, as the Slovaks pushed, but not quite as hard as you may have expected.

The only Slovenian on the Sheet, Kopitar, did pick up a goal, but unfortunately, it wasn't the winner, so it was 1 point for the Los Angeles Kings forward.

The marquee game of Saturday was the Russians playing host to the Americans and it looked like it was a screamer of a game.  I slept through the game, so I'm not able to speak to it exactly.

The game is mired in controversy, as a goal disallowed for the Russians has the whole country up and arms.  The Russians were also quite unhappy about Alexander Radulov and a couple of key penalties he had taken that led to a couple of American power play goals.

Nevertheless, the game went to the shootout and thanks to international shootout rules, T.J. Oshie was able to put on a show, scoring four goals, including the winner, on six attempts, putting his name in lights.  As the scoring rules in the pool dictate, Oshie, not taken at all, was credited with a game-winning goal.

Remarkably, there was only one American that notably affected the pool standings, as Jonathan Quick earned his second win of the tournament.  On the flip side of the game, Pavel Datsyuk scored a pair of goals and Andrei Markov added a pair of assists.

Derek Stepan, taken three times in the pool, has yet to feature in a game for the Americans, being a healthy scratch for the first two games.  It looks like the US is going to stay the course with a couple of wins under their belts.

How about those Swiss?  Or more to the point, how about that Jonas Hiller?  Hiller has dressed a couple of times for Switzerland and he has yet to let in a goal.  On Saturday, Hiller made 26 saves and stymied the Czech Republic, bringing his points total for the tournament to 8.

As for offense, the Swiss managed to get by on the minimum amount of goals for the win, one.  Sadly, the goal and two assists that were credited, had no effect in the pool standings, so the only points that were taken were from Hiller and only one team was able to collect those points.

The Czechs were likely the favourites in this game, if you went by pool selections, as the Swiss only had three selections to 24 picks on the other side.  But much like an underdog that makes it through the Stanley Cup Playoffs, all your team needs is a hot goalie and just enough of the other essentials to make a solid run.

Finally, one of the other favourite teams to make it through to the Gold Medal Game, Sweden, also went to 3-0-0-0 in the tournament with a 5-3 win over Latvia.

The Swedes needed a solid power play to push their way past the Latvians today, as their defense had a few holes exposed and Henrik Lundqvist wasn't quite his Vezina Trophy self, but still managed to earn his third win, going undefeated in the round robin.

Picking up multi-point games in the pool for Sweden were Jonathan Ericsson (GWG), Daniel Alfredsson (goal & assist), Alexander Edler (goal & assist), Erik Karlsson (goal & assist) and Daniel Sedin (2 assists).  Edler, made his debut in the tournament after serving his 2-game IIHF suspension and was able to make an immediate impact.

As for the Latvians, the two players that are on the sheet, Zemgus Girgensons and Kaspers Daugavins, each recorded a point, their first of the tournament.  No one really cares, as they were not taken by anyone in the pool.

With the 2 points from the win, Lundqvist now leads the pool with 9 points, which will make the 13 teams that picked him very happy.

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