Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Olympic Pool Update (Day 7, Feb 19)

In the first Quarterfinal match-up of the day, Sweden handily worked over Slovenia, 5-0, in a game that didn't surprise many people.

Slovenia did really well to make it to this point, but they ran into a pretty hot team in the Swedes, playing with the top player in the pool, Henrik Lundqvist, who has now won 4 games, with 2 shutouts and an assist for 13 points.

Lundqvist only had to make 19 saves for his second shutout of the tournament, giving him another 4-point game.  Alex Steen was credited with the winner for a 2-point game, while Loui Eriksson, Erik Karlsson and Carl Hagelin each had 2-point games as well.

With the win, the Swedes would then play the winner of the Finland/Russia game.

The pressure was immense for the Russians at the beginning of the tournament, but the heat was turned up when the hosts had to go through the qualification round and Norway, before they could get to a Quarterfinals date against Finland.

Finland had been playing some good blue collar hockey, narrowly edging some teams for the bye into the Quarters and they were going to provide a very good test for the shaky Russians.

Russia got off to the start that they were looking for, a power play goal in the 1st period, but the Finns responded in 1:27 with the tying goal.  Any momentum that was gained by the goal scored with the extra man, it was quickly flipped, Teemu Selanne put Finland ahead before the end of the frame and then shut the door.  The Finns made it a 2-goal lead in the 2nd period and that ended all the scoring and in turn, dashed the Russian hopes, eliminating them before the medal round.

Tuukka Rask earned the victory, his 2nd win of the tournament, while Selanne ended up with the winner and an assist for a 3-point night, while Mikael Granlund chipped in with a goal and an assist to help the cause.

So, the early game (5am MT) on Friday will see the long standing rivalry of Finland vs. Sweden in the first Semifinal game, winner heading to the Gold Medal Game and the loser playing for bronze.

No one wanted to give Latvia any credit for playing well to get to a Quarterfinal match-up against Canada, which led to no one expecting a tough game for one of the gold medal favourites, but Latvia stood in the fight and made the Canadians scratch and claw for their 2-1 win.

No question, the star of the game was Latvia's goalie, Kristers Gudlevskis, who made 55 saves in the loss.  The Tampa Bay Lightning goalie had to make some spectacular saves, but his teammates did a good job to lessen the quality of chances, keeping a lot of shots from the point and the perimeter of the offensive zone.

Carey Price wasn't nearly as busy, but he still had to make 15 saves, some more difficult than others.  Price picked up another 2 points for his effort, his 3rd win of the tournament, while Shea Weber nailed down the winning goal, giving him a 2-point game as well.

New York Islanders captain John Tavares suffered a knee injury, which will now keep him out of the remainder of the Olympic tournament and possibly some time back in the NHL.  No one has Tavares, but this will open the door for Matt Duchene, who was scratched for this game and has been taken four times.

The Americans are doing a fantastic job of leaving no doubt about their play in this Olympic tournament, as they seem to be doing everything right, scoring goals by the handful and taking reasonable care of their own end.  The Czech Republic were the only thing in their way, standing between them and a date with Canada in the Semifinals.

The US struck early, the Czechs countered soon after, but a couple of goals, late in the 1st period, from Dustin Brown and David Backes folded their opponents and a few more goals decorated the scoresheet for a 5-2 final for the favourites.

Jonathan Quick stopped 21 shots for his 3rd win of the tournament, Backes had the winner and an assist for a 3-point night, Ryan Suter had his first 3 assists of the games and Ryan Kesler rounded out the multi-pointers with 2 assists.

Canada vs. the USA will go at 10am MT on Friday, which should prove to be one hell of a contest for both sides.

We finally found a team that has split the Rob A. lockdown of the top two spots in the standings, as Chris J. has picked up 24 points over the last couple of days to move into 2nd (via the tie-breaker), but he still sits 7 points back of Rob's first team, which may have moved too far for anyone to catch.

With very little prep time on this pool, I don't have the breakdown of the players between the two teams, but I might be able to provide something on our day off tomorrow.

Hopefully, we have a good finish to this tournament and pool... something a little closer, perhaps?

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