Archive for International Hockey
Yesterday afternoon, the Czech Republic defeated one-time country-mates Slovakia by a score of 5-3 in the qualification round. That win set up today’s game in the quarterfinals against Team USA for a spot to face Canada (probably) in the semi-finals. The Czechs actually came into pool play as the third ranked team in the world. The US was ranked #7 by the IIHF. Entering the quarterfinals, Team USA is ranked third and the Czechs seventh. My how times have changed.
Use this to discuss the game. Team USA is the better team, but the Czechs are still a solid squad. If Latvia can beat the Swiss, then anything can happen.
Mats Zuccarello sat out this morning’s game against Russia, in which Norway lost 4-0 and thus was eliminated from Olympic competition. Zuccarello sat out with a hand injury that was reportedly from either a blocked shot or a slash.
In three games, Zuccarello averaged roughly 20 minutes per game. He finished without registering a point, 10 SOG, 2 PIMs, and a -2 rating.
Last week in my NHL fan guide to Olympic hockey, I briefly spoke about how systems on international ice can be a bit different than what we are used to seeing in North American rinks. After watching much of group play, we’re starting to get a sense of how teams are tactically approaching their opponents with the extra 15 feet of ice.
If there’s one common denominator in many of these games, it is that there’s still not a hell of a lot of room out there, especially in the neutral zone. I expected a lot of trapping from the Latvia’s and Slovenia’s, as overmatched teams generally employ such systems. However, even top teams like Canada, Sweden, and Finland are using these same conservative structures.
First, my apologies for this morning. I definitely wrote an open thread post for the morning’s game against Slovenia. I definitely scheduled it to post. But it is not in the database at all. Probably just a glitch, but my bad on that. I just noticed this now because it’s been a bit of a busy weekend.
Anyway, the US dominated Slovenia this morning, taking the game 5-1 and clinching first place in Group A. Ryan Callahan notched an assist and 14:57 TOI, Ryan McDonagh scored a goal in 19:38 TOI, and Derek Stepan –dressing in his first Olympics game– was held scoreless in 4:59 TOI.
With the win, Team USA is guaranteed at least the #3 seed in the medal round and a bye to the Quarterfinals on Wednesday. If they finish with the third seed, they will play the winner of the Switzerland/Latvia game. If the Canada/Finland game goes to overtime, they will claim the #2 seed and the winner of the Czech Republic/Slovakia game.
T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues was the hero for Team USA this morning, scoring four times in six shootout chances (James van Riemsdyk and Joe Pavelski missed their chances) to propel the USA to a 3-2 shootout win over Russia. The win gives the US a big edge over Russia, and would clinch first place in Group A with a win over Slovenia tomorrow morning at 7:30am. Rangers Ryan Callahan (13:51 TOI) and Ryan McDonagh (23:39 TOI) were held off the scoreboard, but played huge defensive roles in a very strong effort.
This morning at 7:30, Team USA (with Rangers Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, and Derek Stepan) will take on Russia in a game that will likely determine the Group A winner. Since the winner of each pool is guaranteed a spot in the quaterfinals (along with the best record among the second place teams), this is clearly the most important game for both teams. Use this thread to talk about the game, the Olympics, or anything else you want to discuss at 7:30 on a Saturday morning.
Today marked the second win of round robin play for Canada and the second loss of round robin play for Norway. Canada disposed of Austria by a score of 6-0, and Norway was dropped by Finland 5-1. Both Mats Zuccarello of Norway (20:51 TOI, 4 SOG, -1) and Rick Nash of Canada (10:26 TOI, 3 SOG, +1) were held off the score sheet.
Canada’s next game is a showdown with Finland on Sunday to determine Group B’s winner. Norway takes on Austria on Sunday as well, but Norway will not make the medal round.
Through this evening, no Rangers have tallied a point in any Olympic contest.
Henrik Lundqvist backstopped Sweden to a 1-0 win over Switzerland this morning, stopping all 26 shots he faced. Hank has now stopped 53 of 55 shots faced thus far. Carl Hagelin was held off the scoreboard, but did register four shots on goal in 9:40 of ice time.
Sweden is now 2-0 with one game against Latvia coming up on Sunday. It is safe to say that they will make the medal round, winning their pool.
This year’s Olympic competition sports a pool of goaltenders amongst the strongest we have seen since the NHL began participating in the games. The United States and Finland are especially deep, each with three goaltenders that could easily start for most nations. Although the tournament has already gotten underway, and we have seen some solid (Lundqvist, Hiller) performances and some sketchy (Rask, Halak) ones, let’s take a look at what each county’s best stopper has to offer. I realize there are going to be some changes made between the pipes as the tournament goes along and most teams have several starting caliber tendys, but I’m going to break down the ones who should be starting based on ability level and previous performance.
United States- Jonathan Quick
Why not start with the Red, White and Blue? Despite this being a Rangers’ blog, I have committed a significant amount of digital ink to the King’s world class netminder. Ryan Miller was dynamite in 2010 and deserves some ice in Sochi, but this is Quick’s team. The Americans will only go as far as he can carry them, and judging from some of his playoff performances, that could include the podium to accept the gold medal. His athleticism in this tournament is rivaled only by (ironically enough) the two Russian netminders. However, his technical skills, vision and positioning are lightyears ahead of the hosts. Read More→
Both Rick Nash (Canada) and Mats Zuccarello (Norway) were held off the scoreboard this afternoon, as Canada beat Norway by a score of 3-1. Zuccarello had the most ice time (23:57) of all Norwegian forwards and registered one shot on goal. Nash played for 12:32 and had a pair of shots on net.
The Rangers have four players involved in games tomorrow. Sweden (Carl Hagelin, Henrik Lundqvist) takes on Switzerland at 7:30am EST on NBCSN. Canada is up against Austria at 12pm EST on USA. Norway takes on Finland on MSNBC, also at 12pm EST.