And down they drop! Tuesday was the first day of elimination in the Olympic mens tournament, meaning lots of high stakes and desperate players. More importantly, the recaps will be easier from here on out because there will be fewer games. Maybe that’s not more important for you, but it is for me.
Peace out, Austria. Adios, Norway. Keep it real, Slovakia. YOLO, Switzerland.
Let’s do the recap.
Slovenia 4, Austria 0
Slovenia outshot the Austrians 35-30 and got this backbreaking dribbler of a game-winning goal just five minutes in off the stick of the coach’s son, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings:
Robert Kristan got a 30-save shutout for the plucky team that is surprising everybody. Slovenia has earned a date with Sweden, who — let’s just be honest– is going to crush them. But this crew of dudes should be really proud of themselves. They should give Sweden as much trouble as they can summon up, and they should greeted like superstars when they return home.
Russia 4, Norway 0
Since halfway through prelims, the Russian Team has been kept afloat by KHL players. On Tuesday, Alex Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk kept that trend going. Russia earned a comfortable win over Norway, but that’s the end of easy street for them. They’ll face a tough Finland team in the quarterfinals next, a team we should not underestimate.
Plus, I kinda think the Russian PP is incompetent. When Ovi was in the Ovi Spot, Russia showed no keen interest in getting the puck to the most dangerous shooter in his most dangerous position. Things went a bit better when Ovi went down the middle, but if I were Coach Bill I’d be checking out some Caps game tape. Or maybe just this piece by Tyler Dellow.
No call on this next play. Was Ovi tripped on a breakaway? Probably, but it is quite the consummate fall.
NBC savaged Alex again. Something about work ethic. I’m not gonna write about it. Ovi is doing just fine as far as I’m concerned. More on this later.
Anyway, Bobrovsky’s shutout might be good for the confidence of his team’s defense, who should’ve been able to keep Norway to fewer than 27 shots. The 22 their own offense mustered is just not gonna be enough for Finland. Do moar, Russia!
Czech Republic 5 , Slovakia 3
The Czechs grabbed an early and comfortable lead, but the Slovaks came back hard as hell. Elimination hockey will do that to you, I guess. With ten minutes left, it was a one-goal game in a fight for who would become the USA’s opponent tomorrow.
This, in my opinion, was the best game of the day. The Slovak’s noble charge in the final five minutes was pretty excellent until Andrej Meszaros‘ blatant slash finished off their hopes. Tomas Plekanec got the empty netter for the Czechs.
Random thought: Neuvirth > Pavelec.
So Marty Erat and the Czechs will face John Carlson and the Americans tomorrow at lunchtime. It’s so on.
Latvia 3, Switzerland 1
Switzerland built its reputation in these Games on keeping the score low. As the stingiest team in the tournament, they gave better teams a scare with some strong goaltending and restrained offsense. That’s all over now. As soon as Latvia got its second goal, we saw the writing on the wall: theses guys can’t scoar moar goals, they just grind.
That’s the latent deception in a tournament like this. With so few games and so much disparity between the best and the worst teams, it’s easy for a hot goaltender to make a meh team look like Cinderella arriving at the ball. Latvia knew the secret: repetition. Putting 30+ shots on Jonas Hiller is how you do it.
Latvia will be fed to the Canadian wolves tomorrow at noon.
Here’s how it looks for Wednesday:
I’m already nervous about the quarterfinals. Sweden and Canada have a walk to the semifinals, but Russia and the US need to bear down. The Czechs are old and creaky, but they’ve got JJ. The Finns don’t have much depth, but they’ve got maybe the best goalie this year in their net and all their player names sound like characters from Star Wars novels.
Get to bed early tonight, friends. Tomorrow is a big day. Thursday will be silent for the men, except for the women’s final between Canada vs USA. We should just shut down twitter now. And then the weekend. God help us. The weekend.
P.S. If you’re in Frederick, I think I’ll be watching the game at Bushwallers on North Market Street, eating a grilled cheese.