Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Hockey Sunday Preview

If you've been waiting for some big games, then today's terrific trio over in Vancouver should do the trick. Plenty is on the line in each.

First up at 3, Russia and the Czechs do battle with Group B hanging in the balance. A Czech Republic OT win clinches first as they'd be a perfect 3-for-3 in preliminary action. Russia needs it badly due to their shootout loss to Slovakia, who finished with wins in regulation and OT plus a loss to the Czechs for five points. If Russia loses, they finish third in the group and would be in a difficult position. They'll have Malkin reunited with Ovechkin in an attempt to boost offense against sizzling duo Jaromir Jagr and Cze captain Patrik Elias. We'll see if they can slow them down.

At 7:40 tonight, the main event takes place when Team USA takes on host Canada. It's the Americans and not Canada who's in the driver's seat. Ron Wilson's squad looks to make it a perfect 3-for-3 when they step up in competition against Crosby, Iginla, Shark trio Marleau, Jumbo Joe and Heatley, Niedermayer/Pronger and MB30 in net. Thus far, the favorites haven't looked sharp struggling mightily on the power play. Their overpassing almost cost them again against the pesky Swiss, who edged Norway yesterday 5-4 to finish third. If reunited Devil duo Parise and Langenbrunner can spark the offense, USA can win the group outright. However, if they earn only a point, it could come down to goal differential. It should be a thriller with Ryan Miller going face to face against Marty. We'll see if shifting Kane to Ryan Kesler's line gets him going in what will be an unreal atmosphere.

In the finale tonight at 9, a rivalry is renewed when Finland faces nemesis Sweden with Group C up for grabs. Both enter 2-0. So, something has to give. The Finns have been sharper with Teemu Selanne recording an assist for a new Olympic record 37 points (20-17-37). The Finnish Flash has participated in five Winter Games. Congrats to one of the classiest and best finishers the sport's had. Hope you keep playing. It should be great to see him and Saku Koivu team up against The Sedins, Lidstrom, Zetterberg, The Mule and Backstrom. Plus Foppa even if we feel he took Mikael Samuelsson's spot. The Finns will need good performances out of Olli Jokinen, both Ruutus, Joni Pitkanen and Jere Lehtinen. Plus there's the great match-up in net between Miikka Kiprusoff and Henrik Lundqvist.

Is Henrik playing hurt this year? If you go by this article back home, he might still be nursing a bad groin. How does one play 54 games and only miss a couple of starts? Plus play in the Olympics. He did rest for a shaky second game in which they held off Belarus. One thing we've noticed all year is his tendency to flop to the ice whenever the action is near his crease. Imagine if it's true? Yikes.

Anyway, the games should be great. Just one more thing. NBC. Don't screw this up!

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