All in all, it turned out to be a pretty good start for all the Sharks currently playing in the Olympics and games #2 are are already starting today, featuring seven of the eight Sharks. Our players did what was expected of them in games #1, as everybody except Thomas Greiss end up winning their respective games, and four of of the six Sharks who are not in the goal recorded points. The Sharks goaltenders also represented their countries well. Nabokov allowed two goals on 20 shots, and should not be blamed for any of them. In fact, he was rock solid during the second period when Russia started to fall asleep, and pulled out a few of the pucks that appeared sure to go in. How many times have we seen this scenario this past season? Greiss was no slouch either, as he looked confident in the net, behind a questionable German defense and put up 23 saves against sloppy Sweden. For the detailed up-to-date stats, take a look at Plank's stats page.
The Olympic hockey tournament is starting to slowly pick up its pace. Here is what to look for in next games that are featuring our players.
United States - Norway, noon PT, ch. USA. Joe Pavelski will likely take the ice again on the same line next to Kessel and Malone, as Ron Wilson in a rather shocking move decided to keep the lines the same during the practice today. Maybe if he did it more often back in the day, he'd still be a Sharks coach. However, one of the bigger disappointments of the first game against Switzerland was the absence of his first line on the scoreboard. If things continue this way for a period of two, we'll see some of the old magic from Ron, and Pavs may find himself on the top line, next to Zach Parise and Patrick Kane.
Switzerland - Canada, 4.30pm PT, CNBC. A few of you already mentioned in the previous threads our general disappointment with the media digging Joe Thornton down for posting "only" one assist in the high scoring game against Norway. Wake up, people. It's just one game. ZeroIndulgence wisely pointed the following in the comments:
"Joe got on the scoresheet and his line played well. Reputation or not, the dishonorable mention was just a cheap shot to get some laughs and agreements in the comments section from the East Coast hockey fans."
And shouldn't this be a good time for Joe to return some of the old favors to his old Swiss buddy Jonas Hiller? We sure hope so.
Perhaps equally disturbing was almost a complete silence about the solid performance of Dany Heatley in that game, who scored two goals and once again showed how good he is on an international arena. Because Jarome Iginla scored three, and Sidney Crosby had four assists, they got all the praise in the media. Joe and Dany have a chance to bring all the attention back to them, and that alone is a good enough reason to tune in and catch the latest action.
Slovakia - Russia, 9pm PT, CNBC. Ilya Bryzgalov is in, Evgeni Nabokov is out, which means Nabby will likely start in the most important game of the round robin against the Czechs on Sunday. Slovakia will have something to prove in this game, after losing their first contest to the Czechs, but they get less then 24 hours to recover. On top of that, none of the Russians that played four years ago in Torino have forgotten that Slovakia beat Russia four years ago to start the tournament. Power play performance by Russia will be something to watch for in that game, as Russia went just 1-for-8 on their PP chances against lowly Latvia, forcing Bykov to make a decision that perhaps Russia should have special teams for PP and PK (something that is not frequently practiced in the KHL). Bryzgalov also made a series of negative comments to the Russian press earlier today. As this is his third Olympic games, he called the Vancouver games to be the worst in terms of organization, calling the games "a one big mess" and complaining about all the rules about what should appear on goalie masks, about the general lack of directions and guides in the Olympic village, and about how terrible the food is. Will that in any way affect his performance? And what happens when his comments leak into the Canadian press?
Belorus - Sweden, Friday, noon PT, MSNBC. Douglas Murray takes the ice again, as Sweden has another chance for payback for one of the biggest upsets in the Olympic history, when they lost to Belorussians 3-4 eight years ago in Salt Lake City, with game winning goal scored from the neutral zone. The Swedes looked sloppy against the Germans in their first game and they'll be looking to prove that they're still one of the favorites to win this tournament.
Finland - Germany, Friday, 9pm, MSNBC. If Greiss looked strong against the Swedes, why not continue his dominance and shock the aging Team Finland? Only time and Greiss will tell.