What a week of an Olympic hockey that was. Was it really a week? So much has happened during that time - just ask any Canadian that went from a state of national pride to a state of national despair, as another collapse of epic proportions is looming over men's hockey team. A very similar state was felt by all the Russians after Slovaks beat Team Russian in shootout, but fortunately for their health, Malkin and friends put Russia back on track. Finally, USA is talking hockey once again after they upset Canada in what was one of the best hockey games we've ever seen. I was flying back to San Jose yesterday during USA-Canada game, and five random jerks on the plane told me that Americans won before I finally got to my DVR to watch the game - all unsolicited, I must add. That simply never happens in California.
Yet it's almost hard to believe - the best hockey is still ahead of us. Today marks the start of the knock out stage of the hockey tournament. Although all eyes will be on Canada as they are facing Germany, six other teams take the ice tomorrow during what is promising to be another great long day of hockey.
Belarus - Switzerland, 12pm PT, USA. If I was a American, this is the game I would tune in for, because this game previews Team USA's next opponent. This is one game that's somewhat hard to predict. Team Switzerland did not look bad in any of their games, losing with a respectable score 1-3 to the United States, then almost upseting Canada, and finally beating Norway. However, when you look at the stats, it is not a big surprise that these points came largely through the effort of Jonas Hiller. Sergei Kostitsyn of Montreal Canadanias is one of the few Belorussian names you'll recognize, and he leads Belarus with 5 points. Some distant memories from the past that I tried to erase indicate to me that Hiller has not said his last word in this tournament.
Germany - Canada, 4:30pm PT, CNBC. The big story of this game is that Roberto Luongo gets a call to be the Canadian Messaih, while he tries to solve the Canadian issues in goal, as he's starting in favor of Martin Broduer, who likely played his last Olympic game of his career against USA on Sunday. Bobby Lou will be playing in front of his home crowd, with Canada looking for redemption and hope as they try to earn a ticket to the dream game of the tournament versus Russia. The extra game is actually to Canada's advantage, as they get one more chance to gel together and sort out their issues. Something tells me this one is not going to be close, despite valiant efforts by our own Thomas Greiss. After all, Dany Heatley doesn't care who's in goal.
Latvia - Czech Republic, 7pm PT, CNBC. Latvia so far fielded the worst team of the tournament. They only scored four goals in three games, and allowed 19 (I actually had to pull a calculator for this number). Czechs on the other hand are looking to rebound from the loss to Russia on Sunday. As long as there is no Ovechkin Train heading towards Jagr crossing through the center ice, Prague will be a happy city to be in tonight.
Norway - Slovakia, 9pm PT, CNBC. Those of you who have not seen Slovakia play should tune in for this game. The Slovaks remind me of Dallas Stars from two years ago - very disciplined tight checking team with solid goaltending and a very fast counterattacking offense. In terms of team chemistry, from what I've seen so far, they stand right up there with USA and Finland. Marian Hossa leads Slovakia with 3 points and an impressive 17 shots (2 more than Ovechkin, for comparison). As for Norway - this games marks the last time we get to hear the name Tore Vikingstad called on the air.
This post is your game thread for the first two games. We'll open another thread for the other two.