Team USA has been a pleasant surprise at the 2014 Winter Olympics, but will need to keep it going. On Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014, single elimination games begin.
Sweden, Team USA, Team Canada, and Finland, are the top four seeds and have earned a bye into the quarterfinal round.
On Tuesday, the eight lower-seeded teams will play one game to determine which four will advance to the quarterfinal round.
Qualification Round games/times on Tues, Feb 18:
3:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN – Slovenia vs Austria; winner will face Sweden (#1 seed)
Noon ET on NBCSN – Czech Republic vs Slovakia; winner will face Team USA (#2 seed)
Noon ET on MSNBC – Switzerland vs Latvia; winner will face Team Canada (#3 seed)
7:30 a.m. ET on USA Network – Russia vs Norway; winner will face Finland (#4 seed)
Quarterfinal Round games/times on Wed, Feb 19:
Sweden will play at 3:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Finland will play at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN
Team Canada will play at Noon ET on USA Network
Team USA will play at Noon a.m. ET on MSNBC
Team USA is in great position. They have played above expectations, and team chemistry should be even better during single-elimination week. Jonathan Quick has been a beast in goal, and at this time the overall grit and toughness of the team is the best in this tournament.
Sweden is going to have to overcome the absence of Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Johan Franzen. Fortunately, their most important Henrik ( goalie Lundqvist) is healthy and on top of his game. The Swedes have not looked overly impressive thus far, but with Lundqvist in net, they don’t need to score that many goals.
Team Canada is going to have to find more scoring. They have scored only 11 goals, and Sidney Crosby has only two assists. This could be a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, if this team does find it’s chemistry, they should steamroll.
Finland may have the most overall team speed in the Olympics. They play very well on the big ice, and are more than capable of knocking off any team on any given day. They still remember the 2006 Olympic games, when a broken stick in the faceoff circle led directly to the OT goal by Sweden in the Gold medal game.
Slovenia shocked the world with a 3-1 upset of Slovakia this past weekend. They seem to be on a collision course with Sweden in the quarterfinal, which would provide an intriguing matchup. Anze Kopitar will need to continue operating at a high level in order to keep hope alive.
Russia has not lived up to expectations, but should get by Norway and provide an entertaining game with Finland on Wednesday.
Slovakia and the Czech Republic were considered to be two of the stronger teams coming in. This will be the most intense of the qualifying round games. It will be a fun game to watch, and in the end it should be Slovakia advancing to take on Team USA.
Switzerland should get by Latvia and earn a shot at Team Canada in the quarterfinal. With Jonas Hiller in net, the Swiss will be a very tough out.