Switzerland-Norway a battle for third in Group A
Saturday, 02.20.2010 / 12:00 PM
Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing EditorNorway (0-0-0-2, 0 points) vs. Switzerland (0-0-1-1, 1 point)
NOTE: records are presented as three-point wins (regulation time), two-point wins (OT or shootout), one-point losses (OT or shootout), zero-point losses (regulation time).
What to watch --
This will be an interesting game to watch, if for no other reason than the fact that it will most likely be a more European style than any of the other games in the tournament. There are virtually no NHL players in this game. The Norwegians don't have a single one on their roster, although they do have minor-league defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and former NHLer Patrick Thoresen, who is now a star in the KHL. For the Swiss, No. 1 defenseman Mark Streit and goalie Jonas Hiller are the only two NHL players. Regardless, both of these teams can skate and there is much at stake. The winner of this game will finish third in Group A and have a slightly easier road to the quarterfinal portion of the tournament. The loser will play most likely play the second-place finisher from Group B or Group C.
Last game --
Norway lost to the United States, 6-1, on Thursday; Switzerland dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Canada on Thursday.
The Norwegians have found bright spots in both of their Group A games so far, holding the powerful Canadians without a goal for the first 22 minutes of their game on Tuesday. Thursday, it was merely a 3-1 deficit against the Americans with 6 minutes remaining in the game, before a late three-goal outburst made the scoreline seem more unseemly than it was. But the time for moral victories is gone. This is a game the Norwegians can entertain thoughts of winning. It will require their best game of the tournament by far, and it will be interesting to see if the Norwegians have any gas left in the tank. Mats Zuccarello Aasen was their most dangerous offensive player Thursday and Tollefsen added some sandpaper on D in his first appearance of these Olympics.
The Swiss have done everything but win in their first two games, pushing the Canadians to a shootout and scaring the Americans, as well, before falling 3-1. Switzerland feels confident it can take this game against Norway, but they know they will be forced to play differently against the defense-first Norwegians. "Norway will present different challenges for us," Swiss coach Ralph Krueger said. "We will be playing with the puck a lot more in this game." Hiller has been amazing for the Swiss, allowing just five goals on 70 shots against the Americans and Canadians. Streit, meanwhile, has been a workhorse on the blue, averaging almost 24 minutes a game. Among the Euro-based players, Ivo Ruthemann and Roman Wick, each of whom scored against Canada, have been the most dangerous forwards.
Total NHL players on rosters --
Norway: 0. Switzerland: 2.
Puck Drop --
The Swiss still have designs of causing trouble in this tournament. To do that, they want to finish third in the group to get a better seed in the qualification tournament and, then, hopefully make it to the quarterfinals. "This is our last game of the regular season and then we get ready for the playoffs," Krueger said.
NHL.com Prediction --
After two bitter losses, there is danger of a letdown on the part of the Swiss. But there is too much at stake here, and the Swiss will find a way to grit out a win. It won't be pretty -- and it rarely is when scoring goals is a life-and-death struggle -- but the Swiss will win by at least two goals.