"Expectations are we go there and try to win the gold, obviously," Vanek said. "We're happy to be there … we know we're the big underdog, but it's fun. We have guys who can play. We have to play smart and for us we need good goaltending. If we can get goaltending and get a lot of big saves, you just never know in this game."
"I was pretty excited and very honored," Smith said. "I heard it's going to be a lot different from Vancouver. Obviously it's not the Olympics in your home country, but it will definitely be a new experience for me and probably a lot of guys, and I'm looking forward to it."
NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, sets up a three-game night of NHL action. It's Wednesday Night Rivalry, this week featuring the New York Rangers at the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, and NBCSN analyst Pierre McGuire joins us from the Arena Cam at United Center to preview this Original Six matchup.
Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith was named to Canada's roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Tuesday. He'll join the program on the phone to talk about the exciting news as well as the play of the Coyotes. We'll also talk to New York Islanders forward Thomas Vanek.
This week's EJ5 will focus on players who should be going to Sochi.
It will be the second start and third game for Kuemper, who is 0-1-0 with a 6.10 goals-against average and .625 save percentage. His other start came Oct. 15 when he allowed three goals on seven shots against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kuemper has been solid with the Iowa Wild, Minnesota's American Hockey League team, going 7-10-0 with a 2.47 GAA and .929 save percentage in 17 games.
Niklas Backstrom will serve as the backup Tuesday. According to the (Minneapolis) Star-Tribune, Backstrom has stiffness in his abdominal region and spent extra time in practice working with the coaching staff.
San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture will undergo a surgical procedure Wednesday on an upper-body injury and a timetable for his return to the lineup will not be available until after the procedure, general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement.
"For the past several weeks, Logan has been dealing and playing with an upper-body injury," Wilson said. "Despite his efforts to play through it, the injury has not responded as we had hoped and Logan has made the decision to undergo a surgical procedure to repair the problem.
"While the timing of the procedure is not ideal, Logan feels it is in his and the team's best interest to get the problem rectified now. Logan will undergo surgery on Wed., Jan. 8 and we will have a better update on the recovery time following the procedure."
According to multiple media reports, Couture has a hand injury and could be sidelined for 3-4 weeks.
"I wasn't practicing, had to numb it for games," he told the San Jose Mercury News. "It just got to the point where I couldn't do that for the entire season. We figured we wanted to be back for the end of the year, so we timed it this way."
Okposo missed the Islanders' game Monday against the Dallas Stars to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's daughter, Elliana.
While the Islanders didn't miss him much in their 7-3 win against the Stars, it's certainly nice to have a player second on the club in goals (16) and points (42) back in the lineup.
Russia will be able match high-end skill with anyone at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but questions will continue to linger about the team's depth after the host country's 25-man roster was announced Tuesday.
Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk lead a roster that will be trying to win despite the pressure of being on home ice. The Russians also will be trying to make up for a disappointing performance four years ago in Vancouver when they were blitzed by Canada in the quarterfinals.
Those four superstars will be expected to provide a lot of offense, along with former Nashville Predators forward Alexander Radulov. Andrei Markov of the Montreal Canadiens and Fedor Tyutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets are the two veteran NHL players on the defense corps. Semyon Varlamov (Colorado Avalanche) and Sergei Bobrovsky (Columbus Blue Jackets) are among the three goaltenders, while 2010 starter Evgeni Nabokov (New York Islanders) and backup Ilya Bryzgalov (Edmonton Oilers) did not make the team this time around.
NHL Live, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, has the reaction to Tuesday's announcement of the 25-man roster for Canada heading to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, as well as the rosters for Russia, Sweden and Finland.
In addition, Dallas Stars defenseman Brendan Dillon will be on set.
Sweden announced its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics on Tuesday, naming a team heavy on NHL players, including veteran Detroit Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson, who gets a last shot at Olympic glory.
Sweden will have 12 players back from the team that lost in the quarterfinals four years ago in Vancouver.
Among that group is Alfredsson, who will be playing in his fifth Olympic Games. He had three goals in four games in 2010 in Vancouver. The 41-year-old forward has 11 goals and 30 points in 37 games this season with the Red Wings.
He'll be joined in Sochi by five Red Wings teammates, including four who were on the team in Vancouver: Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, defenseman Niklas Kronwall and forwards Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg. Also named to the team was defenseman Jonathan Ericsson.
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He seemed to thrive on his own and didn't really need any push from me. I certainly don't want to get in the way of the coaches. You see how that goes sometimes. I never really worried about it and just enjoyed the ride.