After watching the group stage of the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics there have been a lot of surprises, both good (Slovenia and Latvia have played well) and bad (Russia and Slovakia have not). With the knockout stage beginning on Tuesday, the tension will be ratcheted up another notch and so will the excitement. As we look ahead, though, the first week of the games gave us plenty to talk about.
Here are the things I've noticed so far at the Sochi Games:
THE U.S. HAS BEEN THE BEST TEAM
We all knew the Americans were a talented team and after their performance in 2010 in Vancouver they were clearly going to be a medal contender, but I know I still thought the Canadians and the Swedes would have a leg up. That hasn't been the case. The way the United States has played, its goal-scoring, its defense, I just think they've been the best all around. They're the farthest ahead, they have the most chemistry and they have the most lines clicking.
That said, the United States didn't draw the ideal road for the knockout stages. The Americans will have to play the winner of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and both of those teams have been disappointing so far, but because neither Canada nor Finland won in regulation on Sunday, the U.S. can't avoid Canada until the gold medal game and instead is on track to face its rival up north in the semis.