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2014 Olympics

Canada plans to keep Sweden on the defensive

Saturday, 02.22.2014 / 8:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- Canada arrived at the 2014 Sochi Olympics loaded with offensive superstars.

Canada had 11 of the top 25 scorers in the NHL among its 14 forwards. The rest of the teams in the tournament had a total of nine.

It stood to reason that Canada would be able to steamroll the opposition with its offense.

The Canadians have done that, except they've turned the theory around; they've used offense as their primary source of defense.

Entering the gold-medal game against Sweden on Sunday (7 a.m. ET; NBC, CBC), Canada has scored 14 goals in five games and has allowed three, largely because the puck has spent an inordinate amount of time in the offensive zone without necessarily finding its way into the back of the opposing net.

"I don't think we've had to play a lot [in the] defensive zone, for the most part," Canada captain Sidney Crosby said after practice Saturday. "We've done a good job of getting on the forecheck and possessing the puck. It's a lot better playing that way than having to play in your [defensive] zone."

Backstrom steps into role as No. 1 center for Sweden

Saturday, 02.22.2014 / 7:47 AM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- Alex Ovechkin is the engine for everything with the Washington Capitals, but Nicklas Backstrom has always been the carburetor, finding ways to help make the superstar hum at maximum efficiency.

When Sweden came to the 2014 Sochi Olympics without Henrik Sedin and then lost Henrik Zetterberg after the first game of the tournament, Backstrom was back in a customary place as a No. 1 center. Without the two Henriks, the Swedes went from having three world-class centers to one, and a position of strength became a potential weakness.

To this point it hasn't been a problem, and that's part of why Sweden will play for the gold medal Sunday against Canada at Bolshoy Ice Dome (7 a.m. ET; NBC, CBC).

"I don't feel like I have pressure from outside," Backstrom said. "I always put pressure on myself and have high expectations of myself in a tournament like this or when you go into a new NHL season. That's a similar situation. I think that is enough, to put the pressure and expectations I have for myself. Obviously we have a lot of ice time and the coaching staff believes in us, so it is something we have to take care of."

Price answers numerous questions in win against U.S.

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 5:19 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- Carey Price had never played in a game of this magnitude in his life. Not even close.

Perhaps the gold-medal game of the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championship would rank up there. But as a professional, the closest the Montreal Canadiens goaltender has come to playing a game anywhere near as important as the 2014 Sochi Olympics semifinal were two Game 7s (against the Boston Bruins in 2008 and 2011) in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Price finally found himself on that rather enormous stage Friday against the United States, the same country he beat for the World Junior gold medal in 2007. And he looked as though he was made for the moment.

Price made 31 saves to backstop a 1-0 Canada win, fighting through traffic and screens to keep some early U.S. chances from going in and remaining sharp the rest of the way as his teammates began to carry the play for longer stretches.

Gold-medal game could spark new rivalry

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 4:43 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI – There have been plenty of surprising results at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but in the end the two countries with the deepest rosters have advanced to the gold-medal game.

Russia was a fascinating story because of the pressure of being at home. Finland became a great story because of the injuries it overcame. The United States picked the wrong time for a power outage.

But Canada and Sweden have been consistent in this tournament, and earned places in the final with strong defensive efforts Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

"The Swedes are egoless," said Canada coach Mike Babcock, who coaches six players on Sweden's roster with the Detroit Red Wings. "They play well. They play structured. They don't give anything up for free. Their power play is very dangerous. It should be fun."

Analysis: Canada beat U.S. at their own game

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 4:25 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

SOCHI -- For four games here, the United States made its opponents nervous.

With a bevy of speedy forwards, the U.S. forced teams like Slovenia and Slovakia to start on their heels, which ultimately cost them dearly. Even powerful Russia was caught flat-footed a few times in their epic preliminary-round encounter, won by the United States in a shootout. In the quarterfinal, the Czech Republic had no answers for the group of fleet-footed forwards at the disposal of American coach Dan Bylsma.

On Friday, though, Canada was a far more difficult nut to crack. The Canadian team doesn't panic. It has the skill and speed to go toe-to-toe against any team in the 2014 Sochi Olympic field. It also has the pedigree of multiple championships at major international tournaments, including a gold medal four years ago, won against many of these same American players.

Most importantly, Canada had a game plan it knew would neutralize much of the American speed.

Analysis: One wrong turn doomed Finland in semifinal

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 11:42 AM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- The cruelty of a single-elimination tournament is that a single mistake can cost you a chance at history.

Finland's gold-medal drought will continue at the 2014 Sochi Olympics because center Jarkko Immonen turned his head for one second.

With the Olympic semifinal between Sweden and Finland tied 1-1 in the second period Friday, Winnipeg Jets center Olli Jokinen was called for tripping at 14:39.

It was Sweden's second, and as it turned out last, power play of the game, and Immonen was given a mission by Finland coach Erkka Westerlund.

Do not let Erik Karlsson out of your sight.

Sweden penalty kill the difference in semifinal win

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 10:57 AM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

SOCHI -- Sweden defenseman Niklas Kronwall was not about to call the game his team played Friday perfect.

"I don't know if it was perfect but we did a lot of good things out there," said Kronwall, the Swedish captain.

Whatever quibbles Kronwall had after Sweden claimed a 2-1 victory against rival Finland at Bolshoy Ice Dome to book a place in the 2014 Sochi Olympics gold-medal game, he had no complaints about his team's penalty kill.

In fact, Kronwall acknowledged Sweden's ability to succeed shorthanded likely was one of the biggest reasons his team escaped with a one-goal victory.

Practices moved to let players see U.S.-Canada game

Friday, 02.21.2014 / 2:06 AM / 2014 Olympics


Taylor Hall would much rather stay in bed. But the Edmonton Oilers forward will get up early for a good reason.

The Oilers are one of many NHL teams to move up their practice time Friday morning so their players can watch the semifinal game between Canada and the United States at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Edmonton will practice at 8 a.m. MT prior to the 10 a.m. faceoff (noon ET; NBCSN, CBC).

Poulin rallies Canada women to overtime win, gold

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 6:51 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- For the fourth consecutive Winter Olympics, the Canada women's hockey team celebrated while the United States was forced to watch.

This one proved to be more incredible, or perhaps more painful, than the rest.

Marie-Philip Poulin scored a power-play goal 8:10 into overtime, her second goal of the game, to give Canada a 3-2 overtime victory against the archrival United States and the gold medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics in front of 10,639 fans at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

"It's an amazing moment," Poulin said. "We all know it was a team effort. We never gave up. I'm so happy we got it back. It was a great journey."

Koivu resting as Finland preps for Olympic semifinal

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 5:49 PM / 2014 Olympics

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Saku Koivu won't be setting his alarm for the Finland-Sweden semifinal matchup in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The game will be shown Friday at 4 a.m. PT (TSN, NBCSN), at which time the Anaheim Ducks veteran forward plans on remaining tucked under the covers in his Orange County home.

"I'll probably tape it," Koivu said. "I won't get up at 4 a.m., but maybe a little later on."

Koivu may have withdrawn from consideration for the Finnish team, but the former Olympic captain retains a lot of pride for his countrymen. At age 39, he opted not to play in what would have been his fifth Olympics, a decision he called among the most difficult of his career. He has captained the national team in every international tournament he has played in since 1994, but felt he needed the time to prepare for the rest of the NHL season with the Ducks.

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