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2014 Olympics

'Finland's way' proves good enough once again

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 1:32 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- One of these days, people will learn to stop underestimating Finland at the Olympics.

The team that has won more Olympic men's hockey medals than any other nation since NHL players were first involved in 1998 guaranteed itself a chance to play for another one at the 2014 Sochi Olympics after beating the host Russians 3-1 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.

"Every time we go into tournaments like this we're disrespected," Finland center Olli Jokinen said. "But the good thing for our country no matter what the names are on the back, Finland's going to play the same way no matter who we have here. We could have 20 different guys here and the results would be the same.

"Finland's going to play Finland's way."

Finland's way may have toppled the Russian machine Wednesday, but the doubts surrounding Finland's chances here began the day the team was announced Jan. 7.

Analysis: Lack of adjustments dooms Russia

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 12:43 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- The Russia players raised their sticks to the crowd and skated away, right out of their Olympics, away from a path paved with dejection and disillusionment.

The country's men's hockey team was the de facto host of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the darlings, the welcoming committee here on the coast of the Black Sea. The entire team gathered for a press conference last week in front of nearly 500 people and told the world about the tournament it felt it should, and would, win.

They were wrong. So wrong.

Instead these Russians were everything their harshest critics believed and rarely met the expectations they harbored for themselves.

The Olympics are no more for them because they scored 12 goals in five games, went 3-for-19 on the power play and were knocked out by Finland 3-1 in a quarterfinal-round game Wednesday. It was a fitting culmination for how the Russians played during the past seven days at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

Kopitar proud of Slovenia's run at Olympics

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 7:08 AM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- Anze Kopitar was crushed with disappointment yet swelled with pride, contrasting feelings he had never really had before Wednesday.

On one hand, the Los Angeles Kings center, the only current NHL player representing Slovenia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, had just bowed out of the tournament via a 5-0 loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals. Regardless if Slovenia was not expected to be among the final eight teams standing here, nobody wants to lose, least of all a guy who has been to the top of the mountain in the NHL as a Stanley Cup champion.

"At the end of the day, it always stinks losing," Kopitar said.

Kessel MVP as NHL.com picks mid-tourney awards

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 5:27 PM / 2014 Olympics


SOCHI -- Phil Kessel has carried his red-hot play from the NHL season into the 2014 Sochi Olympics to help the United States prove its status as a gold-medal contender. With seven points in three games, the Toronto Maple Leafs right wing not only leads the Olympics in scoring, he is the front-runner for tournament MVP, according to votes cast by the four members of NHL.com's Olympic coverage team.

Kessel received 11 out of a possible 12 points, including three first-place votes, in the very unofficial ballots submitted by Arpon Basu, Corey Masisak, Shawn Roarke and Dan Rosen.

Czech Republic excited for chance to knock off U.S.

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 4:56 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- Czech Republic captain Tomas Plekanec was asked after his team's 5-3 qualifying round win against rival Slovakia on Tuesday how it matched up with the United States, its next opponent in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

Plekanec started to laugh.

"Well, they're the favorites, no doubt about that," he said. "They're rested; they should win [Wednesday]. But we're definitely going out there as a team to play the best game of the tournament for us."

On paper, there should be no way the Czechs will be able to compete with the high-octane Americans, who tied for the tournament lead in scoring through the preliminary round and practiced Tuesday while their opponents played a hard-fought game that they almost let slip away in the third period.

That reality doesn't appear lost on the Czechs. But neither does the reality that if they win one game they are in the semifinals at the Olympics and are guaranteed a shot to play for a medal.

Just one game.

Loss 'crushing' for Swiss team expecting more

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 3:42 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- Stunned. Disappointed. Angry.

Pick your synonym to any of the above words and it fits the description for how Switzerland's national team players felt late Tuesday night as they dejectedly walked off the ice and right out of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the tournament they thought would put them on the map with the rest of the big boys in international hockey.

"It's crushing," Swiss defenseman Mark Streit said, summing up the feeling his teammates had following their 3-1 loss to Latvia in the qualification round.

This wasn't supposed to happen; not to the Swiss, not against Latvia, not with Canada looming in the quarterfinals and a chance to cement their status as a legitimate international contender.

Russia offense still unbalanced heading into quarters

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 12:45 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- Offense wasn't expected to be an issue for the Russians at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but in the past three games it has been.

Now the host team will face its toughest defensive test yet.

Russia has scored six goals in the past three games, and two of those came late in a 4-0 win against Norway that already was decided. After losing 3-2 in a shootout to the United States and defeating Slovakia 1-0 in a shootout, the Russians continued to dictate the play as they have for long stretches of every game, but the goals are not coming as expected.

U.S. focused on pushing the pace even faster

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 12:11 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- While their neighbors to the north are focused on figuring out line combinations and how and where they should attack heading into the quarterfinals, the United States simply is focused on playing faster than it has been in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Speed kills, even on the big ice, but U.S. coach Dan Bylsma doesn't think his team has been killing it with enough speed in the tournament despite winning all three preliminary-round games and scoring 14 goals in regulation.

"I would say there are opportunities that we have missed that we can play quickly, play north, push the pace up the ice," Bylsma said. "That's something we did well at times; I just think we can be better at realizing that."

Bylsma spent Tuesday emphasizing the speed game he'd like to see his team play Wednesday in the quarterfinals against the Czech Republic (Noon ET, USA, TSN2).

Predators GM Poile expected back at work this week

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 10:46 AM / 2014 Olympics

The Nashville Predators announced Tuesday that general manager David Poile is expected to return to work this week.

Poile was struck in the face by a puck Feb. 6 while attending a Predators morning skate at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. He was taken to a St. Paul-area hospital and had two surgeries the next day to repair a fractured orbital bone and fractures in his nose. Poile returned to his home in Nashville on Feb. 9.

The injuries prevented Poile, general manager for the United States Olympic team, from attending the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Lundqvist in net the constant that powers Sweden

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 8:18 AM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- Near the end of Sweden's practice Tuesday, the team's goaltending coach was on the ice using an iPad to film a few drills involving New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist said he doesn't normally see video of practices in New York, but it's a good way for him to monitor his net coverage and the angles at which he receives shot attempts with a couple of days between games.

The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner has had a strong start to the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but like his teammates still is seeking improvements.

"I think we feel like we can do better, but at the same time we have all the points we wanted," Lundqvist said. "We are winning games. The most important thing in a tournament like this is to find ways to win even if you're not at your best. I hope we can continue to get better every game."

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