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2014 Olympics

Three keys for Finland, Sweden in Olympic semifinal

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 3:18 PM / 2014 Olympics

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

SOCHI -- The rivalry between Finland and Sweden is commonly compared to one between a younger and older brother.

Except now, the younger brother has come of age.

No country can match the three Olympic medals Finland has won since NHL players were first included at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.

One of those medals came at the 2006 Turin Olympics when Finland lost the gold-medal game 3-2 to big brother Sweden, but the Finns have grown up considerably since then.

"You know, I played them my first time in the World Championships in '95 in Sweden, and they ended up winning their first World Championship," Sweden forward Daniel Alfredsson said. "They've had tremendous success here in the Olympics, we've met them pretty much every time, and I don't think it's so much big brother, little brother any more. It's more healthy rivals that are very proud of their hockey team, and also really happy to represent their country. They know how much it means."

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Three keys for Canada, U.S. in Olympic semifinal

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 2:40 PM / 2014 Olympics

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

SOCHI -- The bragging rights at stake Friday when Canada and the United States renew their rivalry in the semifinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics (Noon ET, NBCSN, CBC) extend far beyond the ice and the gold medal they hope to be wearing when they land in North America early Monday morning.

They extend into dressing rooms from Los Angeles to New York, from Vancouver to Montreal. They extend to teammates in the NHL who have become rivals in the Olympics only to become teammates once again next week.

Nine NHL teams will have players from both sides in the game Friday, including five players from the St. Louis Blues and four from the Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins. The New York Rangers would have four as well, but Derek Stepan is expected to be a healthy scratch for the United States.

"You want those bragging rights," Canada and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "For the rest of the season, for the rest of your life, really.

"I want to beat them so badly."

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Predators' Poile back at work, cheering on U.S.

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 1:14 PM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

Two weeks after a puck to the face left Nashville Predators general manager David Poile with a variety of injuries, he was pleased to be back at work Thursday.

The architect behind the U.S. Olympic team was forced to stay home rather than join the Americans at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Now that he's back in the office, Poile said he is happy to see the Predators skating again and overjoyed with the performance of the U.S. men's team, which plays Canada in the semifinals Friday (noon ET, NBCSN, CBC).

The puck to the face while attending Predators practice in Minneapolis, Minn., on Feb. 7 left Poile with a fractured orbital bone and multiple nose fractures. He underwent an additional procedure on his eye last Friday. Poile has no sight in his right eye, but doctors are hopeful he will start to regain it at some point.

"It's been a long two weeks. A really fluky accident up in Minneapolis. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time," Poile told the Predators website while sporting an eye patch and a considerable amount of medical tape on his nose. "I'm on the mend. Every day is getting a little bit better and I'm trying to feel like my old self again and starting to get excited about when the season resumes and the Predators playoff push resumes. I'm really excited about the Olympics now."

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Swiss women rally in third, edge Sweden for bronze

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 10:34 AM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

More strong goaltending from Florence Schelling and a four-goal third-period rally led Switzerland's women's hockey team to the first Olympic medal in the program's history.

Jessica Lutz scored the go-ahead goal with 6:17 remaining as the Swiss defeated Sweden 4-3 at Bolshoy Ice Dome on Thursday in the bronze-medal game at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Canada won the gold later Thursday with a 3-2 overtime win against the United States.

Lutz scored to put Switzerland ahead 3-2 and Alina Muller, at 15 the youngest player in the tournament, added an empty-net goal with 1:07 left that ended up as the game-winner after Sweden's Pernilla Winberg beat Schelling with 43.7 seconds to play.

It's the first medal earned by a Swiss hockey team at the Olympics since the men's team won bronze as the hosts at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime game, so we knew we had to give everything we had," Switzerland's Sara Benz told the IIHF website. "We did that. We have a great team and every girl deserves the medal."

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Obama, Harper make wagers on USA-Canada games

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 10:29 AM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

The stakes for the United States vs. Canada gold-medal game in women's hockey and semifinal in men's hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics have been ratcheted up a notch.

Now it's a matter of political pride, and there are a couple of cases of beer riding on the results.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper are making a pair of friendly wagers. A case of beer is on the line when the U.S. women meet Canada on Thursday (noon ET, NBCSN, TSN) to decide women's gold and again Friday when the men's teams play for a spot in the final (noon ET, NBCSN, CBC).

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Islanders captain Tavares out for season

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 9:30 AM / 2014 Olympics

NHL.com

New York Islanders captain John Tavares sustained a torn MCL and torn meniscus in his knee Wednesday at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and will miss the remainder of the NHL season.

Tavares may need surgery; he is expected to be ready by training camp in September.

Tavares, playing for Canada, took a hard hit from Latvia defenseman Arturs Kulda in the second period and struggled to get back to the bench before leaving for the dressing room.

The center had no points in four games in Sochi but a plus-3 rating and six shots on goal averaging 10:39 of ice time.

He is third in the NHL with 66 points in 59 games this season.

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Selanne has 'smile on my face' throughout Olympics

Thursday, 02.20.2014 / 3:30 AM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- Beads of sweat continued to stream down Teemu Selanne's face several minutes after the game had ended, and his upper left eyelid was a few shades of red or purple and slightly swollen.

Selanne looked tired, but not so much that his demeanor could be affected. He has been one of the great ambassadors for hockey and for Finland during his career, and moments after his country defeated Russia on its soil Wednesday night in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, he beamed while discussing the state of both his passions.

"Finnish hockey has improved so much," Selanne said. "I remember watching when I was a little kid [Sergei] Makarov, [Vladimir] Krutov, [Igor] Larionov, [Alexei] Kasatonov and [Slava] Fetisov. They were the best line in the world, and it was fun to watch how easy everything was for them. It is hard to believe that we can now compete with the best Russian players in the world. We have come a long way. I'm very proud of our hockey. When we came here, nobody believed in us and it doesn't matter. Our team believes, and I always say the gap is not very big with these top teams. It is a good feeling."

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Canada to face different challenge against U.S.

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 5:41 PM / 2014 Olympics

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- The United States cruised through its three preliminary-round games and one quarterfinal matchup by outscoring its opponents 19-6. Canada eked out back-to-back one-goal wins, including an overtime victory against Finland in the preliminary round, to make it this far.

As the teams prepare to play Friday at the 2014 Sochi Olympics with an appearance in the gold-medal game on the line, it remains to be seen if all those previous games were a harbinger or irrelevant.

Hindsight will likely produce quite the narrative after hockey's two North American powers play thousands of miles from home in the semifinals of this tournament. Will Canada's trouble scoring prove to be its undoing, or has the United States still not faced a team with legitimate defensive acumen?

The Canadians arrive at the precipice of returning to the gold-medal game with 13 goals in four games, and four in the past two. They will face the high-flying Americans, who have racked up goals against every opponent save for Russia, who they still beat 3-2 in a shootout.

"We play a U.S. team that seems to score real easy. We haven't scored real easy, but we'll be ready to play," Canada coach Mike Babcock said after his team collected a 2-1 victory Wednesday against Latvia. "I thought that the adversity that we faced tonight was a real positive thing for us, just like the game against Finland. So to me that's a positive thing. We plan on getting better each and every day."

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Confident U.S. ready for another crack at Canada

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 4:41 PM / 2014 Olympics

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

SOCHI -- The United States men's hockey team has waited for this for four long years, ever since Sidney Crosby's golden goal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics ended the dream of the upstart Americans in 2010.

Now, thanks to a convincing 5-2 victory against the Czech Republic on Wednesday night at Shayba Arena in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Sochi Olympics men's hockey tournament, the Americans get the opponent they want, Canada, even if it is a round early.

"We were destined and on a crash course to face each other," said American goalie Jonathan Quick, who made 21 saves to tame the Czechs. "It happens to be in the semifinals, not the finals like Vancouver."

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Canada, U.S. face off in anticipated women's final

Wednesday, 02.19.2014 / 2:05 PM / 2014 Olympics

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The matchup most expected when the women's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics started is the one that will take place Thursday when the United States and Canada play for the gold medal (Noon ET, NBC, CBC).

It's a white-hot rivalry that has seen the kind of physical play and anger that wouldn't be out of place in a Stanley Cup Playoff game. The teams have met in the finals of all 16 IIHF Women's World Championships. Canada won the first nine, but the United States has taken five of the past seven tournaments. They've also played for the gold medal three times in the four Olympics that have featured women's hockey; the U.S. won the first tournament in 1998 but Canada has won the past three.

"I think intense is probably a better word than hate because we all do respect one another at the end of the day," U.S. forward Hilary Knight said. "They're at the top of their game and we're at the top of ours. It's a great battle of the border there. It's definitely a hot ticket."

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2014 OLYMPICS POLL