*DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR GAMES THAT WILL BE RE-AIRED THROUGHOUT THE DAY*
Yesterday afternoon the Men’s portion of the 2014 Olympic winter Ice Hockey games kicked off as David Krejci’s Czech Republic squad took on Loui Eriksson and Team Sweden.
The Swedes jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind two goals from Senators defensemen Erik Karlsson, but the Czech’s made things interesting with two quick second period goals, including former Bruin Jaromir Jagr’s fifth career Olympic goal. But that’s as close as the Czech’s would get as Sweden held on for the 4-2 victory.
Despite just 10 combined NHL players between the two teams,—one from Latvia—Wednesday’s contest between Latvia and Switzerland was an entertaining one. The Swiss got a goal from Predators forward Simon Moser with 7.9 seconds left in regulation to kick off the Olympics with a 1-0 victory.
“I probably never in my life played a game like that, it is the first game,” said Switzerland and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Mark Streit. “It was a tough one. Their goalie played unbelievable. Our goalie played really well too.
“I thought we had a little more scoring chances than they did but they played well. It went to the end. It was a little bit nerve-racking but we stuck with it and stayed positive and it worked out in the end. We got lucky a little bit but sometimes that’s what you need. It is a big relief for us.”
Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller made 21 saves for Switzerland who next will play against Sweden on Friday.
Tuukka Rask got the start for Finland as they kicked off their set of games against a week Austria team. Finland did manage an 8-4 win, but it was a rough Olympic debut for Rask. Tuukka allowed four goals on 18 shots including a goal in the game’s opening minute.
“We weren’t ready; they got the goal and even battled back a couple of times there,” Rask said. “It’s not a good start, but a good thing that we never let our guard down, we just kept going.”
Group A and B kicked off action on Thursday, where no team looked better than the Americans. Behind six second period goals, the United States took down Zdeno Chara and Slovakia, 7-1.
“We talked about how we’re going to play and how we’re going to keep playing, keep going forward, and I loved how we responded not just with the next shift and not just with the goals we got there, but that 10 minutes of hockey there,” said head coach Dan Bylsma.
“We scored some goals, got the second, third and fourth goal, but it was about how we played. We had our best shifts there in the second period playing in the offensive zone. We had some exceptional shifts by hemming them in. That’s the type of team we are and that’s the kind of team we’re going to have to be.”
Next on the docket for the Americans is a date with the host country, Russia on Saturday. Baring anything crazy, the winner of this game should go on to win Group A.
Speaking of Russia, they kicked off pool play against Kings forward Anze Kopitar and Slovenia on Thursday. The game was much closer than it should have been.
“Tension. Warning,” said Red Wings forward and Russia Captain Pavel Datsyuk of the feeling on bench late in the second period as the Russians held just a one-goal lead.
But thanks to two third period tallies, the Russians got the 5-2 victory and avoided any major upset and eased the nerves of the host countries fans.
The final game of the day saw Canada take on Norway, and much like Russia’s game against Slovenia, Canada had issues against a team they should have easily beat. The Canadians did manage to come out of the contest with a 3-1 win, but the game was in no means easy for the heavy favorites. Patrice Bergeron did manage to tally two assists in the win for Canada.
Now with a game in the books for all 12 hockey teams, it’s safe to say of all Bruins in Sochi, Bergeron has gotten off to the best start. Does that surprise anyone?