BostonBruins.com – After 18 games in five days at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, preliminary round play has concluded, with the playoffs starting on Tuesday, February 18.
After the round-robin play, Loui Eriksson and Team Sweden earned the top spot heading into the playoff rounds, with USA close behind, Canada in third place and Finland in fourth.
Those top four teams automatically get a bye to the quarterfinals, which kick off on Wednesday, February 19.
Team USA and Canada both finished with eight points right below Sweden’s nine, but goal differential is the next tie-breaker. The U.S. finished the preliminary round with a plus-11 goal differential, while Canada finished with plus-9. Finland came in at seven points, with a plus-eight goal differential.
BostonBruins.com - According to the NHL.com staff in Sochi, Russia, Tuukka Rask will start for Finland against Canada and Bruins' teammate Patrice Bergeron today (Sunday), as announced by Finnish Head Coach Erkka Westerlund.
Puck drops at noon ET (USA Network) between the Group B opponents at the Olympics.
Rask started Finland's opening game on Thursday, in which they earned an 8-4 win over Austria. He got the night off the following day, as Kari Lehtonen backstopped his squad to a 6-1 victory over Norway. Antti Niemi will be his backup on Sunday against Canada.
BostonBruins.com – With Sweden leading 4-3 over a Latvian team that has consistently been putting up a fight in Sochi, Loui Eriksson was wide open at the goal mouth.
The winger fired a one-timer, point-blank, off a feed from Daniel Sedin through the crease, for his best chance yet. But Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis made it across, robbing him of his first goal of the tournament.
Sweden would go on to win 5-3 over Latvia, and though it wasn’t a dominating performance, it kept them undefeated.
Eriksson and his squad finished the preliminary round 3-0 at the top of Group C with nine points, above Switzerland (6), the Czech Republic (3) and Latvia (0). The win gave them a bye to the quarterfinals, which take place on Wednesday, February 19.
In the win, Eriksson fired three shots on goal, logging 18:20 in ice time, serving yet again as one of the most utilized forwards in all situations, along with Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson. He logged the most ice-time of all forwards in the first period (7:13).
BostonBruins.com - All of the Bruins' Olympic squads who played on Friday in Sochi took home victories, with Loui Eriksson helping Sweden to a 1-0 win over Switzerland.
The victory kept Team Sweden undefeated after they kicked off the Olympics with a 4-2 win against the Czech Republic.
Eriksson finished the game with 21:10 in ice time, second most among forwards, upped from the 18:37 he played in the opener. He remained on the right wing alongside center Nicklas Backstrom and Daniel Sedin.
Once again, he led all Sweden skaters with the most ice-time in the third period (8:02). Like on the Bruins, Eriksson is utilized in all situations, manning the net-front spot on the power play and serving as a go-to penalty killer.
BostonBruins.com - Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuukka Rask has been checking in amidst his busy schedule with Team Finland.
The netminder recently made his Olympic debut on Thursday, February 13, in Finland's 8-4 win over Austria (in which 'Cool Hand Tuukk' said he "wasn't nervous at all). Despite the offensive performance, Rask and Finland were looking for much better play defensively. They got that in a 6-1 win over Norway, though he had the night off before starting between the pipes against Canada in their final preliminary round game.
Off the ice, Tuukka has shared his experience through photos...
BostonBruins.com - Team Canada earned their second straight win at the Olympics on Friday in Sochi, with a 6-0 shutout of Austria.
Patrice Bergeron may not have put up two assists like he did in their opening 3-1 win over Norway, but the Bruins' alternate captain continued to show his versatility and trustworthy play at both ends.
He remained at right wing on a line with center John Tavares and Jamie Benn. Like in the opener, they continued to create chances nearly every time they hit the ice.
With the trio utilized in a third line capacity, as opposed to the fourth line like in the first game, Bergeron saw his minutes jump up from 10:59 to 13:14. He fired two shots on goal, and went 71-percent on the faceoff dot, winning five of seven draws, which predominantly came on the penalty kill.
BostonBruins.com - By the time the East Coast was waking up on Friday, David Krejci had already helped the Czech Republic to their first win of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The Bruins' alternate captain got the Czechs started, assisting on their initial goal in the eventual 4-2 win over Latvia.
At 10:10 into the first period, Krejci cut into the zone and crisscrossed with Martin Erat just inside the offensive blueline, backhanding a quick drop pass to him, which he got through Latvia's defense from the high slot.
Krejci finished with 15:18 in ice time off of 19 shifts, and went 71-percent on the faceoff dot, winning five of seven draws.
BostonBruins.com - With Team Canada's first game against Norway on tap Thursday in Sochi, Patrice Bergeron was prepared for a different role than what he's used to in Black & Gold.
"I think so far it's more defensive, penalty kill, and I'm playing the wing right now, so we'll see what happens," Bergeron had said, of his projected role on a deep Canadian team.
"Obviously I'm willing to do whatever that they want me to do. They obviously want me to play my game, and once I'm called for the time to go on the ice, it's time to do the job and play to my fullest."
|Bookmark "Bruins in Sochi" Homepage »|
But that didn't halt any production from the forward on Thursday, as Canada opened the Olympics with a 3-1 win over Norway. Bergeron provided two assists in the victory, including the primary assist on the game-winner. With the two points, he surpassed his Olympic total through seven games (one assist) from Vancouver in 2010.
"Well, whatever it takes, right?" Bergeron told NBC Olympics' Pierre McGuire following the game, live on USA Network. "Just happy to be here and try to chip in any way I can, and you know, if it's the right side or the left side, it doesn't matter for me."
BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask made his Olympic debut for Team Finland on Thursday in Sochi, Russia, backstopping his squad to an 8-4 win over Austria in their opener.
For those who managed the 3:00 a.m. wakeup call on the East Coast, they saw a fairly calm, confident netminder in the Suomi blue, despite what showed up on the stat sheet as four goals allowed on 20 shots.
"Wasn't nervous at all," Rask told me after the game.
BostonBruins.com - Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron knows it will be difficult to top winning the gold medal he took home from his first Olympics with Team Canada in Vancouver in 2010.
But he and his Canadian teammates have their sights set on just that.
"Obviously Vancouver was a great experience, was amazing to be in your home country and representing your country and be able to win gold," he said before heading to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"So hopefully we're able to do that again, but we have a great challenge in front of us, and we're looking forward to it."
| Bookmark "Bruins in Sochi" Homepage >>
Patrice may have left his Black & Gold back in Boston for the next two weeks, as did his fellow Bruins Olympians, but the passion he has for the game never changes, whether he's in his usual Spoked-B or the red and white maple leaf logo.
On Wednesday, I caught up with the Bruin after he took in the hard-fought spectacle of the Canada-USA women's hockey preliminary matchup, in which the Canadians defeated Team USA, 3-2. He's been in Sochi since Monday, settling in and getting ready for game action.
Below are his thoughts on the experience…
Heading into Canada's first game against Norway on Thursday, February 13 (12:00 p.m. ET, live on USA Network), the usual centerman's role was on the right wing, alongside John Tavares at center and Jamie Benn on the left wing.