Olympic Preliminary Wrap-Up
Olympic hockey heads into the playoff rounds.
BostonBruins.com – As the preliminary round finished up last night, the Bruins in Vancouver are fairly evenly spread throughout the standings. Four rounds of play remain until the medals are awarded and the 2010 Winter Olympics come to a close.
David Krejci’s Czech Republic squad finished at second place in Group B, putting them fifth overall in the preliminary standings.
In three games, Krejci has played just over 45 minutes for his national team, and registered one goal, his first of his Olympic career. The goal was against Latvia, in a game that was followed by a 4-2 Czech Republic loss to Russia.
Krejci said he’s been spending his time in Vancouver getting to know his teammates and countrymen.
“I’m trying to enjoy this as much as I can,” he said. “Everyday I’m getting closer with our star players and it’s so much fun.
“I’m so glad to be here and I’m enjoying every moment.”
As for what the future holds for the Czechs, Krejci remains optimistic, despite their recent loss.
“You just have to forget about it and learn the lesson and get ready for the next game.”
Czech Republic is slated to face last-place Latvia in the Feb. 23 qualification playoffs, the winner of that game facing Finland the following day.
Marco Sturm and his German team rounded out their preliminary showing last in Group C, and 11th (second to last) overall. Traditionally, the German national hockey team has fewer resources than other countries and this year was no exception.
Sturm played almost 50 minutes in three games for his home country, registering one assist.
Though the results are less than ideal, with Germany losing all three of their games (against Sweden, Finland and Belarus), Sturm admits that the Olympics are a chance for his German teammates to test their skills against the best the world has to offer.
“The bottom [line] is you got to have fun and you got to enjoy it and play some good hockey,” the Bruins forward said. “For most of the guys on our team, that’s a really good chance for them to prove themselves and also to play against the best hockey players in the world.
“There’s no better chance to show that than in the Olympics.”
Germany will face the sixth-place Canada tomorrow, determining who will face Russia in the quarterfinals.
Zdeno Chara and Miroslav Satan helped their Slovakian team to a solid sixth place in the preliminary round, third in Group B.
After missing two games to a hand injury suffered with the Bruins, Satan returned to the ice just in time for a 6-0 blowout win against Latvia.
“Right now we feel like the system is good for us and the team is coming together,” Satan said. “It's going to be up to us. We'll see who we get in the playoffs and it's up to us to keep it."
Bruins and Slovakia captain Chara registered a team-high 71 minutes of ice time over their three games, with a +1 rating overall.
Chara said he and his team are ready for whatever the Olympic tournament has coming, adding that its unpredictability is part of the games’ appeal.
“Hopefully we can pull it off. It's all about one game right now in a tournament like this,” he said. “So we've got two days to rest and get ready for the most important game. "
After the game against Latvia, the playoff schedule was not yet determined, so the Slovaks were left to wonder who they’d be up against come this week.
“Whoever we're going to play, we're going to try to beat them,” Chara said. “So it doesn't matter if it's US, Canada, Sweden, Russia, I mean, anybody can beat anybody."
Chara and Satan and their team are set to play 10th place Norway, with the winner of that game going up against Sweden the following day.
Following last night’s 5-3 loss against USA, Patrice Bergeron and his Canadian teammates are spending the day regrouping and recovering their footing.
Bergeron has played just over 27 minutes in three games for Canada, earning one assist. The star-studded Canadian roster was expected to dominate the Olympics, but so far has finished sixth place after the preliminary round.
The battle of the border is always heated and always unpredictable, according to Bergeron in an interview before the game.
“It's a good team and they've been playing well in their two games and we know we need to be ready for a big match-up,” Bergeron said. “The respect is there, but at the same time, we want to win every game.”
After the upset, Bergeron remained optimistic for the upcoming games and his overall Olympic experience.
“It’s a great experience obviously and I’m having a lot of fun,” he said. “It’s unfortunate losing games like this, but I’m looking forward to the next game obviously.”
As the Canadians prepare to face Germany, Bergeron will prepare to face his Bruins teammate, German Olympian Marco Sturm.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Bergeron said. “Obviously Marco’s a great guy, but you want to win, so you’ve got to worry about your game and play well.”
Canada is scheduled to face 11th seeded Germany tomorrow to determine who will play Russia on Wednesday.
After beating Canada in a nail-biter last night, the American team is riding high into the quarterfinals on a bye. Each of the top four teams received a bye into the next round, so along with Finland, Sweden and Russia, USA has a day off to rest while the bottom eight teams battle it out.
Today is the 30th anniversary of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” and many are calling last night’s game a fitting tribute, even hailing it as the biggest upset since that game decades ago.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is behind USA’s solid foundation of goaltending along with Jonathan Quick. Starting goalie Ryan Miller has played all three games for America so far, earning three wins and a .929 save percentage.
Despite his lack of time between the Olympic posts, Thomas said he’s still enjoying his first experience at the Olympic games. Especially after the 5-3 upset against Canada, he said he’s honored to have a chance to be a part of the team.
“It's been everything I hoped for and more,” the veteran said. “Especially with a game like today; it doesn't get any better with Canada/USA in Canada.
“To be truthful, I'm exhausted from that win and I didn't even play,” he added with a laugh. “Mentally exhausted, obviously more than physically.
“Though, I could be physically exhausted from jumping up and down every time we scored.”
Team USA finished the preliminaries with a perfect record of 3-0.
The Americans will either face Switzerland or Belarus in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, depending on the outcome of Tuesday's playoff qualification round.