Sochi Olympics musings (Day 5)

Phil Kessel of the Toronto Maple Leafs had a hat trick in Team USA’s 5-1 rout of Slovenia in its final preliminary-round game. Slovenia played the third period without center Anze Kopitar of the Kings, who fell ill and was sent to a medical clinic. Kopitar was released later in the day and expected to be fit to play in the next round. Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres made 17 saves and came within 18 seconds of a shutout while starting in place of the Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

“He don’t feel good, because he has something with the stomach,” Slovenian coach Matjaz Kopitar said of his son, Anze. “He didn’t feel well. He was without the power. Hopefully, he’s going to be better.”

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored both of Canada’s goals, including the winner in overtime, in a taut defensive-game with Finland. Doughty’s third and fourth goals of the tournament propelled Canada to a 2-1 victory and opened a line of questioning about the lack of scoring from the team’s forwards. Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins has only two assists thus far, for instance.

“That guy is full of confidence,” Canada’s Jeff Carter told reporters in Sochi when asked about Doughty, his Kings teammate. “He’s probably the most skilled player I’ve ever played with.”

So, what’s next? Qualifying for the quarterfinals is Tuesday, with the quarterfinals Wednesday. The semifinals are Friday and the gold-medal game is Sunday.

No. 1 Sweden plays the winner of No. 8 Slovenia vs. No. 9 Austria.

No. 2 U.S. plays the winner of No. 7 Czech Republic vs. No. 10 Slovakia.

No. 3 Canada plays the winner of No. 6 Switzerland vs. No. 11 Latvia.

No. 4 Finland plays the winner of No. 5 Russia vs. No. 12 Norway.

The bummer is the U.S. and Canada can only meet in the semifinals, rather than in a rematch of their 2010 Vancouver finals thriller. The U.S. could play Russia in the final, however. Canada and Russia could meet in the final. Canada better be wary of the Swiss and Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller, who has shutouts in each of his two starts in the preliminaries. Finland figures to give the host Russians fits with its patient, defensive-oriented play, which frustrated the Canadians.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email