The final four in the men’s ice hockey tournament have been finalized and as expected the top four teams will be playing each other as the Scandinavians and the North Americans will face off to see who’s the best in the world. In the earliest game of the day, the Swedes got off to a slow start before scoring four times in the third period to dispatch the Slovenians. The New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist made 19 saves for his second shutout of the Olympics. Offensively, Lundqvist’s teammate on the Rangers Carl Hagelin scored twice in the five goal victory.
The second match of the day happened to be the home-team Russians facing off against the Fins in a game that had huge buzz. The Russians were still angry over their tough break loss to the USA but still couldn’t manage to find their offense as they scored one PPG before Finland’s Tuukka Rask made 37 saves to grab the 3-1 victory. The Russians came into the tournament as perhaps the most potent team offensively, but their bread and butter failed them in the end as they couldn’t do enough to put the puck in the net. The Russians could only score four goals in the three games that mattered most.
After the Russians were bounced from the tournament to the dismay of everyone in the country including its president Vladimir Putin, who was rink side for every game, the North American teams took to the ice.
The USA made it a walk in the park in advancing to the semis against the Czech Republic, while their northern neighbors had quite a struggle against a Latvia team that was overachieving just to be on the ice.
It took until the thirteen minute mark of the third period before the Canadians were able to capitalize on a PPG from the Nashville Predators Shea Weber to break the deadlock that had lasted for most of the game. The story of the game was Latvia’s Goalie Kristers Gudlevskis who stopped an amazing 55 of the 57 shots he saw against a team that was better than any all-star team the NHL could put together.
For Friday the matchups will be Sweden against Finland at 6AM, then the USA vs. Canada at 11AM. Both games should be fabulous.