2014 Olympic Women's Ice Hockey: Preview and Predictions for USA-Switzerland

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 8, 2014

2014 Olympic Women's Ice Hockey: Preview and Predictions for USA-Switzerland

0 of 6

    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    The second day of play in Group A of women's hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics will get underway Monday with a match between the United States and Switzerland. 

    It will be the second of three games in group play for each side as the teams continue on their quest for Olympic glory. 

    Continue reading for a complete preview and prediction for Monday's clash at the Shayba Arena. 

Overview

1 of 6

    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Group A of women's hockey at the 2014 Olympics contains the United States, Canada, Switzerland and Finland. 

    Each team will play every team once, with the top two teams from each of the two groups advancing to the semifinal round. Group B features Russia, Germany, Japan and Sweden.

    Canada is the reigning champion in the event after winning in front of its home crowd in Vancouver in 2010. 

Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info

2 of 6

    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    When: 5 a.m. ET

    Where: Shayba Arena

    TV Info: NBC Sports Network

    Live Stream Info: The game will be streamed on NBCOlympics.com through the NBC Sports Live Extra app. 

How Did We Get Here?

3 of 6

    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    In its first game in Sochi, the United States defeated Finland 3-1 thanks to goals from Alex Carpenter, Kelli Stack and Hilary Knight. 

    The score did not represent just how dominant the Americans were, though, as they outshot the Finns 43-15.

    The Swiss were on the opposite end of such dominance against Canada, as they fell 5-0. 

    Goalie Florence Schelling faced 69 shots from the Canadians, who could have scored a larger number of goals but failed to get anything past the Swiss netminder in the final period. 

Top Storylines

4 of 6

    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Can the United States Avoid Looking Ahead to Canada Game? 

    With the Canadians on the horizon, the United States must focus on the task at hand Monday by defeating the Swiss.

    Looking ahead to a big game is the reason for upset losses in so many different sports, and the United States must avoid doing just that if it wants to win the group outright Wednesday against Canada.

     

    Can the Switzerland Defense Withstand Another Round of Pressure? 

    Having to deal with 69 shots in one game is something no defense wants to do, but that is exactly what happened to Switzerland against Canada. 

    Much of the same is expected against a United States team that also has the potential to fire a high number of shots on goal.

    Switzerland's goal on defense should be to bend but not break. If the floodgates open early with a few United States goals, the morale of the Swiss defense will be ruined and who knows how many goals will flow past Schelling.

     

    Will Switzerland Muster Enough Pressure on Offense? 

    In its first game, Switzerland was no match for Canada on the offensive side of the ice, and it could not score a single goal.

    The same problem will come to the forefront Monday, which is why the underdogs need to send in a few shots on goal early.

    The shots do not have to be great, but they be must enough to test United States goalie Jessie Vetter. 

Athletes to Watch

5 of 6

    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Hilary Knight, F, United States

    Knight was an offensive powerhouse against Finland, putting eight shots on goal. She scored once and assisted on another goal in 22:07 of ice time. 

    For the United States offense to be as proficient as it can be, Knight must be in top goal-scoring form, which it seems like she is based off of her performance Saturday.

     

    Lara Stalder and Julia Marty, Defense, Switzerland

    The Swiss duo recorded the highest amount of ice time by defenders in the loss to Canada. Stalder spent 22:08 on the ice, while Marty was out there for 21:20.

    Stalder and Marty will surely see a ton of pressure yet again, and they must be the two most active players on the ice for Switzerland. 

    If the defensive duo can halt an early American scoring outburst, they may give their team a chance to make an upset bid.

     

    Amanda Kessel, Forward, United States

    Amanda Kessel had the most shots on goal against Finland for a forward who failed to score for the Red, White and Blue with five. 

    She could potentially be the top scorer on the team, but she needs to find the back of the net soon to do that. 

Final Score Prediction

6 of 6

    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Prediction: United States 4, Switzerland 0.

    In all honesty, this is a mismatch that the United States will be waiting to exploit ahead of its rivalry game with Canada. 

    The Americans may not get out to a fast start against Switzerland like Canada did, but expect them to have no problem putting away their opponent when the time calls for it. 

    Wright and Kessel should get on the scoreboard, as should a few other forwards like Carpenter and Kendall Coyne, who had five shots on goal against Finland. 

     

    For more Winter Olympics coverage, follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.