Olympic Hockey 2014: Biggest Takeaways from Day 4 of Men's Tournament
Day 4 of the men's Olympic hockey tournament was an exhilarating one, and more light has been shed on the teams participating in the festivities. T.J. Oshie endeared himself to his nation, Henrik Lundqvist ensured that Sweden remained undefeated and Slovenia earned its first career Olympic victory.
Jonas Hiller also recorded a shutout against the Czech Republic. Here are the biggest takeaways from Day 4 of the Olympic tournament.
Team Slovakia Is Now a Long Shot to Medal
After a disappointing performance against the Americans, Slovakia had a great chance to redeem itself against Team Anze Kopitar. Seemingly that is what it looked like because outside of Kopitar, Slovenia's roster doesn't include NHL talent.
During Day 4 of the tournament, Slovakia had another pitiful performance, dropping to 0-0-0-2 with zero points. If Slovakia can't score more than a goal against a team as weak as Slovenia—no disrespect to Slovenia fans out their— how can it expect to do anything meaningful?
Its group also includes Team USA and Team Russia. So barring a miracle, Slovakia is unlikely to make it out of Group C and into the medal round.
Team Russia: Sergei Bobrovsky Should Remain Starter for Remainder of Olympics
Team Russia lost an enthralling 3-2 contest in a shootout against Team USA, but Sergei Bobrovsky was awesome. The reigning Vezina winner came up huge for his nation during the game, and without him in net, the Americans could have easily won the game in regulation.
This writer was scratching his head when Semyon Varlamov was given the nod during the tournament opener, but now it makes sense.
Bobrovksy appears to be the top guy, so Russia was saving him for this important matchup. During the loss, Bobrovsky stopped 31 of 33 shots, and he made a couple of glorious saves during the shootout. It is hard to stick with a goalie after a loss, but in this case there should be an exception made.
The Columbus Blue Jackets' netminder had a huge performance and gives Russia the best chance to win a gold medal.
Team USA: Jonathan Quick Has Been Right Pick in Goal
Ryan Miller was awesome for Team USA in Vancouver at the 2010 Games, and this writer felt he should have been given a chance to start the 2014 Sochi Games. However, to this point Jonathan Quick has been on point for Team USA, and he's been an anchor in goal.
T.J. Oshie received a ton of accolades for his effort in Team USA's win over Russia, but the St. Louis Blues forward made sure to give other credit where it was due when he pointed to Quick after scoring the game-winning goal.
Quick looks a lot like he did the year Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup. If he keeps it up, the Americans could walk away with gold or silver.
Team Sweden Took Latvia for Granted
Sweden is one of the best teams in the tournament, but it was obvious that it looked at this like just some throwaway game up in Rochester. Latvia played hard, was tenacious and scored three goals on 23 shots.
During the broadcast Pierre McGuire mentioned a few instances where Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues would take umbridge after watching the game. Patrik Berglund, a center for the Blues, was weak on the puck and was directly responsible for one of the goals.
This was just one instance, but there were other situations in which Sweden was off its game.
Sweden was victorious, but scored four of its five goals on the power play. Some of the better teams in the tournament such as Canada, Russia and the United States are more disciplined, so Sweden needs to find ways to score at even strength.
The team has suffered terrible injuries that have resulted in the losses of Henrik Sedin, Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, but it has the firepower to win a gold medal.
Sweden needs to put this game in the rear-view mirror and prepare for its final group game. Its effort against Latvia won't cut it against the stronger teams in the tournament.
Jonas Hiller Is Giving Switzerland a Chance to Make Medal Round
Heading into the tournament it was expected that Jonas Hiller would have to be at the top of his game if the Swiss wanted to medal. It was a task easier said than done because the Swiss knew they would get solid goaltending, but given their lack of offense they would need elite-level goaltending.
Well, Hiller has two shutouts thus far, and the Swiss have only allowed one goal. They have only scored two, but the Anaheim Ducks' starter has been amazing to the point that Switzerland could make it to the medal round.
In tight hockey like the Olympics, a hot goaltender can make a difference, and right now Switzerland's goaltending and defense has been top notch. It is giving the team an edge, and if Hiller's play continues, it wouldn't be surprising to see Switzerland make it to the semifinals.