As the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi begin to wind down, only a few games remain in the ice hockey tournament, as we've now reached the semifinals.
The United States came away with a strong 5-2 win Wednesday over the Czech Republic thanks to an all-around terrific performance. Meanwhile, Canada sneaked by Latvia with a 2-1 win, but the biggest story from the quarterfinals was Russia. Despite high expectations, the Russians were unable to take down Finland, losing 3-1, eliminating them from medal contention.
Four teams remain in the ice hockey tournament, so let's take a look at the remaining bracket along with the schedule for the rest of the games and a preview for the two semifinal matches.
|Olympic Hockey Schedule|
|Date||Matchup||Time (ET)||Time (MSK)||Round|
|Friday, Feb. 21||Sweden vs. Finland||7 a.m.||4 p.m.||Semifinals No. 1|
|Friday, Feb. 21||USA vs. Canada||12 p.m.||9 p.m.||Semifinals No. 2|
|Saturday, Feb. 22||TBD vs. TBD||10 a.m.||7 p.m.||Bronze-Medal Game|
|Sunday, Feb. 23||TBD vs. TBD||7 a.m.||4 p.m.||Gold-Medal Game|
Sweden vs. Finland
After taking the gold medal back in 2006, it looks like the Swedish team is ready to make another run for the gold this year, but the Swedes will have to get through the team that took down Russia before they can make it to the finals.
Even without the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Sedin, Sweden just keeps rolling on, having won all four of its games in regulation. The most recent came in the 5-0 shutout against Slovenia to help it advance to the quarterfinals.
A big reason for the team's success in this year's Olympics has been goalie Henrik Lundqvist, who recorded 19 saves in the shutout win over Slovenia. It was his second shutout of the tournament, and he's been on fire, posting a goals-against average of just 1.25 and a .949 save percentage.
If Finland wants to take down Sweden, then it is going to have to find a way to get through Lundqvist. Sami Vatanen will be an important part of the team's offensive attack, as he's already set up his teammates with four assists so far.
However, it looks like this matchup has all the makings of a low-scoring affair, especially with Tuukka Rask in goal for Finland. The Boston Bruins goalie recorded 39 saves in the win over Russia, and with how good he's been in the NHL this season, Sweden might struggle to find goals as well.
USA vs. Canada
For American hockey fans, this might be one of the most exciting games of hockey in a while.
Team USA has exceeded expectations with some great wins at Sochi, including a thrilling shootout win over Russia that made St. Louis Blues star T.J. Oshie an American hero after making goal after goal during the shootout.
But Oshie isn't the only player to make a name for himself during the Olympics. Phil Kessel has become a big name as well, leading all Olympic players with eight points, including an impressive five goals. Meanwhile, Jonathan Quick has been great in nets for the U.S., posting a strong 1.62 GAA.
But this game against Canada could be the biggest test for the Americans. Although Sidney Crosby hasn't exactly lived up to expectations, a number of others have. Carey Price has just a 0.99 GAA, consistently keeping opponents from scoring. Drew Doughty has recorded six points and four goals, while Patrick Marleau has four assists of his own.
Overall, there's a ton of talent on both of these teams, and that will likely make for an exciting matchup to determine who will make it to the finals.