Hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics: Breaking It Down Team By Team

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Hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics: Breaking It Down Team By Team

I will attempt to outline the basics of what hockey fans need to know for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

First, some useful links:

U.S. TV Schedule

Full Olympic Hockey Schedule

Official Standings Page

Let's get started.


Favorites :

SWEDEN

Goaltenders
Jonas Gustavsson, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Stefan Liv, HV71 Jönköping
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers, NHL

Defense
Tobias Enström, Atlanta Thrashers, NHL
Magnus Johansson, Linköpings HC
Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings, NHL
Nicklas Lidström, Detroit Red Wings, NHL
Douglas Murray, San Jose Sharks, NHL
Johnny Oduya, New Jersey Devils, NHL
Mattias Öhlund, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL
Henrik Tallinder, Buffalo Sabres, NHL

Forwards
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators, NHL
Nicklas Bäckström, Washington Capitals, NHL
Loui Eriksson, Dallas Stars, NHL
Peter Forsberg, MODO Örnsköldsvik
Tomas Holmström, Detroit Red Wings, NHL
Patric Hörnqvist, Nashville Predators, NHL
Fredrik Modin, Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL
Samuel Påhlsson, Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL
Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, NHL
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, NHL
Mattias Weinhandl, Dynamo Moscow, RUS
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings, NHL

I'm starting with Sweden because they are defending Gold Medal winners, and for good reason. Their lineup of centers is rivaled only by Canada but still may be the best in Backstrom, Forsberg, H. Sedin, and Zetterberg.

The rest of the team is no slouch either. They have one of the best goaltenders in the tournament in Henrik Lundqvist and a solid defensive corps headlined by leading active Norris Trophy recipient Nicklas Lidstrom.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game:

3-0 (2nd) vs. Finland (Sunday, Feb 21 9:00 PST MSNBC)

Expectations:

There is simply no reason, on paper, why Sweden won't at least get to the Gold Medal Game again this year. Their roster is too experienced, too talented, and just too damn good.

My Prediction:

Silver Medal.

 

CANADA

Goaltenders
Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils
Marc-André Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Defense
Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks
Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Forwards
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars
Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers
Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

This should go without saying, but I am going to say it. Canada is among the favorites, if not THE favorite; obviously because of the people on their roster; but it's interesting to examine some of the players left off the roster:

Jeff Carter
Shane Doan
Vincent Lecavalier
Marc Savard
Ryan Smyth
Jason Spezza
Steven Stamkos
Martin St. Louis

Jay Bouwmeester
Mike Green
Dion Phaneuf

Cam Ward
Steve Mason

And clearly, the list goes on. If a country could ever enter more than one team, I don't know if the gold medal would ever leave Canada's soil, because their B team COULD actually medal.

The home-ice advantage is an interesting X-factor for Team Canada; it should prove to be an advantage if for no other reason than that the tournament will be played on North American size ice, rather than international.

This just means that the rink is narrower, and provides less room for the speedy but less physical Europeans, and is widely considered to favor the Canadian style of play.

But the fact that Canada already boasts perhaps the most impressive roster of NHL players makes the pressure on the Red and White enormous—add the fact that they will be playing in their home country and the pressure cannot be any higher. This situation is what can sometimes give nothing-to-lose type teams a leg to stand on when facing off against the home 'favourites'.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game(s):

3-0 (1st) vs. U.S.A. (Sunday, Feb 21 4:40pm PST MSNBC)

No matter what, try to catch at least one of Canada's games, against any team. They are sure to exhibit how the game is meant to be played, with a stacked roster of some of the most talented players to ever play the game. I can count at least eight sure future hall of famers, and the rest are simply undetermined because they are under 25. The game vs. U.S.A. will be an absolute doozy.

Expectations:

If these players don't make it to the Gold Medal game then they may be deported.

My Prediction:

Gold Medal.

 

RUSSIA

Goaltenders
Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes, NHL
Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks, NHL
Semyon Varlamov, Washington Capitals, NHL

Defense
Sergei Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL
Denis Grebeshkov, Edmonton Oilers, NHL
Dmitri Kalinin, Salavat Yulayev Ufa
Konstantin Korneyev, CSKA Moscow
Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Ilya Nikulin, Ak Bars Kazan
Fedor Tyutin, Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL
Anton Volchenkov, Ottawa Senators, NHL

Forwards

Maxim Afinogenov, Atlanta Thrashers, NHL
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings, NHL
Sergei Fedorov, Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers, NHL
Viktor Kozlov, Salavat Yulayev Ufa
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins, NHL
Alexei Morozov, Ak Bars Kazan
Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, NHL
Alexander Radulov, Salavat Yulayev Ufa
Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals, NHL
Danis Zaripov, Ak Bars Kazan
Sergei Zinoviev, Salavat Yulayev Ufa

Sure there may be some names that North American fans won't recognize, but the group of top six forwards is among the best ever assembled with Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Datsyuk, Semin, and Fedorov.

It may not matter who is playing defense or who's between the pipes because they could conceivably score 10 goals per game with this lineup. However, the defense is pretty competent with Sergei Gonchar and Andrei Markov, as well as the 'A-Train' Anton Volchenkov.

Goaltenders Bryzgalov and Nabakov are among the NHL's best as well, so there is no doubt that this team will crush much of its competition.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game(s):

3-0 (3rd) vs. Slovakia (Thursday, Feb 18 9:00 PST CNBC)
and vs. Czech Rebulic (Sunday, Feb 21 12:00 PST NBC)

Expectations:

Many expect them to reach the Gold Medal game, but some question their depth, stating that the best teams in this tournament can shut down one or two lines.

My Prediction:

Losing a spirited Bronze Medal game.

 

FINLAND

Goaltenders
Niklas Bäckström, Minnesota Wild, NHL
Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames, NHL
Antero Niittymäki, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL

Defense
Lasse Kukkonen, Avangard Omsk, RUS
Sami Lepistö, Phoenix Coyotes, NHL
Toni Lydman, Buffalo Sabres, NHL
Janne Niskala, Frölunda Gothenburg, SWE
Joni Pitkänen, Carolina Hurricanes, NHL
Sami Salo, Vancouver Canucks, NHL
Kimmo Timonen, Philadelphia Flyers, NHL

Forwards
Valtteri Filppula, Detroit Red Wings, NHL
Niklas Hagman, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Jarkko Immonen, Ak Bars Kazan, RUS
Olli Jokinen, Calgary Flames, NHL
Niko Kapanen, Ak Bars Kazan, RUS
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, NHL
Saku Koivu, Anaheim Ducks, NHL
Jere Lehtinen, Dallas Stars, NHL
Antti Miettinen, Minnesota Wild, NHL
Ville Peltonen, Dynamo Minsk, BLR/KHL
Jarkko Ruutu, Ottawa Senators, NHL
Tuomo Ruutu, Carolina Hurricanes, NHL
Teemu Selänne, Anaheim Ducks, NHL


The Fins are always impressive in these tournaments, and feature a nice mix of veterans and young talent. Miika Kiprusoff and Niklas Backstrom are among the best two goaltenders in the games.

I do think, however, that they are not what they once were, but still posses the ability to beat anyone on any given day. They are mostly strong from the net out, and these tournaments seem to favor the ability to score rather than the ability to defend.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game:

2-1 (4th) vs. Sweden (Sunday, Feb 21 9:00 PST MSNBC)

Expectations:

They expect to bring home a medal.

My Prediction:

Losing a close one in a quarterfinals against a team that will make it to the Gold Medal game.

 

Dark Horses:

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Goaltenders, Ondrej Pavelec, Atlanta Thrashers, NHL
Jakub Stepanek
Vitkovice Ostrava
Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers, NHL


Defende
Miroslav Blatak
Salavat Yulayev Ufa, RUS
Jan Hejda, Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL
Tomas Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Filip Kuba, Ottawa Senators, NHL
Pavel Kubina, Atlanta Thrashers, NHL
Zbynek Michalek, Phoenix Coyotes, NHL
Roman Polak, St. Louis Blues, NHL
Marek Zidlicky, Minnesota Wild, NHL

Forwards
Petr Cajanek, SKA Petersburg, RUS
Roman Cervenka, Slavia Prague
Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils, NHL
Martin Erat, Nashville Predators, NHL
Tomas Fleischmann, Washington Capitals, NHL
Martin Havlat, Minnesota Wild, NHL
Jaromir Jagr, Avangard Omsk, RUS
David Krejci, Boston Bruins, NHL
Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators, NHL
Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Tomas Rolinek, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, RUS
Josef Vasicek, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, RUS

This is an impressive team that could upset some teams in Vancouver. Jagr is not what he once was, but has been known to elevate his game in international competition. And if he can find that youthful skating stride, look out. The roster from top to bottom is solid, though not frightening.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game(s):

2-1 (6th) vs. Slovakia (Wednesday, Feb 17 9:00 PST NBC)
and vs. Russia (Sunday, Feb 21 12:00 PST NBC)

Expectations:

Hope to medal, but will not perform executions if not.

My Prediction:

Losing a tough quarterfinal game.

 

USA

Goaltenders
Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins

Defense
Erik Johnson, St. Louis Blues
Jack Johnson, Los Angeles Kings
Mike Komisarek, Toronto Maple Leafs
Paul Martin, New Jersey Devils
Brooks Orpik, Pittsburgh Penguins
Brian Rafalski, Detroit Red Wings
Ryan Suter, Nashville Predators

Forwards
David Backes, St. Louis Blues
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings
Ryan Callahan, New York Rangers
Chris Drury, New York Rangers
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks
Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs
Jamie Langenbrunner, New Jersey Devils
Ryan Malone, Tampa Bay Lightning
Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Bobby Ryan, Anaheim Ducks
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche

I've been following the assembly of this team for over a year. Only recently have I not only come to terms with the selections, but am 95 percent satisfied. (I would love to see T.J. Oshie on the squad and presume that he is the first in line should someone get injured).

The defense is young but talented, and has fairly good size. Erik Johnson has played particularly well this year after missing all of last year with a freak knee injury.

The forwards are everything Brian Burke said they'd be: young, gritty, fast, and, well, small. The exceptions of course are Backes and Malone (not small), Kane and Kessel (not gritty) and Langenbrunner and Drury (not young).

The top two lines provide a pretty formidable scoring threat, and the bottom two lines can skate and grind with any team in the tournament.

But the U.S.'s hopes lie mainly with one man:

Ryan Miller.

Miller is a top-tier goaltender in the NHL and the world. He is at the top of his game right now and the U.S. team will go as far as he is able to lead them.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game(s):

2-1 (5th) vs. Canada (Sunday, Feb 21 4:40pm PST MSNBC)

Expectations:

There really aren't any. The Gold Medal by the U.S. Junior team this year may add some hype, but passive hockey fans probably haven't heard of half of these guys, and the average age is only 26.6 with not much, if any, international experience.

My Prediction:

Bronze Medal. That's right, I said it.

 

SLOVAKIA

Goaltenders
Peter Budaj, Colorado Avalanche, NHL
Jaroslav Halak, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Rastislav Stana, Severstal Cherepovets, RUS

Defense
Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins, NHL
Milan Jurcina, Columbus Blue Jackets, NHL
Richard Lintner, Dynamo Minsk, BLR/KHL
Andrej Meszaros, Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL
Andrej Sekera, Buffalo Sabres, NHL
Martin Strbak, MVD Balashikha, RUS
Lubomir Visnovsky, Edmonton Oilers, NHL

Forwards
Lubos Bartecko, Färjestad Karlstad, SWE
Martin Cibak, Spartak Moscow, RUS
Pavol Demitra, Vancouver Canucks, NHL
Marian Gaborik, New York Rangers, NHL
Michal Handzus, Los Angeles Kings, NHL
Marcel Hossa, Dinamo Riga, LAT/KHL
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks, NHL
Tomas Kopecky, Chicago Blackhawks, NHL
Zigmund Palffy, HK 36 Skalica
Branko Radivojevic, Spartak Moscow, RUS
Miroslav Satan, Boston Bruins, NHL
Jozef Stümpel, Barys Astana, KAZ/KHL
Richard Zednik, Lokomotiv Jaroslavl, RUS

Slovakia boasts a talented group of forwards, the 6'9" reigning Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara, but not a whole lot else.

Gaborik and Hossa can light it up with the best in the world, but the goaltending on this team is questionable and could give up some costly goals against the most talented snipers in the world.

Still, this will be among the more enjoyable teams to watch, and if they do click and find a goalie to get hot, they could make some waves.

Predicted Round Robin Record, Playoff Seed and Notable Game(s):

1-2 (8th) vs. Russia (Thursday, Feb 18 9:00 PST CNBC)
and vs. Czech Rebulic (Wednesday, Feb 17 9:00 PST NBC)

Expectations:

Have a chance to medal, but are not expecting to.

My Prediction:

Should lose in the Quarterfinals.

 

Underdogs:

 

BELARUS

Goaltenders
Vitali Koval, Dynamo Minsk
Maxim Malyutin, HK Vitebsk
Andrei Mezin, Dynamo Minsk

Defense
Andrei Antonov, Shakhter Soligorsk
Andrei Bashko, Shakhter Soligorsk
Vladimir Denisov, Dynamo Minsk
Viktor Kostiuchenok, Amur Khabarovsk, RUS
Ruslan Salei, Colorado Avalanche, NHL
Nikolai Stasenko, Amur Khabarovsk, RUS
Vadim Sushko, Shakhter Soligorsk
Alexander Syrei, Shakhter Soligorsk

Forwards
Oleg Antonenko, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, RUS
Sergei Demagin, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, RUS
Mikhail Grabovsky, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL
Alexei Kaliuzhny, Dynamo Moscow, RUS
Konstantin Koltsov, Salavat Yulayev Ufa, RUS
Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Sergei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens, NHL
Alexander Kulakov, Dynamo Minsk
Andrei Mikhalev, Dynamo Minsk
Andrei Stas, Dynamo Minsk
Alexei Ugarov, MVD Balashikha, RUS
Sergei Zadelenov, Dynamo Minsk

The Kostitsyns are pretty capable goal scorers, but they have never played on a top line of any NHL team and may have some trouble against the best defenders in the world.

I don't know too much about the rest of this team which usually means that they won't win too many games at the Olympics.

Expectations:

It's a good thing everyone advances out of round robin play.

My Prediction:

Should have a close game against Germany in round robin. Will lose every other game.

 

GERMANY

Goaltenders
Dennis Endras, Augsburger Panther
Thomas Greiss, San Jose Sharks, NHL
Dimitri Pätzold,ERC Ingolstadt

Defense
Michael Bakos, ERC Ingolstdt
Christian Ehrhoff, Vancouver Canucks, NHL
Jakub Ficenec, ERC Ingolstadt
Jason Holland, DEG Metro Stars Düsseldorf
Korbinian Holzer, DEG Metro Stars Düsseldorf
Chris Schmidt, Adler Mannheim
Dennis Seidenberg, Florida Panthers, NHL
Alexander Sulzer, Nashville Predators, NHL

Forwards
Alexander Barta, Hamburg Freezers
Sven Felski, Eisbären Berlin
Marcel Goc, Nashville Predators, NHL
Philip Gogulla, Portland Pirates, AHL
Thomas Greilinger, ERC Ingolstadt
Manuel Klinge, Kassel Huskies
Marcel Müller, Kölner Haie
Travis James Mulock, Eisbären Berlin
André Rankel, Eisbären Berlin
Marco Sturm, Boston Bruins, NHL
John Tripp, Hamburg Freezers
Michael Wolf, Iserlohn Roosters

May fare a little better than Belarus, but not much. Sturm and Goc are decent NHL players, and I'm wondering where Jochen Hecht is on this roster, because he would actually be their best forward.

Expectations:

Hoping to win maybe a game or two.

My Prediction:

Could beat Belarus and then lose every other game.

 

LATVIA

Goaltenders
Edgars Masalskis, Dinamo Riga
Ervins Mustukovs, Dinamo Riga
Sergejs Naumovs, Dinamo Riga

Defense

Oskars Bartulis, Philadelphia Flyers, NHL
Guntis Galvins, Dinamo Riga
Rodrigo Lavins, Dinamo Riga
Georgijs Pujacs, Sibir Novosibirsk, RUS
Krisjanis Redlihs, Dinamo Riga
Arvids Rekis, Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg, GER
Karlis Skrastins, Dallas Stars, NHL
Kristaps Sotnieks, Dinamo Riga

Forwards
Girts Ankipans, Dinamo Riga
Armands Berzins, Dinamo Riga
Martins Cipulis, Dinamo Riga
Lauris Darzins, Dinamo Riga
Kaspars Daugavins, Binghamton Senators, AHL
Martins Karsums, Dinamo Riga
Gints Meija, Dinamo Riga
Aleksandrs Nizivijs, Dinamo Riga
Mikelis Redlihs, Dinamo Riga
Aleksejs Sirokovs, Amur Khabarovsk, RUS
Janis Sprukts, Dinamo Riga
Herberts Vasiljevs, Krefeld Pinguine, GER

This roster is missing another NHL player that I thought would be there: Los Angeles King Raitis Ivanans. Not that he is a very talented forward, but I have heard he would make the squad as one of the few Latvian born NHLers.

With or without him, they got screwed with perhaps the toughest pool, playing against Russia, Czech Republic, and Slovakia during round robin play. They will not win any of these games, thus making them face another tough opponent in the first round of playoff play.

Expectations:

Uhhh, well it will be a fun trip.

My Prediction:

Will lose 4 games and enjoy the sights in Vancouver.

 

NORWAY

Goaltenders
Pål Grotnes, Stjernen Frederikstad
Andre Lysenstøen, HeKi Heinola, FIN2
Ruben Smith, Storhamar Dragons

Defence
Alexander Bonsaksen, MODO Örnsköldsvik, SWE
Jonas Holøs, Färjestad Karlstad, SWE
Tommy Jakobsen, Lørenskog IK
Juha Kaunismäki, Stavanger Oilers
Lars Erik Lund, Vålerenga Oslo
Ole Kristian Tollefsen, Philadelphia Flyers, NHL
Mats Trygg, Kölner Haie, GER

Forwards
Mats Zuccarello Aasen, MODO Örnsköldsvik, SWE
Morten Ask, Nuremberg Ice Tigers, GER
Anders Bastiansen, Färjestad Karlstad, SWE
Kristian Forsberg, MODO Örnsköldsvik, SWE
Mads Hansen, Brynäs Gävle, SWE
Marius Holtet, Färjestad Karlstad, SWE
Mathis Olimb, Frölunda Gothenburg, SWE
Martin Røymark, Frölunda Gothenburg, SWE
Per-Åge Skrøder, MODO Örnsköldsvik, SWE
Lars Erik Spets, Vålerenga Oslo
Patrick Thoresen, Salavat Yulayev Ufa, RUS
Tore Vikingstad, Hannover Scorpions, GER
Martin Laumann Ylven, Linköpings HC, SWE

They also have a tough pool against the Canadians and Americans, and will probably even lose to Switzerland. It's strange how they can neighbor such a hockey powerhouse (Sweden) and still be so mediocre.

Expectations:

Not high.

My Prediction:

See Latvia.

 

SWITZERLAND

Goaltenders
Martin Gerber, Atlant Mytishchi, RUS
Jonas Hiller, Anaheim Ducks, NHL
Tobias Stephan, Geneva-Servette

Defence

Goran Bezina, Geneva-Servette
Severin Blindenbacher, Färjestad Karlstad, SWE
Rafael Diaz, EV Zug
Roman Josi, SC Bern
Luca Sbisa, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL
Mathias Seger, ZSC Lions Zurich
Mark Streit, New York Islanders, NHL
Yannick Weber, Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL

Forwards
Andres Ambühl, Hartford Wolf Pack, AHL
Thomas Déruns, Geneva-Servette
Hnat Domenichelli, HC Lugano
Sandy Jeannin, HC Fribourg-Gottéron
Thibaut Monnet, ZSC Lions Zurich
Thierry Paterlini, Rapperswil-Jona Lakers
Martin Plüss, SC Bern
Kevin Romy, HC Lugano
Ivo Rüthemann, SC Bern
Raffaele Sannitz, HC Lugano
Julien Sprunger, HC Fribourg-Gottéron
Roman Wick, Kloten Flyers

Though absent of any NHL playing forwards, this is somewhat of an interesting team. Mark Streit is not only a competent NHL defenseman, but he is borderline brilliant.

Jonas Hiller is emerging as the starter for the Anaheim Ducks, and will be backed up by some pretty decent netminders as well.

Expectations:

They hope to beat Norway and get a decent seed if they don't get crushed by Canada and the U.S.

My Prediction:

My pick for the eighth seed playing one of the bottom four in the first round of playoffs. This just means that they'll be the only team from this group to get two wins in the tournament.

 

Overall

So I predict the following:

Gold: Canada

Silver: Sweden

Bronze: U.S.A.

The bottom line is, if you can only watch two days of hockey, snuggle up to your favorite LCD on February 21 all day to watch the six best teams in the tournament (Russia vs. Czech, Canada vs. USA, and Sweden vs. Finland), and on February 28 to watch the Gold Medal game.

I will be in Vancouver figuring out how to sneak into Hockey Place so I don't have to spend $5000 on tickets.

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