2010 Winter Olympics: Unexpected Excitement on Day Three of Men's Hockey

Reed KaufmanCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 18:  Alexander Ovechkin of Russia leans against the boards during the ice hockey men's preliminary game between Slovakia and Russia on day 7 of the 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 18, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

The Olympic men's hockey competition was set up with a schedule that gradually gets more competitive as the tournament progresses. The supposed better teams were scheduled to play the supposed weaker teams at the start, and the top teams in each pool are slated to play each other on the last day of pool play.

That's why it was a surprise when hockey super-power Russia lost on day three just hours after gold medal favorites and hometown heroes Canada barely beat Switzerland in a shootout.

Ilya Bryzgalov, the Phoenix Coyotes netminder, got the start for Russia in Thursday's loss, and seemed clearly disappointed with the outcome, but not too shocked, "Why is everybody always talking about Russia and Canada in the final? Guys, you're too rushed," he said to the media. "There are too many good teams out there. Be careful with your predictions."

In the men's competition at least, the games have perhaps been closer than many expected.

Five of the nine games have been decided by two goals or fewer; two of those games went into extra time.

All of this simply proves that the tournament may not go as anyone expected.

Tune in today to see how Sweden does against Belarus, who in my opinion might be the weakest team of the tournament.

Also make sure to watch Finland, who looked terrific against Belarus, play a tough German team.

The Czech team plays Latvia, and should not have a tough time, but after yesterday's contests, who knows?

It is interesting to ponder if all this drama is really a huge surprise.

Anyone who has followed the NHL for the last few years knows that these are the types of things that can happen in playoff format, and in a single-elimination style tournament (once pool play ends) it could get even more dramatic.

This is why we love hockey.