Canada vs. Austria: Preview and Prediction for 2014 Olympic Hockey Game
Welcome back to the Olympics, Austria. Your first game since 2002 was an 8-4 loss to Finland and now you get to take another step up in class and face Team Canada.
The Austrians did not qualify for the Olympics in 2006 or 2010 and their best finish in the past 26 years was ninth at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and Michael Raffl are the only three NHL players on Austria.
This should be a nice tune-up game for the Canadians, the clear favorites in Group B.
Here's all the viewing information, potential lineups and what to expect in what should be a very one-sided matchup.
TV and Live Stream Info
The puck drops on this contest on Friday at noon ET and can be seen on the USA Network in the United States and CBC in Canada. The game will be streamed in both the United States and Canada.
How will Roberto Luongo perform in net?
For all we know, coach Mike Babcock has already made up his mind that Carey Price will be his goaltender during the elimination round. This could be Roberto Luongo's only chance to prove that he can once again take Canada to gold.
Should he allow even one soft goal in this game, that could be enough to keep him glued to the bench for the rest of the tournament.
Can Austria keep it interesting?
The Austrians were less than a minute from escaping with a 2-2 tie against Finland after one period, but they allowed two quick goals and never recovered. They will need a lot to happen to hang around with Canada, but if they can clean up their mistakes and get great goaltending, you never know.
Sure, Canada-Norway was close, but they controlled the game after the first period. Which leads to the question...
Will Canada improve on its opening game?
There are a lot of areas that need to be cleaned up before the elimination portion of the tournament begins. The Canadians don't need to win every game 7-0 in order to be successful, but they'll need to get better if they want to beat Finland in the finale and win the group.
Team Canada Projected Lineup
• Chris Kunitz—Sidney Crosby—Jeff Carter
• Matt Duchene—Jonathan Toews—Rick Nash
• Patrick Marleau—Ryan Getzlaf—Corey Perry
• Jamie Benn—John Tavares—Patrice Bergeron/Martin St. Louis
• Duncan Keith—Shea Weber
• Jay Bouwmeester—Alex Pietrangelo
• Marc-Edouard Vlasic—Drew Doughty/PK Subban
• Roberto Luongo
• Mike Smith
Scratches: Patrick Sharp, Dan Hamhuis, Carey Price
Team Austria Projected Lineup
• Thomas Vanek—Thomas Koch—Michael Grabner
• Michael Raffl—Brian Lebler—Thomas Raffl
• Thomas Raffl—Thomas Hundertpfund—Andreas Nodl
• Daniel Oberkofler—Daniel Welser—Manuel Latusa
• Matthias Trattnig—Andre Lakos
• Thomas Pock—Stefan Ulmer
• Florian Iberer—Gerhard Unterluggauer
• Robert Lukas—Mario Altmann
• Bernhard Starkbaum
• Rene Swette
Scratches: Fabian Weinhandl, Matthias Iberer, Raphael Herburger
Chris Kunitz, Canada
The running partner of Sidney Crosby will likely be on the left side of the world's best player again in this game. These group contests aren't all that crucial to Canada, but if he's not producing, will coach Mike Babcock consider making a change before the elimination round?
John Tavares, Canada
You know there's considerable depth on a roster when a Hart Trophy finalist is playing on a third line and/or out of position. A center by trade, Tavares could move to the left wing over the course of the game.
Thomas Vanek, Austria
He's 26th in the NHL in scoring and first among Austrian-born players. He's practically on his own with this team, but he's a dangerous player that can create his own chances. If Austria has any chance of pulling the major upset, a couple of goals from Vanek will likely be required.
Roberto Luongo, Canada
After Carey Price got the job done in the opener, Canada will give Roberto Luongo a chance to show what he can do against Austria.
Price was the far better goaltender leading into the Olympic break, but Luongo won gold for Canada in 2010. If Luongo falters at all against Austria, it's likely that Price will be given the reins for the rest of the tournament.
Bernhard Starkbaum, Austria
Bernhard Starkbaum sounds like a Game of Thrones character, but he's actually Austria's only hope to shock the world.
Whenever upsets of a great magnitude occur on the Olympic stage, it's almost always the case that the goaltender steals the game. He couldn't do it in Austria's opener against Finland despite making 44 saves, so maybe he's saving his best for Canada.
Canada Will Win If Everyone Shows for the Game on Time
And even then, if half the team arrives midway through the second period, that's still probably enough time to beat Austria.
The Canadians would need to lay an egg so massive that it would rival the ones that led to the demise of Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. They're bigger, stronger, faster and have the edge in talent at every position.
Austria Will Win If Their Goaltender Plays the Game of His Life
It's not too often that a goaltender who allows eight goals is praised by his coach after a game, but that's when happened for Bernhard Starkbaum after Austria's 8-4 loss to Finland.
The task will be even tougher against Canada, but anything can happen in one game. Austria's team is inferior to Canada's team in every way, so it will be up to Starkbaum to be the great equalizer.
If you have small children, please be sure you are there to watch this game with them. It's going to be bloody, like, Quentin Tarantino movie bloody. I'm required to say at this point that anything can happen in a 60-minute hockey game between professionals, but come on. Canada is going to dominate this game from start to finish.
Predicted score: Canada 6, Austria 0