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Olympic Tournament Moving into Knockout Mode

Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 8:31 PM / News
By Dan Rosen  - NHL.com Staff Writer

SOCHI -- The preliminary round is over and the field is set, meaning it's time for some knockout hockey at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

If you were engrossed in the drama of the tournament during the past five days, just wait until the games resume Tuesday with the qualification round, because now it gets interesting and now it gets real.

Either you win or you go home.

"It doesn't matter how we win," Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist said. "It's whether we win."

Sweden, the United States, Canada and Finland won't be tested until Wednesday. Those four nations received automatic byes into the quarterfinals because of their success in the preliminary round.

The Swedes earned the No. 1 seed as the only team to win all three of its Group C games in regulation. The Americans got the No. 2 seed with eight points and a plus-11 goal-differential, two better than the third-place Canadians, who also had eight points. The Finns are fourth with seven points.

Sweden will face the winner of the qualification-round game between Austria and Slovenia. The U.S. plays the winner of the Czech Republic vs. Slovakia. Canada plays either Switzerland or Latvia. Finland likely will face Russia, unless Norway can make a miracle happen.

The semifinals are Friday, the bronze-medal game is Saturday, and the gold-medal game is Sunday.

"It will be far more intense," Lundqvist said of the tournament going forward, "but that's what we've been building towards."

If the 2010 Vancouver Olympics taught us anything it's that what happens in the preliminary round stays in the preliminary round. Enjoy it, but don't read too much into it.

Canada was in sixth place after three games four years ago because it lost four out of its possible nine points by falling to the Americans in regulation and going to the shootout against Switzerland. It didn't stop the Canadians from winning gold.

Sweden finished second in group play but seventh-place Slovakia dispatched them in a quarterfinal-round thriller.

The Russians were third after the preliminary round. Their tournament ended a few days later when Canada sent them home.

"Obviously those games always have a bit more of a different feel but you don't want to have to change the way you play a whole lot," Canada captain Sidney Crosby said. "I think we've been playing the right way here for three games. I think we've gotten better.

"It's not getting any easier, but I think we definitely just need to stick with how we're playing."

Canada's tournament actually did get slightly easier when Drew Doughty scored the overtime winner Sunday to beat Finland, 2-1. The goal meant Finland likely would have to face Russia in the quarterfinals instead of Canada.

However, all that means is Canada might have to face Switzerland in the quarterfinals. The Swiss scored two goals in their three games, but they gave up just one. They also historically have given Canada a hard time, including a win against the Canadians in the 2006 Turin Olympics and the shootout loss four years ago.

Canada has former Swiss national team coach Ralph Krueger on its coaching staff.

"They give everybody a hard time. Assuming they win," Canada defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said of the Swiss. "If you finish one through four you're going to play somebody good, you're going to have to beat somebody good."

And if you don't, you're gone.

Tournament on.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Pavelski 82 41 38 23 79
J. Thornton 82 11 65 20 76
P. Marleau 82 33 37 0 70
L. Couture 65 23 31 21 54
B. Burns 69 22 26 26 48
T. Wingels 77 16 22 11 38
D. Boyle 75 12 24 -8 36
J. Demers 75 5 29 14 34
T. Hertl 37 15 10 11 25
M. Nieto 66 10 14 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Stalock 12 5 2 .932 1.87
A. Niemi 39 17 7 .913 2.39
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