SOCHI, Russia — Canada, Sweden and the United States made it through the first week of the men's hockey tournament without a loss. But early perfection isn't always an advantage in this tournament, which begins its elimination round today.
No team that went unbeaten in group play has won the gold since the NHL joined the Games in 1998.
Olympic veterans realize the tone of this 12-day event changes after the opening-round games. Although no team is under as much pressure as the host Russians, every player realizes one mistake in the second week can destroy their nation's aspirations.
"Obviously these (elimination) 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 of the Penguins said. "I think we've been playing the right way here for three games. I think we've gotten better."
The three unbeaten teams and Finland got byes into the Wednesday quarterfinals, meaning they get an extra day of rest while the remaining eight teams play today.
But even practice can be a hazard in Sochi. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden's 2006 Olympic star, had a nasty collision with defenseman Erik Karlsson during practice Monday and needed a few minutes to recover. Lundqvist said he would be fine.
Russia practiced ahead of its game with Norway today, but without forward Ilya Kovalchuk. The former NHL player, now in Russia's KHL, was just resting, coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said. Star forward Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins said Kovalchuk was hurt.
Kovalchuk missed the final minutes of the second period in Sunday's win over Slovakia after appearing to hurt his right ankle.
Xxxxxxx round of 16
|Qualifcation Playoffs||Quarterfinals||Semifinals||Gold medal game|
|Tuesday 3 am|
|Wednesday 3 am|
|Tuesday 7:30 am|
|Wednesday 7:30 am|
Men's hockey bracket
|3 a.m. Wed., NBCSN||game||Noon Wed., MSNBC|
|3 a.m. today||Noon today, MSNBC|
|Friday TBD, NBCSN||7 a.m. Sun., Ch. 8||Friday TBD, NBCSN|
|7:30 a.m. today, NBCSN||Noon today, NBCSN|
|7:30 a.m. Wed., NBCSN||Noon Wed., USA|
|10 a.m. Sat., NBCSN|