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|
SOCHI, Russia — The U.S. men's hockey team was designed to be fast and hard to play against, and it was in the preliminary round, sandwiching a dramatic shootout win over Russia between routs of Slovakia and Slovenia
But the real test, center Ryan Kesler of the Canucks correctly said, begins today in the quarterfinals, in which the United States faces a Czech Republic team stocked with veterans.
"We're confident, but we know we've still got a lot of work to do," Kesler said. "It's win or go home, and we focus on that game and not worry about anything else."
In other quarterfinals today, Sweden faces upstart Slovenia, Finland meets host Russia and surprising Latvia gets Canada.
The Czechs set up their matchup with the United States by hanging on to beat Slovakia 5-3 on Tuesday in a qualification playoff game. Jaromir Jagr, who turned 42 last week and played on the Czechs' 1998 gold-medal team, had an assist as the Czechs pulled out to a 4-0 lead and then held off a late charge by Slovakia, which left Sochi without a win for the first time in its six Olympic appearances.
Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas played 17:14 for the Czechs, didn't have a shot and was even. Tampa Bay forward Ondrej Palat played 8:37, didn't have a shot and was even. For Slovakia, forward Richard Panik of Lightning affiliate AHL Syracuse didn't have a slot in 6:52 and was even.
Goalie Jonathan Quick of the Kings starts for the Americans.
Latvia believes: Latvia, with one active NHL player on its roster, beat the heavily favored Swiss 3-1 for its first Olympic victory since 2002, when it returned to the Games after a 66-year absence. Facing Canada next couldn't dampen the thrill for the Latvians, coached by Sabres coach Ted Nolan, a Canadian.
"(Nolan) makes us believe in ourselves," said goalie Edgars Masalskis, who made 32 saves. "He tells us every day we're a great team. We did it all for him."
The Canadians will start the Canadiens' Carey Price in goal.
Slovenian progress: Slovenia has just 148 registered senior players, seven rinks, one pro team and one NHL player on its roster. But the country, in its Olympic debut, stunned Austria 4-0 to make the quarterfinals.
"Yesterday I was talking to a certain someone who knows a lot about the game of hockey," said Kings forward Anze Kopitar, who had one of the Slovenian goals, "and he said that he's been following us the last couple of years and he said we've done a tremendous work. You can just tell it's a huge jump from where we were five years ago. To hear that from a guy like that, it's unbelievable." Asked to identify the "certain someone," Kopitar said: "A guy named Steve Yzerman."
Stingy Russia: Russia takes on Finland not having allowed a goal in 140 minutes, 33 seconds after a 4-0 shutout of Norway. "Everybody knows we have such a good, talented team on offense," said the Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, the NHL goals leader who hasn't scored in three games. "We just try to keep our energy and keep our emotion. It's working, and (today) we're going to have emotions and strength for the quarterfinals."