Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Semis ready for anything

Slovakia and Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros, right, celebrates after beating Sweden.

Associated Press

Slovakia and Lightning defenseman Andrej Meszaros, right, celebrates after beating Sweden.

VANCOUVER — Canada was supposed to get this far, then it wasn't.

Slovakia never expected to be in this game, and now it is.

Canada's men's hockey team — fading a few days ago — is flying again, rejuvenated by a 7-3 rout of Russia in the quarterfinals. The not-even-close game against a prime gold-medal contender re-energized not only an underperforming team but a worried nation that was fearing a second successive Olympic failure by its deep cast of NHL all-stars.

In today's semifinals it faces Slovakia, a surprise 4-3 quarterfinal winner over 2006 champion Sweden to make the medal round for the first time, which had forward Miroslav Satan saying, "It's the biggest achievement so far in the short history of Slovak Republic."

In the other semifinal, the United States, the only team left that hasn't lost in the tournament, meets defending silver medalist Finland, which ousted the Czech Republic and Jaromir Jagr 2-0 late Wednesday.

An unexpected 5-3 loss to the United States on Sunday dropped Canada into a loaded bracket with Russia and Sweden, but both those teams are gone now.

Sweden couldn't control Slovakia's wealth of talent at forward — the Rangers' Marian Gaborik, the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa, the Canucks' Pavol Demitra — talent Canada can more than match.

Consider this: Fourteen Canadians had a goal or an assist against Russia, and not one of them was named Sidney Crosby. The Penguins star has three goals in the Olympics and won the shootout against Switzerland, yet hasn't had a breakout game.

"Canada is probably the best team in this tournament," Satan said. "We're going to be the underdog as we were (against Sweden), so we have nothing to lose."

Crosby told NHL.com the Canadians watched the Slovakia-Sweden game, "so I think we have a pretty good idea of how committed they are to playing as a team, and it's going to be a good test for us."

The Americans' opponent was in the second tier of pretournament medal contenders.

"We are probably not the biggest favorites here," said goalie Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames, who made 31 saves against the Czechs. "But when you play as a team, everything is possible."

The Americans and the Finns have met in each of the past two Olympics, with Finland winning their most recent quarterfinal, in 2006.

"It's not going to be easy," said Finland and Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, who at 39 is playing in his final Olympics and became the top scorer in men's Olympic hockey history in this tournament. "We want to play our best game that night, and whatever happens, we can live with that."

For the Czechs, the 38-year-old Jagr played through an upper-body injury but couldn't capitalize on several golden scoring chances in what was almost certainly his final Olympic game.

"It always comes to the goaltender, whoever makes better saves," the former NHL MVP and Stanley Cup winner said. "Unless you get such scoring power — nobody really has it, (except) Canada."

Semis ready for anything 02/25/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 25, 2010 10:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays send down Chase Whitley, Andrew Kittredge; add Chih-Wei Hu, acitvate Alex Cobb

    Blogs

    After having to cover more than five innings following a short start by Austin Pruitt, the Rays shuffled their bullpen following Wednesday's game, sending down RHPs Chase Whitley and Andrew Kittredge,

    The Kittredge move was expected, as he was summoned to add depth to the pen Wednesday in advance of RHP Alex …

  2. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred moves closer to wanting a decision on Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred called Wednesday for urgency from Tampa Bay area government leaders to prioritize and move quicker on plans for a new Rays stadium.

    MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred talks with reporters at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Wednesday's Rays-Blue Jays game

    The Heater

    The Austin Pruitt experiment might be over, or at least put on pause. After allowing six runs over seven innings to Seattle on Friday, the rookie didn't get through the fourth Wednesday, giving up five runs on four homers. His ERA for past six starts: 5.29.

  4. Six home runs doom Rays in loss to Blue Jays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — A curve that didn't bounce was the difference Wednesday as the Rays lost 7-6 to the Blue Jays in front of 8,264, the smallest Tropicana field crowd since Sept. 5, 2006.

    Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (11) greets center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) at the plate after his two run home run in the third inning of the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017.
  5. Jones: Stop talking and start building a new Rays stadium

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was good to see Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred at Tropicana Field on Wednesday, talking Rays baseball and the hope for a new stadium somewhere in Tampa Bay.

    Commissioner Rob Manfred is popular with the media on a visit to Tropicana Field.