Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It Just Gets Better/Tougher From Here

Alex Ovechkin will not admit it. Most of the Russian players will down play it. But Russia may be the team to beat in this year's tournament. Their first test against Latvia was not a perfect game for them. They have some growing to do, some chemistry to find with their teammates. But if a 8-2 drubbing is not perfect, I hate to see what the end game will look like for Russia.

The biggest concern for every team in this tournament is quickly learning to mesh with your line mates. Team USA's top line of Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Paul Stastny got off to a dominating start against Switzerland, but they didn't produce any goals. Gaining that chemistry is important for all the teams, but especially those teams stacked with NHL players.

"To be honest, right when I found out [who I would be playing with] I started to think," Parise said. "You start to think about the way Stastny plays and where he likes to go on the ice. What does Kane like to do. You start to think what you can do to help these guys and make the line better."

For three of the big power houses, USA, Canada and Russia, they faced rather easy foes to open the Olympic games. Soundly beating the Swiss, Team Norway and the Latvians respectfully has proven that these three are the heavy weights, but it's tough to know just how good these teams until they face one another.

That will be tested by Russia first on Thursday when they play a much better national team in Slovakia. "Our game is not perfect yet," Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuk told reporters following their 8-2 victory over Latvia. "We need to play simpler in defense. Our next opponents will make us do that."

When the international powerhouses start to face one another, the games will be more intense, more scrutinized and a whole lot more fun to watch.

Team USA's Upcoming Schedule:

Feb 18, 12:00 n - vs. Norway
Feb 21, 4:40 p - vs. Canada
Team Canada's Upcoming Schedule:
Feb 18, 4:30 p - vs. Switzerland
Feb 21, 4:40 p - vs. USA
Team Russia's Upcoming Schedule: (Ovechkin, Semin, Varlamov)
Feb 18, 9:00 p - vs. Slovakia
Feb 21, 12:00 n - vs. Czech Republic
Team Sweden's Upcoming Schedule: (Backstrom)
Feb 17, 4:30 p - vs. Germany
Feb 19, 12:00 n - vs. Belarus
Feb 21, 9:00 p - vs. Finland
Team Czech Republic's Upcoming Schedule: (Fleischmann)
Feb 17, 9:00 p - vs. Slovakia
Feb 19, 4:30 p - vs. Latvia
Feb 21, 12:00 n - vs. Russia

All times are Pacific (local Vancouver time)

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