For a few moments we weren’t completely sure we’d get the USA vs Canada semifinal we expected, thanks to Latvia playing the game of their lives in pushing their world class opponents to the absolute limit. Team USA play well overall, again, and handle the Czech Republic relatively easily.
So now we have a series of boarder battles:
Women’s ice hockey final
USA vs Canada
Thursday 1130AM EST, 430 PM UK
Men’s ice hockey semifinals
USA vs Canada
Friday, the puck drops TBD
We’ll also have live coverage the other men’s semi on Friday, that’s another war - Finland vs Sweden.
A few emails before we go:
Too early for the Canuck Fans to be predicting anything, when they are barely beating a high school level team.
A bit unfair to Latvia, but really, I hear you Kirk.
Now the “Reading Task Force” chime in:
If I were to bet, I’d take USA over Canada in the semifinal, based on current form. But keep in mind that at the 2010 Olympics, Canada was 6th (!) after the group stage, and barely got past Slovakia in the semifinal . . . before winning the tournament. Opening round was pretty shaky for Canadians in 2002 as well.
That’s all for our coverage, but we’ll be back starting Thursday and have all the big games through to the finals. Until then, thanks for reading.
Canada 2-1 Latvia, Final
Well, that was easy say Canada. Or not. Well, that’s entertainment - tremendous effort by Latvia, it goes without saying of course.
Canada 2-1 Latvia, 00:10, 3rd period
Latvia ice the puck - so now they face a face off deep in their zone and lose the extra skater again.
Canada 2-1 Latvia, 00:25, 3rd period
Latvia are offsides so now there’s a face off outside Canada’s zone.
Canada 2-1 Latvia, 00:44, 3rd period
The Latvian net is empty - Canada calls a timeout.
Czech Republic 2-5 USA, Final
It’s over at Shayba Arena, the US win it easily and move on.
Jagr’s five Olympic 28-game career is over. Standing ovation from this blog.
Clebrations or relief?
Finally! Sweet baby Jesus in Huggies. Thank you, Weber.
GOAL! Canada 2-1 Latvia, 6:25, 3rd period
Doughty sticks aside to Weber, who unloads from point - GOAL! ! ! ! !
Canada breathes! Kristers Gudlevskis may have never seen it!
Jagr to get a hat-trick...and by the way what on earth do you think Czech hockey fans are if they have a bowl of soup when watching games...
Oh boy...I forgot about that!
GOAL! Czech Republic 2-5 USA, 7:00, 3rd period
The Czech Republic get one back - Ales Hemsky at center shoots across his body and past Quick, over his stick side shoulder.
Canada 1-1 Latvia, 8:51, 3rd period
Doughty draws a slashing penalty and now Canada go on the power play. This will be Canada’s fourth power play of the game, and it’s a big one for both teams.
Click on this for a look at the no-goal call.
Canada 1-1 Latvia, 11:31, 3rd period
Canada is celebrating a goal but the refs aren’t buying it.
There’s a battle in front of the net, Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevskis is down with his arms extended. Is it in? It looks like Kristaps Sotnieks reached out and pulled it back from over the goal line! That’s a penalty shot! But it’s not reviewable! I think...
It’s a bit chaotic but in the end it’s no goal! We’re still tied!
Easton returns with this:
Based on the unscientific survey of conversations with colleagues, emails from friends and Facebook/twitter feed I am getting: Canada is a very anxious, unhappy country.
Oh yeah, I can buy that. They are closing on on half-way through the third period and Canada (over 2600 rinks) remain tied with Latvia (17 rinks).
GOAL! Czech Republic 1-5 USA, 17:59, 3rd period
More close range results from the USA Kesel to Kessler - the cross ice pass is on the money, or right on the stick to be more exact. That was unfair to Salak really.
Is the sun about to set on Jagr’s Olympic career? He’s got 20 minutes left.
And here come the Czechs, a furious assault, and Jagr is in the mix as the puck gets underneath Quick! That’s a fast start from the underdogs, who have tinkered with their lines to kickstart something.
Over at Bolshoi
Canada and Latvia are back at it, as the world watched what could become one of the biggest upsets in hockey history. Emphasis on could.
Andrew Kupfer tells us what’s holding Czech’s interest right now...
...and Czech fans are watching the Ladies Figure Skating short program.
Canada - Latvia
De Clair is back:
Latvia have to be tired. Played last night, they’re all in either the KHL or even the AHL, and they’ve played almost the entire game in their own end. Take it from me that hurts. Still they’re all loosey goosey. Nothing to loose. Canada tighter than a very tight drum
Czech Republic 1-4 USA, end of 2nd period
Well, it ain’t lighting the world on fire, but this game is serving the USA well. Relatively easy going, drama free skating at Shawyba. The United States are in complete and total control, and have been for about 85% of this game.
Canada 1-1 Latvia, end of 2nd period
Why are Latvia still tied with Canada?
Shawn De Clair says:
Just clutching the sticks a little too hard at the moment...35 shots and counting... Latvia have nothing to lose. Incredible to watch.
Czech Republic 1-4 USA, 3:50, 2nd period
Easy come easy go. Voracek trips T.J. Oshie and so the teams are at even strength again, just like that. Way to go boys.
Czech Republic 1-4 USA, 4:28, 2nd period
Kessel with a shot on net from the circle, off the pads of Salak.
Backes is everywhere - enormous blast by Callahan, Backes finds the rebound, challenges Salak but he makes a save. So far so good for Salak.
Penalty - interference by Orpik, and the Czech Republic will have a man advantage and a shot at getting somewhat back in this game.
Czech Republic 1-4 USA, 6:48, 2nd period
Brown roughs up Frolík behind the USA net.
Jagr flings one to Cervenka who is in front of the net, he gets little on the puck and Quick has it.
The shots are close, 14-12 USA, but the game is not.
...they are STILL tied at the Bolshoi Ice Dome!
They were fixing some glass along the boards, but now we’re back.
GOAL! Czech Republic 1-4 USA, 10:29, 2nd period
Pavelski a huge shot from point - Paise is there for the rebound and he jams it in! That’s a power play goal! One that was kind of rough on Pavelec, who looked terrible on that goal, hence this...
Pavelec is out, Alexander Salák. That makes sense.
Czech Republic 1-3 USA, 11:08, 2nd period
Oshie plows Martins Cipulis.
Then the Czechs come back Zidlicky winds up - big slap shot from center and Quick gets enough pad on it to force it wide.
Now a penalty - Team USA will go on the power play - Zbyněk Michálek hits Kesler into the boards.
That can only be bad news for Canada, right?
Czech Republic 1-3 USA, 16:00, 2nd period
Time is flying by this period and so is Backes who gets a pass from Kane and winds up - shooting high and wide - that was his second chance in just a few moments.
More on the Ryan's
Sergio follows up on an earlier email:
No - changing your name to Ryan Ryan will not get it done. Bobby Ryan was left off the team, leading to some controversy.
At Shayba Arena we are back on - Jagr’s backhander goes wide as the action begins.
Over at Bolshoi
The Ice Dome has action, Canada and Latvia have dropped the puck and begin the second period.
Canada look angry, a Jeff Carter slap shot comes after he carries the puck from behind the net - it is saved by Kristers Gudlevskis.
An early assault may be underway.
So who were the 5 Canadians on the ice who were asleep? At least one of them wasn’t PK Subban. He’s not even dressed thanks to the brain-dead Mike Babcock.
Kevin Ryan says:
Is it compulsory to be called Ryan to get into the USA team? Maybe if I changed my first name to Ryan I might get a game.- I’d be Ryan Ryan then- must be a shoe-in....
G Easton chimes in:
I think we Canadians are of mixed emotions re Finland beating Russia. In 2010 we figured we knew how to solve the Russians - hit the hard and get goals early then wait for the team to disintegrate into petulant millionaire individuals. In 2014 the formula seemed destined to work again. And Finland proved it.
Now we might have to play the tough and resilient Finns. The Finns love playing the Swedes like we love playing the USA. Anything could happen there. That’s scary.
Can the Czechs stun the USA? That would ruin NBC’s day, for sure. Almost seems worth hoping for on that basis. And Canada has unfinished business with the Czechs. Two words: Nagano 1998.
P.S. It’s Vancouver Island, not Victoria Island. Victoria is a city on the aforementioned Island.
My hands are up and I’m coming out of the building!
Czech Republic 1-3 USA, end of 1st period
Both games are at the break right now. The US have a lead and a 9-7 shot advantage. The Canadians are tied despite outshooting Latvia 16-6 - that’s the story right now for sure.
GOAL! Czech Republic 1-3 USA, 0:02, 1st period
Ryan Suter shoots wide, possibly intentionally, and the rebound off the boards is right to Backes - he shoots top shelf to score!
There’s the Pavelec, allowing Backes to score when there was zero, and I do mean zero room to play with.
That’s one heck of a bad way to end a period, and to make sure your heads are down heading into the break. Credit Suter and McDonagh with the assist.
Here is how Latvia got their goal.
Czech Republic 1-2 USA, 2:49, 1st period
Callahan sweeping across, fires away, and a tremendous glove save from Ondrej Pavelec, who took an awful lot of stick coming in to this game but looked good there keeping his team within a goal.
GOAL! Canada 1-1 Latvia, 3:23, 1st period
Latvia have tied the score! Lauris Darzins beating Price - can you believe that?
Some disagreement on draw toughness here:
GOAL! Czech Republic 1-2 USA, 5:11, 1st period
David Backes puts a body on Jaromir Jagr - then later in the shift whips a cross ice pass to Brown who has an enormous amount of real estate to play with, and fires it into the back of the net.
Team USA back on top!
GOAL! Canada 1-0 Latvia, 6:23, 1st period
Canada’s Patrick Sharp puts them on the board, as Canadians from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island breathe a little bit.
Czech Republic 1-1 USA, 8:26, 1st period
Fowler hits the post! Then Pavelec makes a great stick save on JVR who was skating with purpose down the middle and had room! Defenders just watched him fly by, didn’t seem to interested in getting involved.
Lot’s of action!
Czech Republic 1-1 USA, 9:10, 1st period
Quick note - Marek Zidlicky gets the assist on the Czech goal, even though it should have come from the USA’s two Ryans, McDonagh and Suter.
Here’s Nedved from behind the net, Frolik is there – his shot is wide! Then Nedved shoots from the left circle – it hits the post! How about these Czechs?! They look like getting steamrolled moments ago, now they are dominating the play.
More: Hemsky with a big shot and a stick side save from Quick. They’re relentless!
Meanwhile, no score between Latvia and Canada, which should have some North Americans a bit confused.
GOAL! Czech Republic 1-1 USA, 15:29, 1st period
ALL Team USA early, controlling the pace and the puck - but wait...
Out of absolutely nowhere, the Czechs tie it up!! Ales Hemsky skating, driving towards the net, spins - the puck is lose - it looks like it comes off of Ryan McDonagh, then off Ryan Suter, and into the net past Quick! Whoa! That is a wild sequence of events, one that levels the score! Hemsky gets the credit but he had help from some unlikely skaters there.
GOAL! Czech Republic 0-1 USA, 18:41, 1st period
How about this! James van Riemsdyk stuffs the puck into the net from no angle! How did that happen?Nightmare start for the Czechs!
That Kessel-JVR-Pavelski line are totally unstoppable right now - and a little smirk from USA coach Dan Bylsma, a bit early for that...
Assist goes to Ryan Kesler.
We’re off, not only at the Shayba Arena where the USA are wearing their white sweaters and the Czech Republic are in their red, but also at the Bolshoi Ice Dome, where Canada are off and skating in their white jerseys, Latvia in maroon.
Carey Price continues to start ahead of Roberto Luongo in net for Canada. Jonathan Quick is in net for the USA.
James Mirtle of the Toronto Globe and Mail does a great job telling the tale of the “The bizarre dysfunction of the Czech hockey team”, which details how this current team was put together, which, according to him, is less than sensibly.
Meanwhile, one of their best players is at home injured. Tomáš Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, whose ability to score goals would be a welcome asset on this team, is not buying the narrative.
Sweden cruised to a 5-0 victory over Slovenia behind a second Olympics shutout from Henrik Lundqvist, while Russia disappointed one more time. Their 3-1 defeat to Finland means they not only don’t take gold on home ice, but that they have won zero medals in their prior three Games. Alex Ovechkin in particular was guilty of letting the home team down, disappearing when his team needed him most.
So Sweden will face Finland in an all Scandinavian semifinal match-up.
The opening round format of the Olympics ice hockey tournament has something of a kindergarten field day feel to it – no losers, everybody gets a ribbon. For the first three games it didn’t matter how many goals you lost by, there was no chance of being sent home.
That all changed on Tuesday with Slovakia, Austria, Norway and Switzerland being ousted in the qualifications round, while Latvia, Slovenia, Russia and the Czech Republic moved on.
Now the stakes rise another notch.
It’s quarter-finals day in Sochi – Finland and Sweden have already found their way to the final four, and now the United States face the Czech Republic while Canada enjoy a light afternoon skate against Latvia.
The biggest blow to Team USA’s men’s ice hockey team in Sochi hasn’t come on the ice, but rather, in the draw. The United States have arguably the toughest road to a gold medal, one that starts today against Czech Republic, who dispatched their old roommates Slovakia 5-3 to earn the meeting. Despite their challenging path, one that could lead to Canada next round, the US are quite fancied these days, especially after an undefeated opening round where the line of Phil Kessel, JVR and Joe Pavelski lit up the Caucasus, part of a group of USA forwards that have already scored 11 goals.
If you wanted to play devils advocate, you could say they beat a Slovakian team that was wildly disappointing, a Slovenian club that are in their first Olympic Games and that they probably lose to Russia if goalie Jonathan Quick doesn’t inadvertently kick the net off the moorings, ever so slightly. That would be a misguided argument – this is the best Team USA hockey team for some time, and they really should win today.
Still, the Czech Republic are always capable of pulling off the unexpected. Many eyes will be on the old raisin, Jaromir Jagr, who continues to provide his team with a level of play not commensurate with his age. The downside is you don’t know how much the 42-year-old has left heading into back-to-back games, especially when rumor has it he’s getting his legs worked on by trainers after every shift. The inconsistent Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec is seen as a hole, not good for a netminder, mind you, and that’s also not in their favor, especially against this super deep US offense.
Now, we all know by now that past performance doesn’t guarantee future results (see Sweden vs USA women’s semifinal), but while we’re here, it’s worth bringing up the events of Nagano, if not just for fun. That was when these teams met in the same round in 1998, Jagr had a goal and an assist while Dominik Hasek stopped 38 shots in dispatching Team USA 4-1 en route to a gold medal.
That Czech team didn’t have a primary defensive pairing with a combined age of 72, and Jagr was a full 14 years younger. Did I mention that this Czech squad also includes Petr Nedvěd? That means this group has two players from the Sega classic video game NHL 95 - surely that’s worrisome.
Expect Dan Bylsma’s men to set the tone early on and throw the kitchen sink at a rebound prone Pavelec, whose stats during second games of back-to-backs are gag worthy.
Meanwhile, Mike Babcock and Canada, sit back, relax and face Latvia, who are flying high after pulling off an upset of Switzerland. If they do the same against Canada, I will send each and every one of you a crisp five dollar bill. Sound good? We’ll have updates of that game as we provide you with all the action of our main game, USA vs Czech Republic.
The puck drops at noon on the east coast of the United States, and at 5PM in the UK. So go get your hotdogs and apple pie and a bowl of polévka, then come back and tweet in to @lengeldavid, or write firstname.lastname@example.org