Sochi Watch: The Penguins Are Kicking Butt
It was a good first week for Penguins at the Olympics. Here’s a rundown.
Photo courtesy of USA Hockey
Whether you’re rooting for the Penguins Olympians en masse or Team USA alone, there’s been plenty to like after the first three days of men’s ice hockey in Sochi.
Let’s start with Olli Maatta, Jussi Jokinen and the Finns: after two games, they sit atop the Group B rankings with six points. On Thursday, they bested Austria in an 8-4 slugfest, with both Penguins notching goals. On Friday, they beat Norway 6-1; Maatta scored his second goal of the Olympics.
Elsewhere in Group B, Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and the rest of Team Canada are neck-and-neck with Finland after beating Norway (3-1) and Austria (6-0). Canada and Finland will fight for the group title (and a guaranteed bye to the quarterfinals) on Sunday at noon EST.
Evgeni Malkin — the only Penguin to take the ice without any black-and-gold brethren on his squad — notched three points in Russia’s 5-2 victory over Slovenia yesterday, grabbing his first goal less than four minutes after the puck dropped and then setting up Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk later in the game. (Pretty stacked, that Russian squad.) Russia’s second contest is tomorrow … now, who are they playing again?
Brooks Orpik (who finished +3 in 10:51 of ice time) and Paul Martin saw plenty of action in Team USA’s opening statement, a 7-1 blasting of Slovenia that put the rest of the field on notice: once again, Team USA is going to be a formidable foe. There may be no more hotly-anticipated matchup in the opening round than tomorrow’s matchup between Russia and the U.S. Whatever the outcome, it’s likely to fuel a pair of teams that have serious medal ambitions.
Set your alarm. Puck drops morning at 7:30 a.m. EST.
Meanwhile, the U.S. women are only one win from the gold-medal game, as they await an opponent for the semifinals. If you’d like to scout the competition, Finland and Sweden will face off very early tomorrow at 3:00 a.m. to determine who will play David to the American Goliath. Brianne McLaughlin and company will try to fend off that opponent Monday; not to look ahead or anything, but the (almost certainly Canada vs. U.S.) gold-medal game is scheduled for next Thursday at noon.