The opening round of Olympic hockey is over, and there certainly have been a few surprises already. Sweden beat out all the other teams to claim the number one seed going into the single elimination round. They did despite losing big name players to injury throughout the tournament. Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel earned the US first Olympic hat trick in twelve years(the last being John LeClair in 2002) in a 5-1 win over Slovenia and securing the second seed. Canada and Finland finished up the bye bracket. With Canada’s OT win over Finland, they ended in third and Finland fourth.
The bye round gives the top four seeds and extra day off while the other eight teams (led by a surprisingly sluggish Russia) begin their games on Tuesday.
So here is how the final rounds of game are shaping up. Eighth seed Slovenia takes on ninth seed Austria. The winner of that contest gets to joy of taking on a rested Swedish team in the quarter final round. Russia takes on winless Norway and the winner of that bout (miracles have happened on Olympic ice in the past) will take on Finland. Switzerland takes on Latvia and that winner takes on Patrice Bergeron and the rest of Team Canada.
The sad thing about the last bracket match means some Boston Bruins Olympic dream will be the first to go out. The seventh seed Czech Republic will be taking on the tenth placed Slovakia. Their geographical neighbors, and home to two of our best Bruins. David Krejci will be taking on his friend and captain Zdeno Chara to see which team will have the right to take on the explosive Team USA.
So far, Krejci has had a better Olympics so far. You can’t count out a man like Zdeno Chara though. Even in the 7-1 loss to Team USA earlier in the games, a man like Chara still went even on the plus/minus.
The big expected match up (barring some massive upset) will be Team USA and Team Canada meeting in the bottom bracket in the semi-finals. Both teams have been good (although Team Canada hasn’t exactly been explosive offensively), and that will be a rather titanic match, not to mention a repeat of the gold medal game four years earlier in Vancouver. Canada got the gold in overtime, and Team USA will certainly do all it can to avoid a repeat of that game.