Sweden and Slovenia, 3:00 AM EST (NBCSN)
Russia and Finland, 7:30 AM EST (NBCSN)
Latvia and Canada, 12:00 noon (MSNBC)
Czech Republic and United States, 12:00 noon (USA)
It's upsetting that so few of us get to watch these games live because thus far this has been an outstanding hockey tournament. I want to watch all of today's games but if I had a choose one I'd choose the one that almost all of you have programmed your DVRs to record; USA versus the Czech Republic.
The Americans have looked very solid in this tournament and have the benefit of a day of rest that the Czech team doesn't have. It's going to be interesting to see just how physical Team USA is with the potentially exhausted veteran Czech team and what matchups coach Dan Bylsma will be looking to make. It's safe to give the US the edge on the blue line and in net but don't underestimate the amount of offense in the Czech lineup, they have several players on their team that are more than capable of changing the complexion of a game with a single wrist shot or a perfect pass. I like USA's chances but this game probably won't be a walk in the park.
The other games today are obviously all worth our attention, especially the match up of the host nation Russia squaring off against the pesky Finnish team. I wouldn't be shocked if the Finns, who also got a day of rest, are simply too much for the Russians to handle this morning. There is a lot of attention and pressure on the Russian squad and they're squaring off against a very difficult, physical opponent. But if Semyon Varlamov (who was announced as the starter late last night) plays solid and if Russia can get some magic out of their superstar-studded lineup they could very well be on their way to the quarterfinals but getting past the Finns and Tuukka Rask will be no easy task.
Both Sweden and Canada are expected to win their games handily but one thing we've learned from previous Olympics is never to count any team out before the game is over. I wish I could be pulling for the underdog Slovenians but I simply can't bring myself to root against Henrik Lundqvist and Carl Hagelin. Sweden is dealing with more than their fair share of injuries but even with some big names out of the lineup they are likely to be more than the underdog Slovenians can handle.
If you get to watch any today's games live then please use this as your open thread, if you're watching them after they've aired you can use this thread as a discussion thread for all of the hockey action we had today. Let's see which four teams advance to the semifinals! Each team playing today is just three wins away from a gold medal.
Mike's Player to Watch: Jonathan Quick
In two games Quick has a shutout, 1.44 GAA , and a .944 SV%. Ryan Miller will almost certainly be the backup on the bench should the US need a goalie change against the Czechs but I don't think we'll be seeing that. Quick was excellent in his first two games and after getting some rest (Miller got the start against Slovenia) he's likely ready to go against the Czech team. I'd also keep an eye on Phil Kessel. Kessel's speed on the big ice has made him even more dangerous and dynamic than he is in the NHL. For my money he's been USA's best forward in the tournament thus far.
Question of the Day: Which four teams do you have advancing to the quarterfinals?
Let's Go Hockey!