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« Olympic Hockey Shifts to Elimination Mode, U.S. Savors Top Seed As The Bulls Turn: Zombies & Bulls Live Forever Edition »

Blackhawks Wed Feb 24 2010

U.S. Looks to Make Swiss Miss Again

Thanks to Switzerland's 3-2 shootout victory over Belarus last night, the U.S. men's hockey team will face a familiar foe in its quarterfinal game, which airs on NBC at 2pm today. For those stuck at work like myself and in the mood for some procrastinating, the game will also be online at nbcolympics.com (though you may need to be a cable/satellite subscriber to watch).

The Americans defeated the Swiss 3-1 in their opening round-robin game of the tournament Feb. 16. The U.S. earned that victory despite struggling to find some consistency in their 1st game together. Now, coming down from the ecstasy of their 5-3 victory over Canada and securing the top seed, the Americans have to not look past the Swiss, who can still be dangerous with Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller in net. Meanwhile, the U.S. has Ryan Miller between the pipes, who was nothing short of sensational, making 42 saves in the win over the Canadians.

In a little over a week since their last meeting, a lot has changed. The Americans are now favored and have a clear path to the medal round, with pre-tournament favorites Sweden, Russia and Canada all on the other side of the bracket. After looking shaky against the Swiss, the U.S.'s young and gritty team has fused into a cohesive unit with the veteran leadership of Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rafalski, who leads the team with four goals and five points.

With a victory, the Americans will move on to play the winner of the Finland-Czech Republic match Friday, with a gold medal date on the line. Times and channels will be announced tomorrow, pending the outcome of today's four quarterfinal contests.

In the other two quarterfinals, the one to watch will be the showdown between Russia and Canada tonight at 6:30pm on CNBC. With NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin facing off, one of the two top teams will be going home in what figures to be a knock-down, drag-out, leave it all on the ice battle. Canada advanced with an 8-2 win over Germany last night, with Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith notching 2 assists and forward Jonathon Toews adding another. The fourth quarterfinal features Hawks forwards Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky leading Slovakia against Sweden.

 
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