Thursday Olympic Points: Russia, USA, Canada in Action

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Every day of the Olympic hockey tournament, we'll recap the previous day's games and preview what's on tap the next day. We're also keeping track of the scoring.

WEDNESDAY GAMES

Sweden 4, Czech Republic 2 (Bolshoy Ice Dome)

My gold-medal picks are doing well so far. The Swedes jumped to a 4-0 lead on the Czechs, and cruised from there. Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson shone in the opener, as did Lundqvist, especially in the third period when the suddenly desperate Czechs were throwing everything and the kitchen sink at him. I don't quite get how Hemsky and Erat ended up on this team, while Hudler, Vrbata, Havlat and Fleischmann ended up off of it. That said, their biggest problems Wednesday were in net (clearly Ondrej Pavelec will get to start game 2). Read the recap here.

Switzerland 1, Latvia 0 (Shayba Arena)

This was a heartbreaker for the Latvians, as they were 7.9 seconds away from at least 1 point. As it was, Nino Niederreiter's shot deflected off of Pujacs and into the net behind the spectacular Edgars Masalkis who was stopping the puck left and right. Read the recap here. Latvia definitely let what could have been a defining moment slip away.

THURSDAY SCHEDULE

Here's the viewing guide with links to watch online in English and French.

Finland vs. Austria (3 am EST, NBCSN)

Somehow, I don't know how, but somehow I'll try to be awake at 3 am to witness Olli Maatta's Olympic debut. There are so many story lines and good matchups to look forward to here, and the game preview is here. Prediction: Finland

Russia vs. Slovenia (7:30 am EST, MSNBC)

After a few days as the smiling, welcoming hosts, the Russians are going to work. This might be the most lopsided game on tap today. I don't envy my Slovenian buddies. This is their country's first-ever Olympic participation, and they get to be the fodder for the Russian cannons. Full game preview here. Prediction: Russia

USA vs. Slovakia (7:30 am EST, NBCSN)

Jonathan Quick will start in net for team USA. Faulk, Stepan and Howard will be scratches. Chris Peters of the United States of Hockey has an excellent take on what this means for the goal-tending situation going forward. The US team is bringing a lot more offense with it than is generally thought. Full game preview here. Prediction: USA

Canada vs. Norway (12 noon EST, USA)

Carey Price gets the start for team Canada. They already announced that Luongo will start their next game. Apparently, guys, Norway has beaten Canada in hockey before. It did happen one time. They can still hang on to that memory. Prediction: Canada

STATS AND SCORING RACE

Extra Skater is keeping busy at the Olympics by giving us all the team stats and player stats, both men's and women's. They are the best. We are going to keep track of the scoring race, so look for the updated scoring leaderboard every day. For now, Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson sit at the top with 2 points apiece. Heja Sverige!

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