Finland 8, Austria 4 (Bolshoy Ice Dome)
This game was entertaining in that there were 12 goals, but neither team was particularly great as a whole. Grabner scored a hat-trick and was the lone bright spot for Austria, while Mikael Granlund and last-minute injury callup Jarkko Imonen were the best players on the ice for Finland, with two goals apiece. Jussi Jokinen had one goal and one assist and his play behind the net was particularly strong. Olli Maatta had a rocky start on defense but, as is his MO, quickly made up for it by stronger play as the game went on, and he also scored a beautiful long-distance goal in the last seconds of the first period, giving Finland the lead it would not relinquish. Olli Jokinen, who assisted on the goal, made sure to get that puck for Maatta - his first Olympic goal in what I hope will be a long and illustrious career spent in a Pens jersey (with a white/blue changeover every 4 years). The Finnish defense needs Maatta like the roses need the rain. Their best players Timonen and Salo aren't exactly spring chickens, and they looked slow and leaky yesterday. It was good enough to beat Austria, but won't be enough in latter stages of the tournament.
USA 7, Slovakia 1 (Shayba Arena)
This was surprisingly the most lopsided game of the day. USA looked phenomenal, the much criticized slow players skated circles around the bumbling Slovaks, hung on to the puck for what seemed like forever, won almost every faceoff, and scored at will. American lines looked great. JVR-Pavelski-Kessel, Parise-Kesler-Kane, Pacioretty-Stastny-Oshie, I can't tell you which line was best - they were simply superb. I know the Slovaks lost several of their best players and came into the tournament weakened, though. And don't look now, but no American skater had more TOI than Paul Martin. He and Suter looked good out there. At any rate, what a great start for team USA.
Russia 5, Slovenia 2 (Bolshoy Ice Dome)
This game became a little dicey in the second period when the Slovenians made it 2-1 then 3-2, but the Russians unleashed the weapons and pulled away in the third. The Ovechkin-Malkin-Semin line is basically doing what they want. Stars rookie Val Nichushkin was at one point looking like a scratch, but he rewarded the coaches for their trust by a beautiful goal. They need to move him up. Datsyuk looks far from 100%. Slovenia tried hard, but was heavily outgunned.
Canada 3, Norway 1 (Bolshoy Ice Dome)
Who would think Canada's game would be the most boring one of the four? Indeed, after the scoreless first period, red-clad fans were already pondering what's wrong with their team. I don't see many problems - yet. Carter doesn't seem to be working on the Crosby line - I'd try Duchene. Otherwise they looked pretty strong and when the lines start to mesh, look out.
Here's the full TV schedule for the US.
Czech Republic vs. Latvia (3 am EST, MSNBC)
A clash of teams that both lost their first match. The Czechs must redeem themselves against the weakest team in their group. Latvia had a heartbreaker loss against Switzerland and will try their damnedest to hang with the Czechs and maybe get things to overtime. Ondrej Pavelec will start in goal for the Czechs, whose goalie situation is a hot mess. Prediction: Czech Republic (I'm putting my 6-0 record on the line here)
Sweden vs. Switzerland (7:30 am EST, NBCSN)
Sweden meets Switzerland in a replay of last May's World Championship finals. Sweden was firing on all cylinders in the first game, but have suffered a crushing blow with the announcement that captain Henrik Zetterberg has had a worsening of the nagging back injury and is done for the tournament. Sedin, Franzen, now Zetterberg. I still think they can win against Switzerland, but their chances against the strongest teams without three of their top players aren't looking great any more. Prediction: Sweden
Norway vs. Finland (12 noon EST, MSNBC)
These two teams are painfully familiar with each other. Finland played a messy first game and they need to clean it up big-time if they are to win this game, as Norway is in fact a quality team. Prediction: Finland
Canada vs. Austria (12 noon EST, USA)
Austrians don't have many guns, but the three that they do have better get up for this game or it'll end the same way as the Finland game. Thomas Vanek needs to step up and follow Grabner's lead. Prediction: Canada
SCORING RACE AND PLAYER TRACKER
What with 31 goals scored in 4 games on Thursday, our scoring race has many new runners. Here is the current leaderboard, with Grabner, Granlund, Kessel, Malkin and Vatanen tied with 3 points apiece.
The NHL has introduced a really handy player tracker by team, so now you can follow all the players from your team in one place.