Wednesday Olympic Points: Quarterfinal Matchups

Martin Rose

Matchups and predictions for Olympic men's hockey quarterfinals.

Well, here we are. Olympic tourney is down to the Elite Eight. Some surprises, but mostly the usual suspects. Let's see who we've got:

(1) Sweden vs. (8) Slovenia (3 am EST)

We didn't see this matchup coming, did we? Sweden won their 3 group games, although whether they won them comfortably is up for debate. They got off to a torrid 4-0 start to finish 4-2 vs. the Czechs, won 1-0 against Switzerland on a lonely rebound, and outgunned Latvia through an Erik Karlsson onslaught. In theory they are still a considerably better team than the "just happy to be here" Slovenians, although in a single elimination game anything can happen. Still, I think at this point Cinderella's carriage turns back into a pumpkin. Prediction: Sweden

(4) Finland vs. (5) Russia (7:30 am EST)

The most evenly matched opponents of the day. Finland has lost some key players, but they are just so even-keeled it's almost uncanny. I absolutely don't think this is a slam dunk for Russia. They seem to be just warming up, true, and they have better players, but the Finns are, in my opinion, the better team. Prediction: Finland

(3) Canada vs. (11) Latvia (12 noon EST)

After Mike Babcock spent a half-hour answering questions about Switzerland, someone thought to check the score. Back to the drawing board! Reshuffle the lines! Get Kunitz back with Crosby! Latvians are thrilled to be at this point in the tournament, and they'll leave it with their heads up high. Prediction: Canada

(2) USA vs. (7) Czech Republic (12 noon EST)

And on the 5th anniversary of coaching in his first game for the Pittsburgh Penguins (on February 19, 2009), Dan Bylsma gets to trot out his team USA against the Czech Republic and their spring chickens. If I were Petr Nedved I'd be tired just thinking about all these games I've played and looking to rest up (it's only been 4, just kidding). Actually, I have a feeling it'll be a lot less one-sided than people think. Still, USA is the stronger and more balanced team, with better defense and better goaltending. Prediction: USA

Here we go. Time for the cream to rise to the top. Oh and by the way, all our guys have made it to today, so that in itself was a great ride.

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