The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are finaly upon us. Zdeno Chara (after his too-short bed was fitted with a little extension) proudly made Slovakian flag fly the highest in the opening ceremonies. The first mom of hockey, Natalia Malkin, ran a leg in the Olympic torch relay. Maria Sharapova carried the torch into the Olympic stadium where the legendary Vladislav Tretiak and Irina Rodnina lit it up.
There will be no NHL hockey during the Games. There will be no player transactions either, as the rosters will be frozen as well. Here at Pensburgh we will provide a daily recap of everything that's going on in Sochi hockey-wise.
A few months back, we did a series of Olympic previews and roster predictions for all the countries participating in the tournament. This introductory article covered everything you need to know about the tournament format, schedule, and playing hockey on the big ice and how it might be different from playing on the North American-size rink.
Here is the full US TV schedule (with times and channels) for Olympic hockey. The first day of the men's tournament is Wednesday, so we will use the next three days to analyze each group:
Sunday: Group A (Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, USA)
Monday: Group B (Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway)
Tuesday: Group C (Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland)
Quite a few things have changed since we previewed the teams, most importantly there have been a number of injuries to significant players. In addition to Steven Stamkos for Canada, Henrik Sedin is out for Sweden, Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula are out for Finland, and Slovakia won't have Marian Gaborik.
Once the matches start, we'll have a daily article with recaps of the previous day's matches and the preview of the matches to be played that day. I will try to post them around midnight the day before to make sure the timing's right. We'll pay special attention to the seven Pens players and their performances and ensure it's relevant to our community here.
I hope you guys are enjoying watching the games. I've only ever attended one Winter Olympics (Sarajevo in 1984 while my mom worked there), and it was an experience I carried with me forever. I saw Katarina Witt win gold with a breathtaking skate, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean perform that unforgettable Ravel's Bolero to win ice dancing gold for Great Britain (what?), and of course my beloved Tretiak, Bilyaletdinov, Fetisov, Larionov, Makarov and Kasatonov reclaim the hockey gold following the Lake Placid heartbreak 4 years earlier.
Our pledge drive is doing pretty well, and we expect an even bigger boost from the Olympic tournament. So, while you're cheering for your favorite player or country, do pledge a buck or two on their goals, points, or wins. At the end of the drive (concluding with the Pens outdoor game at Soldier Field vs. the Blackhawks on March 1) we hope to send a nice check to Pittsburgh Children's that will make a lot of sick kids very happy by helping make their long hospital stay a little easier. Thank you!