Olympic Men’s Hockey Update: The Preliminary Round Kicks Off

8111980 12.02.2022 Players of the United States celebrate after scoring a goal in the men’s ice hockey preliminary round group A match between Canada and the United States during the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games at National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, China. (Alexey Filippov / Sputnik via AP)

The Olympic Men’s Hockey tournament started on the 9th. Because of how much larger the team pool is in the Men’s tournament, these recaps will be focused on team USA and the four favorites in the tournament: The Russian Olympic Committee, Finland, Sweden, and Canada. These teams had big starts to the tournament, even if they only played a couple times in the past few days. 

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) vs. Switzerland:

ROC Wins 

Score: 1-0 

Shot Count: 33-30 (in favor of ROC)  

Goal Scorers: 

ROC: Anton Slepyshev

Switzerland: N/A

Takeaways: Great goaltending for both teams. This game was very tight despite a relatively high shot count. The ROC is the favorite to win gold this Olympics; hopefully, their offense is more robust than what was seen here, but if their goaltending continues to play this well, gold could very much be in their future. 

Sweden vs. Latvia: 

Sweden Wins! 

Score: 3-2

Shot Count: 26-17 (in favor of Sweden) 

Goal Scorers: 

Sweden: Lucas Wallmark (2), Anton Lander (1) 

Latvia: Renars Krastenbergs (1) Nikolajs Jelisejevs (1)

Takeaways: Sweden’s defense 5-on-5 looks unreal as they limited Latvia to under 20 shots. However, they might need to look at their penalty kill as both of Latvia’s goals came on the powerplay. 

USA vs. China 

Score: 8-0

Shot Count: 55-29 ( in favor of the USA) 

Goal Scorers: 

USA: Sean Farrell (3), Brendan Brisson (1), Noah Cates (1), Brian O’Neill (1), Ben Myers (1), Matty Beniers (1) 

China: N/A

Takeaways: The USA showed that they are here to play; despite not being favored to make the finals in Men’s hockey, they came out and showed their skills putting up 55 shots and 8 goals, with 5 coming from 5 different players indicating a good amount of scoring depth. Drew Commesso also posted a 29 save shutout, which is an impressive feat in itself. The USA will have to play spoiler this tournament if they want to medal, and they have been able to do that so far. 

Canada vs. Germany 

Canada Wins! 

Score: 5-1

Shot Count: 27-24 (in favor of Canada)

Goal Scorers: 

Canada: Alex Grant (1), Ben Street (1), Daniel Winnik (1), Maxim Noreau (1), Jordan Weal (1)

Germany: Tobias Rieder (1)

Takeaways: Canada had five goals by five different players. Their scoring depth is off the charts. However, the shot count was pretty tight, which means the most significant difference is finishing ability and goaltending. Canada’s players scored more than Germany because they had better finishing ability and goaltending. Keeping Germany at 24 shots is also an impressive defensive effort on Canada’s behalf. It could have been stronger but still, holding the shots under 30 is an excellent sign for Canada’s defense. 

Finland vs. Slovakia: 

Score: 6-2

Shot Count: 33-30 (in favor of Latvia) 

Goal Scorers: 

Finland: Sakari Manninen (3), Miro Aaltonen (2), Harri Pesonen (1), 

Slovakia: Juraj Slafkovsky (2)

Takeaways: Team Finland’s scoring all came from three players, which is incredibly concerning when it comes to their depth. However, two players having multi goals games should still be celebrated. Finland was not dramatically outshot, but they were outshot in general, which is never a super positive sign. Finland is the other team besides the ROC most favored to win gold. If they want to do that, they can’t let their opponents get more shots on goal than them. 

Denmark vs. ROC: 

ROC Wins! 

Score: 2-0

Shot Count: 32-16 (in favor of ROC) 

Goal Scorers: 

Denmark: N/A

ROC: Pavel Karnaukhov (1), Kirill Semyonov (1)

Takeaways: ROC’s goaltending and defense looked absolutely neutralizing. They say defense wins championships, and this ROC team seems to be putting that to the test. Without NHL players in the Olympics, ROC’s gold to lose. They look great. Again offense is a bit of concern, but they did get 32 shots which is nothing to turn up your nose at. 

Sweden vs. Slovakia: 

Sweden Wins!

Score: 4-1

Shot Count: 41-28 (in favor of Slovakia) 

Goal Scorers: 

Sweden: Joakim Nordstrom (1), Lucas Wallmark (1), Max Friberg (1), Carl Klingberg

Slovakia: Juraj Slafkovsky(1)

Takeaways: Slovakia really is putting up a fight. They have outshot Finland and Sweden in their past few games. Juraj Slafkovsky is really putting the team on his back offensively. Still, Sweden is finding a way to win even when being outshot. Sweden is behind ROC and Finland for being favored to win this tournament and their ability to overcome adversity and win a game they maybe weren’t supposed to win if you look at who dominated possession. 

USA vs. Canada: 

USA Wins! 

Score: 4-2

Shot Count: 30-27 (in favor of Canada) 

Goal Scorers: 

USA: Andy Miele (1), Ben Meyers (1), Brendan Brisson (1) , Kenny Agostino (1) 

Canada: Mat Robinson (1), Corban Knight (1)

Takeaways: What a great game by team USA. They utilized their speed and strength on the forecheck to generate chances that the Canadians could not stop. Even though they allowed 30 shots which is not ideal for any team’s defense, Team USA’s goalie, Strauss Mann, played exceptionally well. Canada also played a good game, but many of their chances lacked the threat to them you have come to expect from any Canadian team. They struggled to keep up with the high-speed pace set by team USA but still managed to get a couple of goals and hold the USA to under 30 shots. Beating Canada is an excellent sign for the underdog power of team USA. Plenty of their young players who are somewhat mystery-boxes showed up. Jake Sanderson played his first Olympic game, and his presence on the blue was immediately noticeable. He had one point night but generated many scoring attempts with team USA. Team Canada’s fortunes could’ve been different if they decided to play Devon Levi in the net instead of Edward Pasquale. While Pasquale is a veteran goalie, Levi is supposed to be a future NHL starter and has performed excellently at Northeastern, where he attends college and plays hockey. Levi is supposedly the best goalie on Canada’s roster, but he has yet to be played. The United State’s fourth goal was fluky; there is a chance that with better goaltending, this game goes in Canada’s favor instead. 

Latvia vs. Finland: 

Score: 3-1

Shot Count: 38-20 (in favor of Finland) 

Goal Scorers: 

Finland: Valtteri Kemilainen (1), Leo Komarov (1), Marko Anttila (1)

Latvia: Rodrigo Abols (1)Takeaways: Finland played exceptionally well despite the close score. They got more shots on goal than their opponents, which is a heartening sign after their game where Slovakia was slightly outshot. This game was an excellent tight game that they dominated possession in. Finland is the second favorite behind the ROC in this tournament. Team ROC has shown that they play a very limiting defensive and goaltending heavy game, so if Finland can win 2 goal games, it will put them in a good place when they face off against team ROC.

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