Olympic playoff preview: Switzerland, Latvia engage in Group C rematch

1 Comment

The game: No. 6 Switzerland vs. No. 11 Latvia. Tuesday, 12 p.m. ET at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.

How they got here: The Swiss used stifling defense and the goaltending of Jonas Hiller to suffocate Group C opponents, allowing just one goal in three games. Every Switzerland contest finished 1-0 (wins over Latvia and the Czechs, loss to Sweden.)

Latvia was one of two teams to go pointless in the preliminary stage — No. 12 Norway was the other — but the Latvians competed hard and were competitive in all three losses.

Who’s hot: Hiller was outstanding in shutout victories over Latvia and the Czechs, stopping a combined 47 shots. He’s given his team the confidence it can win games by scoring just once — as explained by Simon Bondenmann, who netted the lone goal against the Czech Republic.

“Jonas is giving us a chance to win every game,” Bondenmann said, per IIHF.com. “We’d be happy to score a couple more goals, but if we win like this, it doesn’t matter.”

Latvian goalie Edgars Masalskis has been equally good this tournament. The 33-year-old starred against Switzerland in the opener, making 38 saves before Simon Moser scored a fluke deflection goal with eight seconds left. Masalskis followed that up with a stellar 35-save effort against the Czechs, keeping the Latvians in it despite being outplayed (and out-shot, 39-20).

Tampa Bay farmhand Kristers Gudlevskis played the final group game against Sweden, but it’s likely head coach Ted Nolan goes back to Masalskis on Tuesday.

Who’s not: Switzerland’s two best NHL forwards, Nino Niederreiter and Damien Brunner, were being counted on to provide offense. Hasn’t happened. Neither has registered a point, though Niederreiter does have a team-high 10 shots on goal.

Ex-Sens forward Kaspars Daugavins has nearly 100 NHL games on his resume and is one of the leading scorers in the Swiss league this year, yet only has one point (an assist) for Latvia despite averaging over 18 minutes a night.

X-Factor: Switzerland’s razor-thin margin of error. The Swiss are the better team, have more talent and enter the favorites… but were also eight seconds away from going to OT with Latvia in the preliminary round. They just don’t have the offense to put opponents away and that could be an issue because, in single elimination games, an underdog becomes more dangerous the longer it sticks around.

Video: Senators make Penguins pay for penalties with 1-1 goal

2 Comments

The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Another big goal from Malkin; another confusing goalie interference review

7 Comments

The Ottawa Senators are ready for a fight in Game 6, which seemingly means that the Pittsburgh Penguins must grind for space and chances. So far, the Penguins are willing to do just that.

Being that this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it also means that you need to shrug off setbacks … and the Penguins are doing well in that area, too.

After a 0-0 first period, it seemed like Trevor Daley scored a “greasy” 1-0 goal, but after a review, it was dismissed because of goalie interference. The crowd’s silent, confused response mirrored many on social media who genuinely don’t know what is or is not interference any longer.

The Penguins could have sulked after that near-goal. Instead, they just kept chipping away. Evgeni Malkin finally broke the ice – for real – with a gritty 1-0 tally. You can watch that ugly-pretty effort in the video above this post’s headline.

This marks Malkin’s seventh goal and 24th point of the postseason. No one else has reached 20 yet.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Colin White makes Senators playoff debut, Penguins lineup the same

Getty
Leave a comment

The Stanley Cup Playoffs often feel like a battle of attrition, which only makes the introduction of fresh faces that much more compelling.

Try this on for size: with their playoff lives on the line, the Ottawa Senators will see the playoff debut of 2015 first-rounder* Colin White against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. It’s also just his third game at the NHL level, overall.

After rolling with seven defensemen in Game 5, Guy Boucher is opting for a traditional alignment of 12 forwards and six defensemen.

White has that high-level pedigree and possibly fresh legs – even just relatively speaking – so it’s not out of the question for the 20-year-old center to make an impact.

Check out the full roster report here (note: Pittsburgh’s going with the same group as Game 5). Scott Wilson is good to go for the Penguins.

* – 21st overall.

Boucher on Senators’ resiliency: ‘We’ve always chosen to fight’

3 Comments

It’s almost always intriguing to see how a team responds to a tough playoff loss, but that fascination spikes even more if said team fell by an especially lopsided score.

We’ve seen the Pittsburgh Penguins respond to some blowouts with big wins, but now the shoe is on the other foot; how will the Ottawa Senators rebound from the 7-0 shellacking they suffered in Game 5?

Well, if you ask Guy Boucher, they’ve developed a track record that shows they’re willing to fight with their backs against the wall.

Great stuff, right? It’s honestly too bad that Boucher’s defensive system isn’t always as entertaining as his quotes.

Speaking of how Game 5 feeds into tonight’s Game 6, the video above this post’s headline discusses how Ottawa’s goaltenders might be feeling heading into Tuesday.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6