The qualification round has been completed and each winner will play against one of the four teams that got a bye to the quarterfinals on Wednesday. Here are the matches and what channel you should tune in to:
Sweden versus Slovenia (3 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
Sweden was the only team to win all three of its preliminary round matches in regulation time. Even with key forwards Henrik Sedin, Johan Franzen, and Henrik Zetterberg sidelined, the Swedish team still has a superb offense and boasts one of the best goaltenders in the world in Henrik Lundqvist. For Slovenia, getting this far is a huge accomplishment after qualifying for the Olympics for the first time. Anze Kopitar is the team’s lone NHL player. (Watch it LIVE online.)
Finland versus Russia (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN)
Russia’s offense and power play were supposed to be the team’s main strengths going into this tournament, but that largely hasn’t been the case. After beating Slovenia in its opening match, Russia suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the United States and just barely got by Slovakia in another shootout. The Russians earned a 4-0 victory over the Norwegian team to advance to the quarterfinals, but that match didn’t serve to put the concerns about their offense to rest. Finland will be a big test for them after the Finnish cleanly defeated Austria and Norway before frustrating Canada in a 2-1 overtime loss. (Watch it LIVE online.)
Canada versus Latvia (12 p.m. ET, MSNBC)
Like Russia, Canada has had trouble capitalizing on its overflow of skilled forwards. The Canadians found it particularly difficult to score against a Finnish squad that managed to claim the middle of the ice for the better part of their match. They had anticipated another tough defensive opponent in Switzerland, but instead will face the more offensively-minded Latvian squad. Latvia earned a 3-1 win against Switzerland to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in the nation’s history. (Watch it LIVE online.)
U.S. versus Czech Republic (12 p.m. ET, USA)
The Czech Republic’s coaching staff has made some questionable roster and lineup decisions along the way, which likely contributed to the team’s underwhelming showing in the round robin phase. The Czechs goaltending is suspect too, which will make the United States a particularly daunting opponent. The Americans looked great in the preliminary round. They cleanly beat Slovenia and Slovakia and fought hard for a shootout victory against Russia. (Watch it LIVE online.)
Tonight, there’s a big Metropolitan Division showdown at Consol as the Pittsburgh Penguins host the New York Rangers. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET), or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:
Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’
‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds
Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week
Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley seems pretty chill about healthy-scratching Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau and Lance Bouma. That goes for Monahan and Gaudreau in particular, noting that they’re “great kids.”
Besides … it’s not like they robbed a bank. (NHL.com)
Uh oh, did Nazem Kadri make the throat-slashing gesture to Mark Giordano? See for yourself in the video above. (Puck Daddy)
What should the New York Islanders do with unrestricted free agent Kyle Okposo, who’s enjoying a productive contract year? (The Hockey News)
What a playoff berth would mean to the Florida Panthers. (Sportsnet)
Checking in with various teams as the trade deadline looms. (NHL Numbers)
On the Canucks using those Pavel Bure-era jerseys. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The Minnesota Wild put together the kind of effort that would beat a lot of NHL teams on Tuesday. Unfortunately for that beleaguered group, it wasn’t enough to edge the Dallas Stars.
Despite generating 40 shots on goal and generating 1-0 and 2-1 leads, the Wild lost to the Stars 4-3 in overtime. With that, they’ve lost six straight games.
(The view doesn’t get much prettier if you pull away a little further, either, as Minnesota’s only won once in the last month, going 1-9-2 in their last 12.)
Ultimately, the Stars’ big guns were too powerful. Tyler Seguin generated two assists and so did Jamie Benn, who set up John Klingberg‘s overtime game-winning goal.
Again, the effort sure seemed to be there for the Wild, even if they’re far beyond the point of accepting moral victories.
As frustrating as this must be, Minnesota’s not that far from a playoff spot. Still, it has to sting to see “Close, but not good enough” as a prevailing theme as of late.
The Boston Bruins welcomed Milan Lucic back on Tuesday. Maybe they shouldn’t have extended such a warm welcome to the Los Angeles Kings overall, however.
You won’t see many games as lopsided as this one, at least in 2015-16, as the Kings walloped the Bruins by a humbling score of 9-2.
Lucic wasn’t just there, either, as he scored a goal and an assist in his quite triumphant return to Boston.
Tuukka Rask had a short night in Boston’s net, yet it wasn’t as if Jonas Gustavsson enjoyed his time. It was a pretty sound beating by all accounts.
This dominant win is a heck of a way for the Kings to begin an imposing seven-game road trip, which continues against the New York Islanders on Thursday. The Bruins probably want to burn the tape on this one themselves, as they’re about to head on a six-game road trip.