The goaltending match-up is set for Saturday’s game between the United States and Russia.
Russia announced Sergei Bobrovsky would get the start against Team USA (7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN). That pits him against Jonathan Quick for the United States in what is shaping up to be the marquee game of the opening round of the Olympic tournament.
Semyon Varlamov earned a 5-2 win against Slovenia on Thursday for the Russians, but isn’t the clear top man in net. Bobrovsky, the 2013 Vezina Trophy winner, will have his opportunity to stake a claim on the starting job against the U.S. Should he play well, he’ll have a strong case built to stay in goal the rest of the way.
The last time Bobrovsky started a game for Russia was in the 2008 World Junior Championships.
When the United States faces Russia on Saturday (7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN), it’s shaping up to be the most-anticipated game of the opening round.
For the Americans, they know they’re not just going up against Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, and the rest of the team but also the crowd as they told Yahoo! Sports.
“Obviously this will be a lot like playing Canada in Vancouver with the hostile atmosphere,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said.
Team USA knows all about what that was like after facing Canada twice in 2010 in Vancouver. They’ll have to recreate some of that success they had if they want to send the Russian fans home disappointed.
“We’re going to play a Russian team that’s at home. They’ve got their home country cheering them on. They’re going to need no motivation for sure,” forward David Backes said. “[They have] a skill level on that team that’s probably the highest in this tournament so we’re going to have to work our butts off, do the little things, and play our blue collar hockey in order to win that game.”
Team USA has the lineup set for their opening match-up against Slovakia (7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN) and Derek Stepan, Justin Faulk, and Jimmy Howard won’t be on it.
Those three players will be scratched for the first game of the tournament. Blake Wheeler beat out Stepan as the extra forward and Brooks Orpik edged out Faulk on the blue line. As you heard earlier today, Jonathan Quick will start in goal and Ryan Miller will back him up.
As for the line combinations coach Dan Bylsma will use, here they are according to USA Hockey.
Zach Parise – David Backes – Ryan Callahan
Dustin Brown – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk – Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – T.J. Oshie
Ryan Suter – Paul Martin
Cam Fowler – John Carlson
Ryan McDonagh – Kevin Shattenkirk
Scratches: Derek Stepan, Justin Faulk, Jimmy Howard
If there’s anything Team USA Director of Player Personnel Brian Burke isn’t afraid to do, it’s saying what he believes.
Burke, when talking about what he expects from Team USA in Sochi says he expects nothing but the best. Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com shares the story.
“I know we’re at the point that if we enter any tournament wearing a USA jersey we expect to win,” said Burke. “I think that’s where our program is now. Whether we go in as a favorites doesn’t matter to me. All I care about, and all our players and management care about, is that we expect to win and we plan to do that.”
Burke pulled a page out of Surly of The Seven Duffs playbook saying he only cares about Team USA. Getting concerned about what other teams can do is a losing battle since that can’t be controlled.
After seeing the United States get to the gold medal game twice in the past three Olympics, however, those expectations of winning aren’t out of line.
The Nashville Predators have updated GM David Poile’s condition after he was struck in the face by a puck at team practice in St. Paul, MN yesterday.
The Preds say Poile underwent two surgical procedures to his eye and nose and received stitches for facial lacerations due to the errant puck.
Poile is also the GM of Team USA and having to make a stop at the hospital to get work done is putting a cramp in his schedule to get to Sochi.
The Preds say he won’t be traveling with the team to Russia on Sunday but will join them later on when he’s in better shape.