Sunday Open Thread – Round Robin Reflection

Well gang, the first four days of the Olympic men’s hockey tournament are (more or less) complete and all 18 round robin games will be in the books likely by the time you’re reading this. (If not, go watch the last one!) As we mull over the results and pour over the schedule for the qualification games on Tuesday and the quarterfinal games on Wednesday and conspire to develop sudden illnesses at work just before Canada’s next game, let’s reflect on the past few days of really good hockey. What really surprised you? Did anybody really impress or disappoint?

Sound off in the comments. My thoughts are after the jump.

I was a bit shocked at how bad Slovakia was. They won zero games, despite having several NHLers – including the Man Mountain named Zdeno Chara. And after their strong game against Canada, I thought Norway would at least win a game – against Austria – but the other club’s stock of NHLers likely tilted the balance. Slovenia playing so well during their first Olympics ever is absolutely massive for both that country’s hockey morale and their international ranking coming out of Sochi.

And I think everybody had Sweden coming out on top of Group C, but some might be surprised that the Swiss are second ahead of the Czech Republic. I’ve been a fan of the Swiss national team for awhile, but even I was shocked at how even-keeled all their games were. Even in their loss against Sweden, the Swiss kept their heads above water and allowed just a single goal – to the high-powered Swedes – during the round robin.

In terms of Flames at the Olympics, Switzerland G Reto Berra made 30 saves in his one start – against Sweden – that also represented his team’s only loss. One goal against isn’t bad, but it was a bit of a heart-breaker. Berra dressed for all three games. Ladislav Smid also dressed for all three games and actually saw action in two of them for the Czech Republic. He averaged 12:30 in ice-time, had 4 shots, a minor penalty and a minus-one rating.

The Swiss will get Latvia on Tuesday and the Czechs will play Slovakia. We’ll have a full schedule and medal round preview tomorrow.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    The bizarro world moves by the Czech before the tournament started (with respect to payer selection went) look like a precursor to the eventual result for the team. All due respect to the Swiss who looked shocking good, the Czech’s should have been better.

    The Swiss on the other hand, were good in all positions. Not great, just good.

  • BurningSensation

    The Swiss are good enough to legitimately medal in this tournament.

    The teams you always need to be afraid of are those who play ‘trap’ hockey in front of an elite netminder.

    A discilplined team that reliably chokes up the neutral zone can win if they get a fluke bounce, cheap powerplay tally, or even just a straight up mistake by d-man or goatender on the other team.

    It’s the Gracie Ju-Jitsu of hockey. Slow, boring, crushingly effecient.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    some might be surprised that the Swiss are second ahead of the Czech Republic

    Not me. The Czechs haven’t been a threat in international play–even when they get their player selections right, which they didn’t–for years, and Switzerland gets better with every single game they play. They got bronze at the Worlds last year.

  • beloch

    The swiss are outmatched offensively and just in general talentwise, but they play a defensive system that stifles opponents, play short shifts, and are extremely disciplined. They also work bloody hard and have gotten great tending from Hiller especially. I think they’re just too outmatched to medal, but are definitely a dark horse for the Bronze medal match. I’m cheering for them because it almost feels like cheering for the Flames!

    P.S. GOALLLLL! Canada wins!

  • beloch

    Great, now Canada gets a potential match-up with the Swiss.

    Sweden plays winner of Slovenia/Austria

    US plays winner of Czech/Slovakia

    Canada plays winner of Swiss/Latvia

    Finland plays winner of Russia/Norway

    Meaning if we win possible Canada/US semi-final and Canada/Russia final.

      • prendrefeu

        Does anyone know if either of those countries turns the matchup into a political hype machine?

        Being in the US it seems that too often a match between the US and name-your-country-the-US-isn’t-bossing-around is hyped up by both commentators, broadcasting co, and the national news outlets as being a ‘political’ matchup with lots of ‘tension’ and history blah blah blah…
        This might be a US thing only, which wouldn’t be surprising.

        But I must ask: is either Russia or Finland hyping up the history as a talking point premise to the actual match? Have we seen any quotes from Putin being translated into “yeah, it’s about time we dominate them again! They can’t claim our ice this time” and the Finnish politicians being quoted as saying “we may not have the power of mass, but we will out skill and out class them, again, and again, and again, until they get the message for good”

        ?

  • beloch

    I thought today’s game was Canada’s toughest test. The Finns hang around in tight games and then seized the opportunity when Ruutu scored. Rask was pretty solid and so was Price. Drew Doughty has been an absolute beast this tournament.. the forwards Carter notwithstanding really need to get going. Canada has had a ton of great chances but now they have to bury them. The defense has been carrying the load offensively. Crosby and co. will have to elevate to an elite level in a hurry.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Exciting game today for those cheering for Canada but the “rope-a-dope” style of hockey teams are playing against Canada, while effective, is not terribly entertaining. When one team (Canada) spends the entire game in the Finnish end and the Finns continue to collapse around their net, it’s about the farthest thing from end to end hockey you could want. And for those of you who continue to knock the NHL and the North American game, tell me the Olympic games you’ve watched so far (with the exception of the US/Russia) match a good best of seven series in the NHL.

  • beloch

    I’ve watched bits and pieces of the tournament so far and to be truthful the best game was the Russia/USA affair. The bits of the games I have seen by team Canada has me somewhat worried. Sid does not seem to have chemistry with anyone and he is the leader. The other lines seem more in sync and against the round robin teams that is fine but this will need to change against the top teams. Hopefully it does.

  • I had much higher expectations for the quality of the hockey overall. With the exception of the USA vs Russia game what I have watched has been rather forgettable on most levels.

    Perhaps now that losses mean elimination we shall see a better quality of play. I certainly hope so.

    Highlight of todays broadcasting…. the broken Healey Mic…. big winner there… huge!!!

  • beloch

    I’m not worried about Team Canada. So far they’ve outshot their opposition 38-20 (Norway), 46-23 (Austria), and 27-15 (Finland). They’re outshooting their opponents by nearly 2:1 every game. The only others teams who have come close to doing that are Russia and… Finland.

    Now, we all know that the better team frequently loses hockey games. There is definitely a big element of chance in the game and the olympic tournament structure of just one game per match means chance will play a large role in who gets the shinies. Canada is not a lock to win gold, but they’re playing well and have excellent odds. That’s all we can really ask for.

    P.S. I really hate shoot-outs. It takes a lot more than 3 or even 6 rounds to remove random chance as the overwhelmingly dominant deciding factor. That the finals can be decided by what’s basically a coin-toss is actually pretty lame.

  • beloch

    I’ll call it now, Canada barely gets by the swiss, then loses convincingly to the usa and gets 4th after losing to Sweden. Russia takes out the usa in the gold medal game.

    • Mullen Mania

      Haven’t you heard, all Burke ever does is trade for goons and size.. at least that’s what they say on this site. He wouldn’t be interested in a guy like kessel or jvr

  • beloch

    Now that I’ve seen the bracket, too bad for the Swiss. Even if they might have had a shot at Bronze, they’ve got to go through Canada to do it, so F ’em!

    In the best of possible outcomes, we will be treated to a U.S.-Canada semi-final followed up by a Russia-Canada final. How awesome would that be?

  • beloch

    Heat lose 5-4 in ot. Seems like the best line in Abby right now is Granlund, Rhino and BJones. A line that combines skill, a solid work ethic in all three zones with a level of toughness. Hopefully that will be the model for the Flames going forward.

  • beloch

    So I’m sitting here bored and thought I would put together some lines for next years Flames that I would like to see at training camp and maybe into the season. Not all of my wingers may be on the correct wing as I can’t seem to find out where a couple of people play exactly.

    LW Center RW
    Johny g Backs+ Bouma
    Hudler+ Monahan Colborne
    Sven Stajan+ DJones+
    Glenx+ Granlund Rhino/Mcg+
    Poirier Knight Hankowski
    Ferland Arnold BJones/Byron
    TJG+ Jooris Agostino

    I’ve tried to combine skill guys with sound two way guys and some guys with size. I’ve also tried to make sure that most lines had some NHL veterans on them (+) or guys who have had a number of years in the AHL and some time being NHL replacements. These are guys who I think will ultimately be in the organization next year. I left Klimchuk off as I think he will be in CHL next year. So trash away if you like but I would really prefer to see other peoples combos.

    • Mullen Mania

      OK, I’ll play as I did something similar the other night. My caveat being I expect some additional player movement over the coming months, but based on current rosters and prospects these are the lines I came up with:

      Flames

      Hudler – Backlund – D. Jones
      Glencross – Stajan – Reinhart
      Baertschi – Monohan – Colborne
      Bouma – Byron – McGrattan

      Giordano – Brodie
      Butler – Wideman
      Smid – Russel

      Ramo
      Berra

      Heat

      Gaudreau – Granlund – Poirier
      Agostino – Knight – Ferland
      B. Jones/Street – Arnold – Hanowski
      MacDermid – Jooris – Elson

      Billins – Smith
      Wotherspoon – Sieloff
      Cundari – Ramage

      Ortio
      Olivier

      Further consideration is needed on the following issues:

      I have included 7 UFAs (2 on the Flames and 5 on the Heat) and do not expect all will be resigned.

      I am not sure how all the AHL contracts may slot in or impact the Heat line up (i.e Bancks, Olsen, Arsene). Possibly could fill spots where UFAs are not resigned.

      I could see Elson staying in the Alaska to make room for another vet.

      I am assuming Cammy and Stemps are traded at the deadline, but for what? I have not included anything coming back.

      I assume O’Brien moves on.

      I could also see Kulak and/or Culkin getting contracts and replacing one or both of the UFAs on the Heat (Cundari and Smith).

    • Bean-counting cowboy

      My dream pipe line-up:

      Hudler/O’rielly/Callahan

      Glencross/Backlund/Stempniak

      Bouma/Monahan/Colborne

      Reinhart/Stajan/D. Jones

      Gio/Brodie

      Russell/Butler

      Smid/Wideman

      See, we trade our 1st round pick this year for O’rielly (no way Avs keep him) and back up the dump truck of cash to Callahan as UFA. This lets the kids develop properly in Abby like the Detroit model and gives a legitimate “top line”. Plus it fits in with Burke wanting to speed things up.

      Abby:

      Gaudreau/Granlund/B. Jones

      Baertschi/Knight/Poirer

      Agostino/Arnold/Hanowski

      Ferland/Street/Jooris

      Smith/Wotherspoon

      Billins/Sieloff

      Kulak/Ramage

        • Bean-counting cowboy

          Lol. No. Not Daryl. If ROR was 28 or above I could see this being an issue. He turned 23 ten days ago. I would see him as a piece for the future, not giving up our future.

          The 1st round pick would form part of the deal, not saying it would necessarily be 1 for 1. I wouldn’t do this at the trade deadline but more after the season and the lottery results to see where our 1st will end up being.

          ROR salary replaces Cammy’s and we still need to get to the cap floor. Callahan is a pipe dream but wouldn’t cost us any of the future as a UFA signing. He would just help us get above the floor. He is a character guy that will help the young guys learn how to play the pro game.

          I personally feel our prospect depth is coming along great. why not teach these young guys how to win by adding a couple guys like this?

          I used to think the scorched earth, then play the young guns approach to get high picks was the way to go. Not anymore. Don’t want to see an Edmonton here. I love having something to cheer for.

  • Mullen Mania

    Hey Mullen Mania and Bean Counting Cowboy: Thanks for playing. I suspect you are right that there will be some trades and some UFA’s sought out. I did not get into my final, what the flames or Abby will look like just how I would like to see the preseason look at this point. I think Granlund will play more games in Calgary than for the Heat next year. If we sign the right free agents or trade the right pieces this team could be back on track sooner than later. Again thanks for playing.

  • Mullen Mania

    I really don’t understand the irony that so many are worried about Canada subpar performance yet the ridiculous confidence that Russia is going to the gold medal game. Of the major teams, only Russia has under achieved more than Canada. I don’t think Russia will get past Sweden short of a significant upset, even if they do get past the Finnish. The US is also playing dramatically better than Canada is, though our defence is still making me smile. I worry about the likely meeting with them in the semis.