Zambonis swiftly propel over lightly-tinted snow, refurbishing the glorious ice surface generated for a game where anything can happen, from hugs to blood and miracles to fights.
Sochi, a city in Russia located on the Black Sea, hosts the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics. The 2014 Olympics starts in one month, on Feb. 7 and runs until Feb. 23.
The Olympics include countless ice and snow-related sports from alpine skiing and figure skating to curling and – most importantly – ice hockey. The venues where the hockey games are to be played include the Bolshoy Ice Dome and Shayba Arena.
As many of us get ready to rid watching professional hockey for two weeks, we are graced with the once-every-four-years opportunity to cheer on our respective countries playing in an array of sports. Hopefully for you, your country is one of the 12 teams participating in ice hockey.
The twelve countries involved are located below and are placed into their groups for round-robin play.
Each country participating in men’s ice hockey in the games have finalized and submitted their roster Tuesday, the deadline, or prior. The official rosters determine many Boston Bruins players have been selected and will be competing for their home nation in the Olympics.
Standing massive without skates on, 6-foot-9 and 255-pound Zdeno Chara gears up to lead his country’s national ice hockey team, Slovakia. At the age of 36, Chara takes a role as captain for the men’s hockey team in the Olympics. With roughly four weeks left until the start of the Olympics, Team Slovakia hopes Chara is fully healthy and is conditioning himself for February. In Vancouver, Chara was extremely successful and helped for his team’s outcome, assisting on three goals in the seven games Team Slovakia appeared in.
United States. Just kidding, unfortunately no Bruin will be representing the country in Sochi.
Russia and Slovenia do not have Bruins players competing for them as well.
Solid between the pipes, Tuukka Rask, unsurprisingly, will be in net for Finland’s men’s national ice hockey team. Rask has become impeccable for the Bruins in the past two seasons, including the 2013 playoffs. The goaltending will be fierce and fearless for Team Finland. Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars and Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks compete for playing time against Rask in the upcoming games. All three goalies did not participate in the 2010 Olympics. Inexperience at this level of competition may become noticeable in the games. Nevertheless, Rask’s NHL experience will nudge him to overcome any nerves and participate at his best ability – which could lead Team Finland to a medal game. Currently, in the NHL, Rask has the third-highest save percentage (.934) and fifth-highest goals against average (1.96).
Scrappy, quick, and finesse describe assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, who joins game-winning goal-scorer of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Sidney Crosby, and the men’s national ice hockey team of Canada for 2014.
This is the second Olympics he has been selected to compete in. Bergeron appeared in all seven games played by Canada for the 2010 Olympics, including the Gold-medal game which they won. He assisted for one goal during the Olympics. Heading into the Olympics, Bergeron currently has the second best +/- on the Bruins (17), and has 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points. In the past five games, he has been involved in at least one goal per game. In the games, he will be more experienced and have a stronger presence on the ice, leading to more goals and overall points for Team Canada.
Norway and Austria do not have Bruins players competing for them.
Point-leader (36) for the Bruins, David Krejci joins the Czech Republic’s men’s national ice hockey team for 2014. Unsurprisingly, Krejci was extremely successful when he competed in the 2010 Olympics. In five games, he scored two goals while collecting one assist. Team Czech Republic will be looking towards Krejci to create goal-scoring opportunities in Sochi. It is evident he is more than capable of doing this as he has assisted for 27 Bruin goals so far this season. His number of assists is the 13th-highest in the entire NHL.
One of seven players included in the Boston-Dallas “blockbuster” trade of the summer, Loui Eriksson joins his country’s national ice hockey team, Sweden. Although Eriksson has not played a game for the Bruins since Dec. 7, due to an injury against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Team Sweden management believes he will be healthy and ready for competition when February rolls around. If I was Sweden management, I, too, would include Eriksson on the roster no-matter-what. In the 2010 Olympics, Team Sweden appeared in four games; which Eriksson played in, scoring three goals and assisting on one goal.
Switzerland and Latvia do not have Bruins players competing for them.
The Opening Ceremony for the XXII Olympic Winter Games 2014 starts on Friday, Feb. 7. Women’s preliminary ice hockey games begin the following day on Feb.8, while the men do not start preliminary games until Wednesday, Feb. 12. Zdeno Chara and Team Slovakia face off against Loui Eriksson and Team Sweden, while Team Latvia plays Team Switzerland to commence the men’s ice hockey competition. Both games are scheduled to start at 9:00p.m. (MSK) at different venues.