The 2014 Opening Ceremonies have come and gone and the Sochi Winter Olympics are well underway. With Men’s Hockey ready to begin group play, the Flyers will see five players compete for five separate nations. Here is what we can expect from each:
Kimmo Timonen will be entering his final Olympics for Finland, unless he finds the fountain of youth that is.
Timonen is coming off a lower-body injury that caused him to miss the game against the San Jose Sharks in the latter half of the Flyers’ most recent road trip. However, he’s played just under twenty minutes in the teams final two games before the break.
Timonen is projected to be a first line defenseman for Finland, and a team leader from the blue-line. As long as his foot holds up, and causes him no trouble in Sochi, he should be one of the most important pieces for Finland.
Mark Streit is another veteran Flyer that will be heading to Sochi to represent Switzerland.
A player much like Timonen, Streit is projected to be in the top two defensive pairings for the Swiss. He will look to be a team leader for a team with some young talent at the blue-line.
He should see plenty of minutes on the ice, and more than likely be an integral part of their powerplay unit.
Andrej Meszaros will be the third defenseman representing the Flyers in Sochi.
The 28-year-old Slovakian will join an impressive blue-line for his third straight Olympics. He is projected to be in the second pairing for Slovakia, and should see good minutes.
Meszaros does have the opportunity to move up to the first pairing alongside Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara because of concussion issues with countryman Lubomir Visnovsky. However, the Slovakians are likely to pair a more offensive minded defenseman with Chara instead of having to larger, slower defensemen on the same line.
Winger Michael Raffl will make his Olympic debut for Austria in Sochi.
The Flyers’ rookie has been a revelation for Philadelphia after not earning a spot on the NHL roster at the beginning of the season. He has posted 16 points in 43 games for the Flyers while playing on alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek on the top line for awhile, but he was recently moved down to the fourth line to provide energy off the bench.
The Austrians compiled a roster filled with only three NHL players, Michael Grabner, Thomas Vanek and Raffl. The three could make up the top forward line for Austria, but if for some reason Raffl doesn’t play with the top line, he is certainly a lock for the top six.
Raffl is familiar with the larger rink that will be used in Sochi because he had played professionally in Austria and Sweden since 2005 before joining the Flyers’ roster. On a team with few recognizable names, Sochi could be a breaking out party for Raffl.
Jakub Voracek will also be making his Olympic debut on a deep Czech Republic team.
Voracek has been one of the Flyers’ top players over the last few seasons, and should be a top six forward for the Czech Republic.
He is the biggest name to head to Sochi for the Flyers, and has the best chance at success. If a few games go their way, it’s possible Voracek returns home with a medal.
Don’t expect Timonen, Streit or Raffl to come home with any hardware, but Meszaros and Voracek have an outside chance at standing on the podium.
My predictions are:
Gold – USA
Silver – Canada
Bronze - Czech Republic
You can find the complete men’s hockey schedule here: http://www.examiner.com/article/2014-olympic-men-s-hockey-schedule-nbc-to-live-broadcast-games
HartnellDown Tracker: Scott currently sits at 201 HartnellDowns heading into the Olympic break.