Chicago Blackhawks Olympians Move On, Set Up Exciting Semifinal

By Paul Chancey
Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

It seems as if Marian Hossa‘s two goals opened the floodgates for the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2014 Winter Olympic Hockey Tournament. There were a few surprises and some that weren’t, but in the end, the Gold Medal is all that matters. With the quarterfinals over, the semifinals begin, and with these two match-ups, it should be an exciting one.

Team Sweden struck first, dominating Slovenia with a 5-0 win. Johnny Oduya had an assist on the third goal of the game, scored by Loui Eriksson. Henrik Lundquvist made 19 saves in the game. Marcus Kruger was a +2 with a shot on goal, and Niklas Hjalmarsson was a +1 with two shots. However, they still did their defensive duties. They will face Finland in the semifinals. This one should be exciting, given that the two have one of the biggest rivalries in international hockey.

The United States also easily beat the Czech Republic for the first time in Olympic play since the Miracle on Ice year, with a 5-2 victory. The fourth line of Dustin Brown, David Backes and Ryan Callahan stepped up their play, contributing a few goals. Phil Kessel scored his fourth goal of the games, and Patrick Kane notched an assist. Michal Rozsival was silent, though. It’s also the first time the Americans will get a chance for a medal in an Olympic tournament outside of North America since the NHL started sending players to the Olympics. But it also sets up a match-up with a familiar foe.

Canada just barely survived a surprising Latvia team. The two were tied at one at the end of the second period. Said goal was scored by Patrick Sharp early in the first period. However, the rest of Canada’s offense was struggling to get the puck past Latvian goalie Kristers Gudlevski, who made a total of 55 saves. The one goal Gudlevski will want back would be Shea Weber’s power play goal after a bad tripping call. Jonathan Toews had an assist on the winning goal, and Duncan Keith had a relatively easy game.

However, now comes Canada’s true test. The Americans are riding in on a wave of confidence and will be fired up to avenge the devastating loss in 2010. They will look to come out firing on all cylinders and shut down the Canadian offense. Said offense has still not clicked, which in all likelihood, should be a factor, especially if Jonathan Quick plays better than he did in his Conn Smythe Trophy season. It’s very likely that John Tavares‘s leg injury could potentially be a big blow to Canada. Either way, it should be one of the best games in the tournament.

The Hockey Gods have blessed the fans, giving them two of the best rivalries in International Hockey in the semifinals. The Blackhawks Olympians have the holy privilege of taking part in these games. It should be intense, exciting and fun. Strap on your seat belts, everyone. This should be a heck of a ride!

Paul Chancey is a Chicago Blackhawks writer for Follow him on Twitter at @ChanceyPaul and add him to your network at Google+.

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