Sights From Sochi

Panthers play-by-play man Steve Goldstein is in Sochi to cover his second straight Winter games for Westwood One radio. And while he's there, he'll be blogging on his experiences and his thoughts on the hockey tournament and the the Winter Games in general. Only seen on floridapanthers.com, enjoy as Steve brings you closer to the action (unless you're actually in Sochi and at the games that is).

 

Preliminary Match-up For The Ages

USA and Russia battle in Group A in post-Valentine's Day meeting.
Friday, 02.14.2014 / 12:00 PM ET
By Steve Goldstein - FloridaPanthers.com / Sights From Sochi
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Sights From Sochi

It's the one that everybody has been waiting for ever since the Olympic schedule was released: a post Valentine's Day match-up for the ages...USA vs Russia (7:30am ET on NBCSN). 

It is rumored that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in attendance come Saturday as this game carries heavier weight than just a preliminary round hockey game. The history of the relationship between these two countries is well documented and the 1980 Miracle on Ice is still the greatest upset in sports history. 

As far as the game goes, it should be an emotionally charged Russian team. The US will need to be ready for that opening push by Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk and company. That will be key. If the young American defense, which played well in the first game in a 7-1 win over Slovakia on Thursday, can keep the Russian offensive stars under control early in the game, the US will then have the opportunity to show its full compliment of skills. Forwards Phil Kessel and Patrick Kane are having super NHL seasons and seem very confident on and off the ice. The bigger ice surface plays right into their hands. Kessel had a wry smile after the opening win over Slovakia when I asked him about the extra room to maneuver. The hard nosed style of David Backes and St Louis Blues teammate TJ Oshie was a factor against the Slovakians. Dustin Brown, the LA Kings captain, and NY Rangers captain Ryan Callahan like to throw the body too. This is a team that has great skill, is tough and has defensemen that can move the puck and skate well. The USA is the complete package as a team. Of course, goaltending is always important and it will be interesting to see how the goalies handle the big moment for both sides. 

I'm personally looking forward to calling this one. It's a part of hockey history. I know many American players are relishing the chance to wear the red, white and blue jerseys and take on the Russians on Russian ice. It will quite the spectacle here in Sochi.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 79 27 39 23 66
J. Jokinen 81 18 42 25 60
A. Barkov 66 28 31 18 59
J. Huberdeau 76 20 39 17 59
V. Trocheck 76 25 28 15 53
R. Smith 82 25 25 19 50
A. Ekblad 78 15 21 18 36
N. Bjugstad 67 15 19 -8 34
B. Campbell 82 6 25 31 31
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 35 19 6 .922 2.35
A. Montoya 12 7 3 .919 2.18

 
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