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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
By Steve Goldstein - FloridaPanthers.com / Sights From Sochi
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Sights From Sochi
Preliminary Match-up For The Ages

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.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Huberdeau 72 13 34 8 47
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
J. Jokinen 74 7 33 -1 40
J. Jagr 70 13 26 -3 39
B. Boyes 73 12 23 10 35
A. Ekblad 74 11 24 11 35
J. Hayes 65 18 13 -5 31
A. Barkov 64 14 17 -2 31
B. Campbell 75 3 21 2 24
B. Pirri 42 20 2 5 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 26 17 12 .921 2.33
A. Montoya 5 7 2 .888 3.08
 
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