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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).

 

Entering The Knockout Rounds

The United States won Group A by going undefeated and earned a bye to the quarterfinals.
Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 2:00 PM ET
By Steve Goldstein - FloridaPanthers.com / Sights From Sochi
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Sights From Sochi

For the second straight Olympics, Team USA has won its first three games, beating Slovakia 7-1 on Thursday, outlasting Russia in dramatic fashion with a 3-2 shootout win on Saturday and finishing it off on Sunday with a 5-1 win over Slovenia.

Here is Sochi, they've outscored their opponents 15-4 in those games. In Sunday's win over Slovenia, Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel was the star with a hat trick, the first two goals coming in the opening 4:33 of the game to set the tone. Any thought of a letdown after the dramatic shootout win against Russia was gone in a hurry. Sabres netminder Ryan Miller got the call in net and had his shutout spoiled by a Slovenian goal in the final minute.

It's now on to the qualification and then quarterfinal rounds, where the real pressure starts. The losers go home, winners of the quarterfinals go to the semis to play for a shot at gold. By winning its group, the USA has earned a bye into the quarters which allows the team two days off. They'll also be fresh, playing their opponent on the second of back-to-back days.

Everything here in Russia has been top notch. The accommodations, transportation, food and security has been as good as any of the other three Olympics I've been to. The best part for me though is that the hockey action now picks up in a big way, although even with medals on the line it will be tough to top the thrilling 8-round shootout between the US and Russia on Saturday as TJ Oshie and Jonathan Quick helped the US earn the extra point and the Group.

If there was an example of why the NHL should continue to send its players to the Olympics every four years, that game was it. The buzz created in America by that game was off the charts and many people who never watch hockey were watching and listening to that game.

Dramatic sporting events create fans. That game was as dramatic as they come. 

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 54 40 10 4 178 124 84
2 FLA 56 32 18 6 153 132 70
3 NYR 55 31 18 6 157 140 68
4 BOS 55 30 19 6 163 150 66
5 DET 55 28 18 9 138 134 65
6 TBL 54 30 20 4 144 130 64
7 NYI 54 29 19 6 153 137 64
8 PIT 54 28 19 7 139 136 63
9 NJD 56 28 21 7 124 124 63
10 CAR 56 25 21 10 137 146 60
11 PHI 54 24 20 10 128 140 58
12 MTL 56 27 25 4 151 151 58
13 OTT 57 25 26 6 159 177 56
14 CBJ 57 23 28 6 144 175 52
15 BUF 56 22 28 6 131 155 50
16 TOR 54 20 25 9 127 151 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 53 17 23 13 40
J. Huberdeau 56 11 29 10 40
J. Jokinen 56 11 27 12 38
V. Trocheck 56 17 18 2 35
A. Barkov 43 16 19 13 35
R. Smith 56 18 16 11 34
B. Pirri 52 11 13 -4 24
A. Ekblad 52 11 13 17 24
B. Campbell 56 5 18 20 23
N. Bjugstad 41 9 10 -5 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
R. Luongo 24 14 5 .924 2.29
A. Montoya 8 4 1 .926 2.06

 
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