There has been a lot of talk about how the Olympics could slow down teams and players that were on hot streaks leading up to Sochi. However, we also must consider that the opposite could turn out to be true as well. Players that were struggling during the first four months of the NHL season may be able to catch fire playing with their respective countries and translate that into a strong finish when they return to North America.
One such player to keep an eye on is Patrik Berglund. The St. Louis Blues forward had just eight goals this season and suffered through a stretch earlier in the year where he had one goal in 29 games and went to the break goalless in 14 straight. In the first game of the tournament he grabbed a goal and a pair of shots against the Czech Republic, so that's a good sign. He followed that up with another assist and three shots in the next contest. Granted, these rosters are filled with talent players aren't normally accustomed to playing with, but if some of the momentum can at least carry over then that's a good thing.
Staying with that same game, Alexander Salak came on in relief for the Czech's and looked sharp making 14 stops on 15 shots against the Swedes. I thought Salak may have had a shot at cracking the Blackhawks' organization at one point but any hope of that came to an end after his release and the signing of Corey Crawford to a lucrative long-term deal. It's an interesting move for Chicago who are right up against the salary cap, considering they weren't confident in giving Antti Niemi a big deal when he was in a similar situation to Crawford. Goaltending seemed to be an area the team wasn't willing to spend on in order to retain some of their high-priced skaters. We'll see if it hurts them down the line.
It's good to see Canada use P.K. Subban in their second game. For all the talk about the bigger ice surface, the blue line is actually closer to the net than it is in an NHL game due to the cage being moved out to create extra space behind the goal line. This means someone like Subban with a strong point shot becomes all the more valuable. Even if Canada just using him as a power play specialist in man advantage situations, it's smart to keep Subban in the lineup.
Jaromir Jagr has two goals in the Czech's first two games and produced a few of the greatest quotes you will ever see after the team's victory over Latvia, via Pro Hockey Talk.
When asked if he will score in every game at the Olympics.
"Yeah, probably," Jagr told Sportsnet's ChrisJohnston.
Jagr turns 42 today.
"I don't get old, man," Jagr said, per the Olympic News Service. "I don't know why."
Jagr on the pressure of the Olympics.
"We are from the Czech Republic, we are always loose man," Jagr said. "No pressure."
I hope that guy never retires.
Henrik Zetterberg is done for the Olympics with a herniated disc in his back, likely destroying my chances ofme winning an Olympic Hockey Pool in the process. Zetterberg's absence certainly hurts the Swedes, but as Laidlaw mentioned yesterday it likely hurts the Red Wing