Looking ahead: 2022 Winter Olympics Men’s Hockey Quarterfinals

A quick recap of the preliminary playoffs and a look ahead of at the quarterfinal match-ups.

The preliminary qualification playoff games for the men’s hockey portion of the 2022 Winter Olympics concluded early Tuesday morning, so now the matchups are all set for the quarterfinals that continue late Tuesday night and into Wednesday.

United States vs. Slovakia

Tuesday 2/15 at 10:10 p.m.

The United States’ earned a bye to the quarterfinals by being the top seed of Group A but they now face a determined Slovakia team that beat Germany 4-0 Tuesday morning.

The Slovakian team had a very slow start to their Olympics, being outscored 10-3 over its first two games, before finding their footing with a 5-2 win over Latvia. In their game against Germany, goaltender Patrick Rybar had a 21-save shutout against Germany. Tomas Jurco — who played in just 42 games with the Blackhawks — has a goal and an assist in his four preliminary games.

For the match between the United State and Slovkia, it might end up being a bit of a goalie battle, though it’s unknown exactly which goaltender will be the starter for the rest of the tournament. Blackhawks goalie prospect Drew Commesso has played in more of the preliminary games, but Strauss Mann started in the more important game against Canada. Whoever gets the nod, it should be a good showdown between the pipes.

ROC vs. Denmark

Wednesday 2/16 at 12:00 a.m.

Russian Olympic Committee is looking to repeat their gold medal campaign from the 2018 Olympics, and their first opponent on that quest is Denmark, which topped Latvia 3-2. This is Denmark’s first Olympic tournament, so they’ve already made history by getting this far.

The Denmark and Latvia game was fairly even with the teams trading goals during the first two periods, but Denmark scored two minutes into the third frame and goaltender Sebastian Dahm was a wall the rest of the period. That performance mean the Danes now have the second best save-percentage (.938) in the tournament.

The only Danish connection for the Blackhawks captain Peter Regain, but he’s been scoreless so far in the tournament. Artur Kayumov — technically still a Blackhawks prospect — and Artem Anisimov are both on the Russian roster, but the former has been scoreless and the latter hasn’t played a game yet since being quarantined with COVID-19 before the tournament began.

Finland vs. Switzerland

Wednesday 2/16 at 2:40 a.m.

After failing to win a single preliminary game, Switzerland stunned with a 4-2 win over the Czech Republic to advance to the quarterfinal round and will face Finland Wednesday. This is the first time the Czech Republic will miss the quarterfinals for the first time in the team’s history at the Olympics.

The Czechs opened the scoring against Switzerland, but then seemed to lose all control of the game as Switzerland poured on the shots. Veteran goaltender Leonardo Genoni was also excellent in net, but Switzerland just looked like a different team Tuesday night,

And for their efforts, they’re set to play Finland, arguably one of the most well-rounded and cohesive rosters in the tournament. Unlike many of the teams in this tournament, the Finns have several players who have competed together in international tournaments for years. The roster does include former Blackhawks defensive prospect Ville Pokka.

Sweden vs. Canada

Wednesday 2/16 at 7:30 a.m.

Sweden and Canada will meet for the first time at the Olympics since the two battled for gold in 2014. Sweden was given a bye to the quarterfinals thanks to being the fourth best overall team in the prelims while Canada defeated China 7-2 to move on in the tournament.

Canada is an interesting mix of former NHL players such as Eric Staal and Jason Demers as well as highly rated young players such as Owen Power and Mason McTavish, the first and third overall picks in the 2021 NHL Draft, respectively.

They face a more established, older roster from Sweden, including former Blackhawks Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom. Neither player has shown up on the score sheet yet, but Sweden is known for their defensive approach to winning, and both forwards suit that gameplay well.

Here are the start times for the quarterfinal games again (all times CT):

United States vs. Slovakia | Tuesday 2/15 at 10:10 p.m.

ROC vs. Denmark | Wednesday 2/16 at 12:00 a.m.

Finland vs. Switzerland | Wednesday 2/16 at 2:40 a.m.

Sweden vs. Canada | Wednesday 2/16 at 7:30 a.m.

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