The quarterfinal round of the playoffs for men’s hockey event at the 2022 Winter Olympics concluded on Wednesday morning, with the matchups set for the semifinals on Thursday night and into Friday morning. Both Canada and the United States have been eliminated, but that still leaves four compelling teams.
Finland vs. Slovakia
Thursday 2/17 at 10:10 p.m.
Finland is likely the heavy favorite in this contest, roundly defeating Switzerland 5-1 in the quarterfinal, the largest goal deficit of the round. Slovakia got past the United States in a shootout and won just one game in group play, losing to Finland 6-2 on Feb. 10. They’ll look to be the underdog, though that may be a position they’re familiar with.
With former NHL players like Valterri Filppula, Markus Granlund, Sami Vatanen and Leo Komarov, the Finnish team is well rounded and has several players who have competed together in tournaments previously. Finland also has former Blackhawks prospect Ville Pokka, at one point the centerpiece of the Nick Leddy trade.
The Slovakian team is the only one remaining to have played in the qualification playoff round, as the other three teams made it in to the playoffs based on their preliminary round play. Tomas Jurco, the lone Blackhawks tie on the Slovakian team, had a goal and an assist in the preliminary games but failed to score against the United States in the quarterfinal.
Fantastic Finns dominate @SwissIceHockey and will face @HockeySlovakia in the semis. Game Story: https://t.co/4h5ihVUunl @leijonat pic.twitter.com/0JL8upwHka— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) February 16, 2022
ROC vs. Sweden
Friday 2/18 at 7:10 a.m.
The Russian Olympic Committee, which won gold in the 2018 contest without the NHL’s involvement, is looking to repeat their feat, while Sweden, which failed to get out of the quarterfinals in 2018, will look to put a halt to the Committee’s golden quest through team defense.
The ROC includes Artur Kayumov, who the Blackhawks drafted in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft, and Artem Anisimov, although Anisimov has yet to play a game in the Olympics and Kayumov did not play in the quarterfinal round. ROC beat Denmark 3-1 thanks to two point games from former NHLers Nikita Gusev and Vadim Shipachyov, as well as Arseni Gritsyuk. The team functions like a KHL All-Star team.
Meanwhile Sweden continues to focus on defense, defeating Canada 2-0, with goals from Anton Lander as well as former Blackhawk Lucas Wallmark. Other Blackhawks ties include Philip Holm, a Rockford IceHog in 2019-20, Marcus Kruger and Joakim Nordstrom. The Swedish team has a large group of former NHLers and are one of the more well-rounded teams in the tournament.
GOING FOR GOLD! @Trekronorse conquers @HockeyCanada and will join @russiahockey @leijonat and @HockeySlovakia in the #Beijing2022 semi-finals!#Olympics #icehockey #hockey #ishockey #Sweden #Sverige #Trekronor @SWEOlympic pic.twitter.com/2hk1OIBdnZ— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) February 16, 2022
Here are the start times for the semifinal games again (all times CT):
Finland vs. Slovakia | Thursday 2/17 at 10:10 p.m.
ROC vs. Sweden | Friday 2/18 at 7:10 a.m.
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