There’s a chance the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea won’t feature NHL players, which means the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi may be the last time we see NHL players in the Games for a long time. If that is the case, this year’s tournament was a pretty good way to go out.
The tournament came to an end Sunday in Sochi with the Canadians winning their second gold medal in as many Olympic tournaments. The tournament seemed to end as quickly as it began, but there were quite a few memorable moments, players and performances that preceded the gold medal ceremony at Bolshoy Ice Dome. NESN.com’s Mike Cole and Nicholas Goss broke it all down in their Olympic tournament recap.
Check it out below.
Phil Kessel, USA: The big ice suited Kessel as well as any player in the entire tournament. He was able to showcase his speed and offensive abilities in the preliminary round and ended up tying for the tournament lead in points.
Mikael Granlund, Finland: There weren’t many, if any players who made more of a name for themselves than Granlund did. He was among the tournament leaders in points and showed that he could be a force in this tournament in coming years.
Jeff Carter, Canada: Carter’s five points were a high among Canadian forwards. He recorded a hat trick in the preliminary round, but his play especially early in the gold medal game really set the tone for the Canadians on their way to winning.
Teemu Selanne, Finland: In his last Olympics, Selanne led Finland in scoring with six points and his four goals ranked second among all players. His two goals in the semifinals against the United States helped Finland claim a second straight bronze medal.
Phil Kessel, USA: Kessel tied for the tournament scoring lead with eight points and his five goals led all players. He was a crucial part of an American offense that entered the playoff rounds as the highest-scoring team. He also had a hat trick against Slovenia, the first for the U.S. in Olympic play since 2002.
Jonathan Toews, Canada: He only tallied three points, but his only goal opened the scoring in the gold medal game. Toews consistently drew the assignment of shutting down the opponents’ top forwards and he stepped up to the challenge each time. Canada allowed only three goals the entire tournament and Toews’ defense played a large role in that success. He also won 56.7 percent of his faceoffs.
Drew Doughty, Canada: Doughty took his already impressive game to another level in Sochi. He was one of the Canadians’ most important players at both ends of the ice. He played a big part on a historically strong defensive team and chipped in with some important goals as well.
Erik Karlsson, Sweden: Karlsson’s game obviously translates to the international game and the big ice. He didn’t play shut-down defense or anything like that, but he had himself a very good offensive tournament and was a big weapon on a dangerous Swedish power play.
Drew Doughty, Canada: The L.A. Kings star tied for the goal scoring lead among defensemen (four goals) and scored the overtime winner for Canada against Finland in the preliminary round. He also led the team with six points and played exceptional defense.
Erik Karlsson, Sweden: The 23-year-old scored four goals and tied Phil Kessel for the tournament scoring lead with eight points. He also was the key part of the tournament’s top power play.
Carey Price, Canada: The Canadians made it relatively easy for Price, but he made the saves when he absolutely needed to. His toe save on Zach Parise in the Canadians’ 1-0 win over Team USA may have been the most important save of the entire tournament. It’s also difficult to argue with two shutouts in the semifinals and gold medal game. There’s a good chance this one might have been a little different had Tuukka Rask started against Sweden, though.
Carey Price, Canada: In the biggest tournament of his life, Price was nearly flawless in helping Canada win gold. He consistently made clutch late-game saves and rarely made any mistakes. His back-to-back shutouts against the United States and Sweden in the semifinal and gold medal games, respectively, were nothing short of brilliant.
The entire USA-Russia game: When we look back at this tournament, we may remember it as being a little unspectacular. Canada pretty much steamrolled its way to gold basically dominating its two most important games. However, we may also look back on this tournament and remember the USA-Russia class in the prelim round. There’s obviously plenty of history between the two nations, and that was just such a good game from start to finish — and you can’t get a better finish than that high-drama shootout.
T.J. Oshie’s Shootout Heroics: The highlight of the tournament was T.J. Oshie lifting the Americans to victory over Russia in the preliminary round with four goals in six shootout attempts against goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. It was a memorable ending to an all-time classic and made the St. Louis Blues winger a household name.
Russia: This was supposed to be Russia’s tournament, but the Russians fell victim to the incredible pressure they faced. Not only did the Russians fail to win gold, they couldn’t even advance past the semifinals. A team with that much talent and those types of expectations can’t be viewed as anything other than a disappointment.
Slovakia: The Slovaks were expected to contend for a medal in Sochi after losing in the bronze medal game four years ago in heartbreaking fashion. Instead of making a run toward the podium, Slovakia lost all three of its preliminary round games and scored only two goals while giving up 11.
Slovenia: The Slovenians came into their first Olympic tournament as heavy underdogs. Being competitive would have been a nice stepping stone, but Slovenia did even more than that. Led by Anze Kopitar, the Slovenians won two games, including an elimination round game to lay the foundation for future international success.
Latvia: The Latvians had only one NHL player (Zemgus Girgensons, Buffalo Sabres) on their roster but they advanced to the quarterfinals with spectacular defense and stellar goaltending from Kristers Gudlevskis. Latvia upset Switzerland 3-1 in the qualification round and almost defeated eventual gold medalists Canada in the quarterfinals before giving up the winning goal late in the third period. The future is bright for Latvia.
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