The 2014 Winter Olympics may have put the Detroit Red Wings on hiatus until February 26th, but not my weeklies. There are still plenty of things to discuss and examine with ten Red Wings (and head coach Mike Babcock) over in Sochi, Russia representing their home nation.
Forewarning, it’s not going to be a normal weekly as the usually plus/minus report has been pushed aside to make room for the Red Wings top stories coming out from Russia. I’ve also added a three stars segment to praise the best performances from our Red Wings this week.
Hockeytown Headlines in Russia
Back to the Club vs. Country Debate
The major concern heading into the Sochi Olympics was keeping the Wings healthy, with everybody staring directly at Pavel Datsyuk. Well, it turns out the captain was the one we should have been worried about. Henrik Zetterberg’s was pulled out of Olympics with a herniated disk in his back and it’s very likely Hank won’t be ready to go when the NHL season gets underway again.
Let the club vs. country debate start up once more. There is no reason for me to express my stance on the “should NHL players play in the Olympics” debate again because I still stand by what I wrote in this article – Should Pavel Datsyuk play in the Olympics? Therefore, all I can hope for is that Zetterberg gets back to normal soon.
Pavel Datsyuk, aka the “Magic Man,” almost pulled a rabbit out of his hat. Playing one good leg, he single handily tried to take down Team USA on Saturday. For being “injured” he sure did look good. He split the American defense on his first goal, then snipped in his second goal on a power play, and finished the night off with a shootout goal. Where was this for the Red Wings in the last month?
I mockingly labeled this section “The Traitor” but it does makes you wonder. I’m going to chalk it up to timing because Datsyuk is such a likable guy. I don’t think he purposely skipped a few Red Wings games to stay fresh for his home Olympics.
How Swede It Is
Team Sweden, bolstering six of the ten Detroit Red Wings, swept their group in the preliminary round and claimed a direct spot in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. They were classified by many as the dark horse team of the tournament, but Sweden wasn’t as dominating as I thought they were going to be. They didn’t get any blowout wins and every game seemed to be a struggle. It will be interesting to see if this helps them or hurts them in the knockout phase.
Then there is the loss of Henrik Zetterberg. Could that ultimately be their downfall?
3rd Tomas Jurco (Slovakia)
A late goal in the 3rd period against Slovenia and a few tremendous defensive plays gets Tomas Jurco the third star. He is no longer the new kid on the block with just the slick moves. A case for this third star could be made for his Slovakian teammate Tomas Tatar, but Tatar’s goal was created on an offside play that wasn’t called. Either way, the youthful Red Wings’ duo has the only two goals scored by Slovakia in the tournament so far.
2nd Daniel Alfredsson (Sweden)
Somebody had to pick up the slack with Zetterberg out and Daniel Alfredsson was that guy. He has three points in three games with two goals, including the game winner against Switzerland. His and Erik Karlsson’s slap shot on the power play have proven to be extremely dangerous.
1st Pavel Datsyuk (Russia)
In the biggest game of the tournament so far Datsyuk delivered one of his greatest performances. What more can I say? Now, its fingers crossed that he stays healthy and keeps his current form when he returns to the Red Wings in a couple of weeks.
The upcoming schedule for the knockout round of the men’s hockey tournament has not been released yet. However, we do know already that Slovakia (Tatar and Jurco) and Russia (Datsyuk) have to play a qualification game on Tuesday. While the USA (Jimmy Howard) and Sweden (Alfredsson, Nyquist, Kronwall, Ericsson, and Gustavsson) get to head straight to the quarter-finals and will play Wednesday.
The semi-finals will be played Friday. The bronze medal game on Saturday and the gold medal game on Sunday.
Hopefully this time next week we will be celebrating a Red Wing winning the gold medal.
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