The first week of the Olympic hockey tournament has come to a close and we will now move on to the elimination round, starting with the qualifying phase played between the teams ranked 5 through 12. The games have certainly been entertaining and many Montreal Canadiens players have played pivotal roles on their squads.
Halak sensational in Slovak goal
Doubts about Halak’s ability to handle the pressure of the Olympic tournament
are quickly being erased. After a difficult 3-1 loss to the neighbouring Czech Republic, Halak was sensational in procuring a big shootout win for his team versus the Russians. The Slovak netminder then proceeded to conclude the preliminary round with a 21 save shutout against the pesky Latvians, giving him a 1.30 GAA and a .951 save percentage after three games.
Plekanec and Kostitsyn lead the way offensively
While Plekanec is certainly more of playmaker, as illustrated by his 43 assists with the Canadiens, he has fashioned himself into a sniper at these Olympics. Indeed, the Czech pivot has scored a goal in each game and is his team’s goal scoring leader with 3.
In the meantime, Sergei Kostitsyn finds himself amongst the tournament’s top scorers with 5 points. While he managed only an assist against Finland in his first two games, he closed out the opening round with a superlative performance versus Germany, collecting 1 goal and 3 assists en route to a 5-3 win.
Markov and Korneev defend their nation
Andrei Markov has been decent thus far, obtaining 2 assists and maintaining a +2 ratio while playing about 15 minutes per game. However, the Russians currently own the tournament’s 9th ranked powerplay, generating 2 goals and converting on only 12.5 of their chances. For a team with so much talent, such poor production is difficult to fathom. Markov, amongst others, will have to step up his play on the man advantage if the Russians are to have success in the quarterfinals.
As for Konstantin Korneev, who was recently profiled here on HabsWorld, he has had a largely quiet tournament up to present. He has maintained an even rating and has not recorded any points whilst averaging just over 14 minutes of ice time. Watching him play, you seldom notice him and, as the old cliché goes, that is usually a good thing for a defenseman. Having said that, he rarely seems to be on the ice for key situations, such as on special teams or late in periods.
Where is Weber?
Unlike Halak, Kostitsyn and Plekanec, Yannick Weber’s performance has been underwhelming. After finishing -2 after, taking 6 penalty minutes and obtaining no points in his first two games, the Swiss blueliner was essentially glued to his team’s bench for the entirety of their contest versus Norway, not even seeing ice during man-advantages. And, from all indications, injury was not preventing him from participating in the game. Rather, it seems that Ralph Kreuger was quite displeased with the young defender’s performance. Given that the first two games were versus the USA and Canada, Weber’s statistics certainly are not egregious. Perhaps the Swiss coach is displeased with his effort level?