Sochi Preview: USA vs. Russia; Quick & Brown vs. Voynov (Feb.15/14; 7:30am PST)
Photo credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
While the image you see shows two goalies, there will only be one playing for the United States early Saturday morning - the same netminder who started the tournament opener against Slovakia. Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings gets the nod in consecutive games and he will have to be even sharper as, unlike their first game, the Americans should expect a much tighter game against the host Russians.
While fans of the US were certainly happy with their team's win on Thursday over Slovakia, the 7-1 score left many feeling bored halfway through the game. With all due respect to the Slovakians, Russia will prove to be a much tougher test, leaving the Americans and their fans tuned in right until the end.
While he didn't have to be, Jonathan Quick was solid in the American goal. Even his Los Angeles teammate Dustin Brown helped out with a goal, albeit when the US was already up by five goals. But as lopsided as Thursday's end result was, it was a collective effort that contributed to the win for the stars-and-stripes.
The Toronto Maple Leaf duo of Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk chipped in with the former scoring twice. Chicago's Patrick Kane also helped out as did Colorado's Kevin Shattenkirk. But this is a whole new test as the Russians will also hope to improve to 2-0-0 in the preliminary round.
It may not have been convincing as most would have expected but the Russians did beat Slovenia 5-2 on Thursday to get their tournament started on the right foot.
Despite their enormous expectations playing on home ice, Russia started slow the other morning even though they got two quick goals in the game's opening few minutes. But even though the Slovenes pushed them to the limit, the likes of Ovechkin, Malkin and Kovalchuk pulled away with a strong third period resulting in a 5-2 win.
Most of the matchups so far in this preliminary round haven't been the most exciting but you can't possibly say that about the rivalry that is the United States and Russia.
Whether speaking of hockey, basketball or even on the political stage, there has never been any love lost between these two nations - and Saturday should not be any different.
It's going to be a great contest. We'll see who finishes on top.
Enjoy the game!