With the NHL on hiatus after Saturday night's action, players from around the league will be off to Sochi representing their respective countries in men's hockey. While the men's prelimininary round schedule kicks off on Wednesday, February 12, the four countries with Kings on their roster begins the next day.
On Thursday, February 13, the United States, Canada, Russia and Slovenia all begin their preliminary schedules with the latter two facing off against each other to start things off.
Thursday will mark the first time Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov will be opponents as the host Russians take on Slovenia. But it will be a very early rise for fans on the west coast as the game begins at 4:30am PST (7:30am EST). The good news, however, is that if those on the west coast have a couple of options. While they could watch Russia vs. Slovenia, most would likely go with the USA beginning their quest for gold against Slovakia, which also starts at 4:30am PST (7:30am EST). This will be everyone's first chance to see Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick don the red, white and blue as they hope to avenge their heartbreaking overtime loss in the gold medal game in 2010.
Slovakia is a country entering the tournament with a heavy heart as a few years earlier, they were hoping former King Pavol Demitra would suit up for his native country. Sadly, that wasn't to be as Demitra was killed with the rest of his Lokomotiv teammates in a plane crash back on September 7, 2011.
Of course, while they aren't considered to compete with the likes of USA, Canada and Russia, the Slovaks made plenty of noise four years in Vancouver when they just missed the podium finishing fourth, the best Olympic finish for the country in men's hockey.
As for Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter and the rest of Team Canada, they begin their preliminary schedule a little later in the day. At 9am PST (12pm EST), the Canadians will take on Norway which, on paper, should be a good start to the Games for the Canadians. Of course, as I always say, nothing is won on paper.
As for the rest of the preliminary round in regards to those countries represented by Kings players, the schedule is as follows:
Enjoy the games!
Saturday, February 15: Russia, 4:30am PST (7:30am EST)
Sunday, February 16: Slovenia, 4:30am PST (7:30am EST)
Friday, February 14: Austria, 9am PST (12pm EST)
Sunday, February 16: Finland, 9am PST (12pm EST)
Saturday, February 15: United States, 4:30am PST (7:30am EST)
Sunday, February 16: Slovakia, 4:30am PST (7:30am EST)
Saturday, February 15: Slovakia, 12am PST (3am EST)
Sunday, February 15: United States, 4:30am PST (7:30am EST)