Latvia Stands in Canada's Way of Berth in Semifinals

Tuesday, 02.18.2014 / 6:10 PM / News
By Brian Hunter | NHL.com

LATVIA vs. CANADA

When: Wednesday, Noon ET (MSNBC, CBC)

Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome

What's at stake: In the grand scheme of things, it's the same: This game is for the right to compete for a medal in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

In reality, it means something completely different to each of the two competing nations.

Canada was expected to be here and is expected to go on and defend the gold medal it won four years ago in Vancouver. Anything less will be seen as a huge disappointment.

Not much was expected from Latvia, which seemed on the way to fulfilling that prophecy by going 0-3 in group play. However, all three losses were tight games and Latvia finally broke through and stunned Switzerland 3-1 in a play-in game Tuesday. Another win 24 hours later as the heaviest of underdogs would be nothing short of this country's own Miracle on Ice.

Latvia: Edgars Masalskis stopped 38 of 39 shots against Switzerland in Latvia's Group C opener, but it wasn't enough because his teammates couldn't score a goal. Masalskis was just as good Tuesday, making 32 saves, and this time he got support in the first period from Oskars Bartulis and Lauris Darzins, whose goals built what turned out to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead.

This is the first time in five Olympic appearances Latvia has reached the quarterfinals. Anything more at this point is icing on the cake, which makes the Latvians dangerous, and while they'll be playing back-to-back while the Canadians come in rested, there should be plenty left in the tank for a game of this magnitude.

"One of the greatest hockey teams ever to play hockey," forward Kaspars Daugavins, who played in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins, told the IIHF website of the Canadians. "It's going to be really tough for us, but we're going to try to give them a hard time. You never know. Miracles have happened before."

Canada: Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who started the first and last game for Canada in group play, was named the starter by coach Mike Babcock. Price hasn't been tested much to this point, needing to make just 33 saves combined in wins against Norway and Finland, but each game had its stressful moments, particularly the 2-1 overtime triumph Sunday against the Finns which allowed Canada to place first in Group B.

"I'm actually just trying to do the same thing I do in Montreal," Price said about his mentality in net. "You're not getting as many shots, but whenever they're in the zone you just try and find that zone that you're in regularly as when you're facing 30, 35 shots."

Babcock's lineup juggling has been one of the biggest storylines to this point, as he tries to find the right fits around Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby and decide on a 13th forward and seventh defenseman. Babcock, from the Detroit Red Wings, will match wits in this game with another great hockey mind in Latvia's Ted Nolan, interim coach of the Buffalo Sabres. While popular opinion will be that Canada dodged a major bullet not having to face Switzerland in the quarterfinals, Babcock won't let his players overlook Latvia for a second.

What's next: It's the end of the line for the losing team, while the winner advances to the semifinals Friday to play either the United States or Czech Republic.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
8 x - DAL 82 40 31 11 235 228 91
9 PHX 82 37 30 15 216 231 89
10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 3 2 2 3 4
C. Perry 4 1 1 2 2
A. Cogliano 4 1 1 -4 2
M. Beleskey 1 1 1 1 2
M. Perreault 4 1 1 -1 2
P. Maroon 4 1 1 -1 2
F. Beauchemin 4 0 2 -2 2
B. Allen 4 1 0 -1 1
K. Palmieri 4 1 0 -2 1
T. Selanne 3 0 1 -1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Hiller 0 0 0 1.000 0.00
F. Andersen 2 2 0 .898 3.17
 

AnaheimDucks.com is the official Web site of the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim Ducks and AnaheimDucks.com are trademarks of Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club, LLC. NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 Anaheim Ducks Hockey Club, LLC and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Policy     Contact Us    Jobs     Honda Center    Corporate Partnerships   Terms of Use   Site Map AdChoices