The Hockey Story sets the scene and the storylines for the day's Olympic ice hockey action, in a handy and easy-to-follow numerical format.
1. Jaromir Jagr returns to North America
Finally, Jaromir Jagr has come back to North America. The former Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers star winger left for KHL millions in Russia two seasons ago, but leads the Czech Republic into what is, on paper, the first real marquee match of the hockey tournament against Slovakia (12 a.m. EST; US TV: CNBC). Both of these teams feature NHL standouts, including hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Marian Hossa of the Detroit Red Wings on Slovakia. Rangers star Marian Gaborik will reportedly miss this game, but check the lineup tonight anyway.
2. Kiprusoff gets what he deserves
Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff said he wouldn't play for Finland if he wasn't the starter. Well, he's playing on Wednesday as the starter against Belarus (3 p.m. EST; US TV: CNBC), with goalie Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild set to start against the Germans on Friday. After that, it's the Kipper show; let's see how he kicks things off against a pesky Belarus.
3. Canadian women get a test?
It could be a trap game for Canada — literally! (Thanks, here all week.) Sweden is one of the most talented teams in the women's draw outside of North America, and the Canadians are wary about what defensive system they'll throw at them in today's prelim game (5:30 p.m. EST). Also: Sweden is a physical team, in a "Hayley Wickenheiser got so angry she ripped off a Swede's helmet" sort of way.
4. Greiss the Swedes?
The underdog hopes and dreams of the men's tournament's less-talented teams rest on the shoulder pads of its goaltenders. Jonas Hiller was run over by American forwards in yesterday's 3-1 loss by Switzerland. On Wednesday, it's San Jose Sharks backup keeper Thomas Greiss with a chance to make his mark in Germany's opener against defending gold medal winner Sweden (7:30 p.m. EST; U.S. TV: CNBC). He gave up five goals in his only previous Olympic appearance, but his international numbers are respectable. Germany probably has too little, and Sweden too much, for Greiss to shock the world, but it'll be worth a look.
5. The Sedins come home
The huge local story in that Sweden game is the return of Vancouver Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin to their home rink for the first time since Jan. 27, which was the last Canucks game at GM Place before their epic Olympic-influenced road trip. Daniel (34 points at home) and Henrik (49 points) have scored the majority of their points on the season at the arena. The reception the twins receive from local fans should be thunderous.
- Jaromir Jagr
- North America