The Hockey Story: Canada desperate to avoid 2nd Swiss miss

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. Oh no, it's the Swiss again.

Thursday is the fourth anniversary of Canada's epic 2-0 defeat at the hands of goalie Martin Gerber and Switzerland in Torino. The players are well aware of it, and aware that the goalie for this current Swiss team, Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks, is quite capable of a Gerber'ing. Canada needs to crash the net as well as the Americans did against the Swiss and never give this team a sniff of an upset in their preliminary game (7:30 p.m. EST; U.S. TV: CNBC, joined in progress at some point). Martin Brodeur gets the start for Canada.

2. USA sets its goals on goals.

Norway has become the broken ATM of the Olympic tournament: Kick it, and watch the riches flow freely. Canada grabbed eight goals from the Norwegians in the opener. The U.S. is seeking some serious offensive momentum heading into Sunday's showdown with the Canadians, and draw Norway on Thursday (3 p.m. EST; U.S. TV: USA). The most important task for the Americans: Get their top line of Patrick Kane, Paul Stastny and Zach Parise rolling. This team doesn't have a prayer at a medal without the few weapons it has firing.

3. Does Slovakia have anything left for Russia?

The Slovaks, who lost their opener to the Czech Republic, now turn around and face perhaps the tournament's most explosive team less than 24 hours later. Slovakia had an impressive third-period push, leaving the Czechs without a shot until three minutes left, but can that carry over to their game against Russia (midnight, EST; U.S. TV: CNBC, joined in progress whenever they get around to it)? Will Marian Gaborik's health hold up in back-to-back games? Does Jaroslav Halak get a second consecutive start in goal? Will the Slovaks have enough in the tank to play 60 minutes with Ovechkin and the boys?

4. Will the U.S. women go 60 again?

In their first game of the tournament, the U.S. women's hockey team dropped 61 shots on China. In Game 2, they managed 34 in an easy win over Russia. The women play Finland (5:30 p.m. EST; US TV: MSNBC), having peppered them with 59 shots the last time they played in an Olympic tuneup, winning 5-1. That was without leading scorer Hilary Knight; expect a wider margin Thursday.

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