How are the Red Wings doing at the Olympics?

Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, and Pavel Datsyul have had disparate experiences in Sochi at the Winter Olympic Games.

Henrik Zetterberg, Jimmy Howard, and Pavel Datsyuk have had disparate experiences in Sochi at the Winter Olympic Games.

Every four years in February, hockey fans find themselves becoming increasingly patriotic. When the Olympics roll around, fans find themselves throwing their NHL allegiances to the wind and cheering for their country over league loyalties. It has to be pretty tough, for fans from cities like Detroit and Los Angeles, who have huge contingencies playing for foreign countries and almost no American representation. Now that we have gotten through Olympic group play and quarterfinals, let’s take a look at the production of the Red Wings that were chosen to go to Sochi and represent their respective countries.

Team Russia:
Pavel Datsyuk was the only Red Wing featured on the Russian squad, one which was represented by way too many KHL selections along the blue line which would ultimately be their downfall.

Datysuk came into the tournament nursing an injury but he put the entire country of Russia on his back and fought until the very end, even though it appears some of the Russian management gave up on the NHL players and started favoring their KHL players, almost to send a message to the NHL that they are not an inferior league. Well they were wrong.

Pavel scored both regulation goals for the Russian side in their tightly contested match with US, and then took his skills into the shootout where he scored on one of his three attempts on Jonathan Quick. This was a game the Russians should have probably won, had it not been for Quick’s little bit of gamesmanship where he knocked the goalpost off it’s mooring which cancelled out a would be go-ahead goal for the Russians late in the 3rd period.

Finland crushed the entire morale of the Russian fan base by eliminating them in the first game of the medal round by a score of 3-1. Pavel was absolutely devastated, when asked how he felt after the defeat and he responded by saying “Inside I am absolutely empty.” You cannot help but feel bad for Datsyuk as he risked his health by playing on one leg to bring his country a gold medal on home soil as they hosted their first Winter Olympics.

On the other hand, Pavel will return to Detroit within the next week seeming to be as healthy as he has been almost all season. And judging by his play in Sochi, the Red Wings look to have one of their best playmakers back in the lineup.

Team Slovakia:
The Slovaks iced a team many thought could be a darkhorse in this year’s Olympics with the likes of giant defenseman Zdeno Chara and former Detroit Red Wings Marian Hossa. Slovakia was placed in a relatively difficult Group A that involved the likes of Russia, the United States, and the Cinderella of the Olympics, Slovenia. Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco of the Detroit Red Wings were invited to the national team and they were pretty much the only bright spots of the tournament for the Slovaks who only managed one point in their three group games by taking Russia to overtime in an eventual loss. Tatar scored the one goal for Slovakia against the United States which actually drew the game even at one, and had many viewers thinking the game could be competitive.

Then the United States scored six straight and blew them out of the water.

Not to be outdone, Jurco scored the lone goal for Slovakia against Slovenia in the next game, but were surprisingly beat by a Slovenian team that features one NHL’er. This was a very underwhelming Olympics for the Slovakians to say the least.

Team Sweden:
The Swedes entered the tournament as one of the gold medal favorites, and they are still hanging in their as they have their semifinal matchup against hated Scandinavian rival, Finland, on Friday. They have staved off defeat through each of their match ups thus far and have done this with a largely injury depleted lineup that includes the pre-tournament loss of Johan Franzen. The most concerning injury for all Wings fans is obviously that of captain Henrik Zetterberg who re-aggravated a herniated disc in his back that he has been dealing with all season. Hank was featured prominently in the Swedes opener against the Czechs getting 18 minutes of ice time and potting a goal for his side in a 4-2 victory. Zetterberg’s injury is very concerning for the Wings as the Swedish team doctor said he will probably miss the rest of the NHL season as well as the Olympics. Ken Holland released a statement saying that Henrik, “is in a great deal of discomfort, so in fairness to Sweden, the Detroit Red Wings organization and himself, he is pulling out of the Olympics. He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break. Beyond that, I have no real time frame.” If Hank needs surgery, it is safe to say he will miss the remainder of the NHL season and most likely the playoffs as well.

After his injury, Niklas Kronwall was named Swedish captain and he has been holding the blue line expertly for the side as he is showing his versatility on the big Olympic ice. Kronner has thus far picked up two assist through four games for the Swedes and received an average ice time of 20 minutes.

Gustav Nyquist, who was called up in place of Johan Franzen, has not had an overwhelmingly great tournament but he has not looked uncomfortable on the big stage which can only bode well for the Wings when he returns to the NHL.

Daniel Alfredsson is easily the Red Wing who is shining the brightest at these Olympics. Alfie has two goals and two assists to his name. His shining moment came with seven minutes left against the Swiss, when he scored the lone goal and Lundqvist shut the door for the Swedes in the opposing goal for the remainder of the game.

Team USA:
Jimmy Howard is the only Red Wing that was selected to represent the United States. Understandably, he has not seen any ice time throughout this entire tournament with the likes of Jonathan Quick and Michigan State Spartan, Ryan Miller in front of him on the depth chart. He has been a healthy scratch each of the four games which is troubling for Howie because if the United States are to win a medal, he would not receive one as you need to at least dress for one game to earn one. Seeing as the games are only getting more and more important, do not expect to see Dan Bylsma giving Howie the honor of riding the bench for the sole purpose of getting a medal. I am sure USA hockey would rather have a cold Ryan Miller being thrown in net in case of injury, than a cold Jimmy Howard.