Two Nashville Predators play in the qualification playoffs Tuesday, when Switzerland faces Latvia for the second time in the Winter Olympics.
After failing to claim a top-four seed for the tournament (and automatic birth in the quarterfinals), Switzerland must participate in the qualification playoffs where a win would advance them to the round of eight.
As we mentioned yesterday, a second victory over Latvia would advance the Swiss to the quarterfinals and a matchup with Team Canada: a contest featuring all of the Predators currently playing in Sochi.
The sixth-seeded Swiss shouldn’t prematurely chalk up a victory over No. 11 Latvia, however, as the two teams’ previous battle couldn’t have played out much more evenly than it did.
Back on Wednesday, the Swiss used a goal by Predators forward Simon Moser with under 10 seconds left in regulation to defeat the Latvians. The game would represent the first of three-straight 1-0 contests for the Swiss, who have scored two goals and allowed one, during their three games in Sochi (winning two and losing one).
The Latvians are winless in the Olympics so far, although they did hold a 2-1 lead over top-seeded Sweden in their last game (before ultimately losing 5-3).
- Can Hiller Remain Perfect? Enjoying a fine season in the NHL as well, Anaheim Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller has been superb in Sochi–starting two games for Switzerland and allowing zero goals. The Ducks netminder has benefited from Team Switzerland’s active and skilled defensive corps, facing 47 shots in two games and stopping them all. In his two shutouts, Hiller has not faced a lot of pressure from the opposition, will he stay strong if the chances mount?
- Does Josi Find the Scoresheet? Predators defenseman Roman Josi has looked right at home on Team Switzerland’s first defensive pairing, but has not tallied a point at the Olympics yet. As red-hot as Josi was with the Predators prior to leaving for the Olympiad, the lack of “official” offensive production from the young blueliner is a bit surprising. As tight as all of the games in Sochi have been for the Swiss, a point of any type from Josi could be the difference in a rematch with Latvia.
- Can Latvia Win When it Really Matters? With all 12 of the teams in the men’s hockey tournament advancing to the playoff round regardless of their record (group play determined seeding and byes), the lack of wins for Latvia hasn’t really affected them too much until now. In a single elimination format, anything is possible, and a fortuitous bounce here and there can quickly make up for the Latvians’ lack of NHL talent on their roster. If the Latvians can solve Hiller early in the contest, the Swiss may be unprepared to play catchup (something they haven’t done much in Sochi).
Rounding out the rest of the qualification playoffs on Tuesday: Slovenia faces Austria, Russia plays Norway, and the Czech Republic takes on Slovakia.