Mike Finewax

Olympic Preview

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2010 Olympic Hockey Preview

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



GERMANY

Germany will not challenge for a medal, but they have shown a Rocky-like tenacity to remain in games against the big boys in competitions past and could cause an upset if they are taken too lightly. They have seven NHLers on the roster, but their highest-profile players are Boston's Marco Sturm and Nasvhville's Marcel Goc.

Roster:

Who you know:

Thomas Greiss backs up Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose, which means he plays very little. Christian Ehrhoff is a top notch defender with the Canucks. Dennis Seidenberg and Alexander Sulzer are both NHLers as well.Sven Butenschon played 140 NHL games, the last in the 2005-06 season with Vancouver. Up front, there is a triumvirate of NHLers in Marco Sturm, Jochen Hecht and Marcel Goc.

Who you may not know:

Dennis Endras: Endras plays for the Augsburger Panthers of the German Elite League where he owns a 3.31 GAA and .904 save percentage.

Dimitri Patzold: Patzold was drafted by the Sharks with the 107th selection in the 2001 entry draft. He spent years in the minors, but only saw 44 minutes of NHL time with the Sharks in 2007. He currently plays with Ingolstadt ERC of the German Elite League where he has a 3.23 GAA and .900 save percentage.

Michael Bakos: Bakos is a veteran of the German League, having played there since 1996. He is a defensive defenseman with one goal and six points in 40 games with Ingolstdt ERC this season.

Jakub Ficenec: Ficenec is another veteran defenseman of the German Elite League, like Bakos, but is more of an offensive defenseman with four goals and 22 points with Ingolstadt ERC this season.

Jason Holland: Holland is a Canadian with 81 NHL games on his resume with Buffalo and Los Angeles. After years in the North American minor league system, Holland relocated to Germany where he has one goal and 12 points in 47 games with DEG Metro Stars.

Korbinian Holzer: Holzer is a 22-year-old defender that was drafted with the 111th pick by the Maple Leafs in the 2006 entry draft. He has six goals and 20 points in 45 games with the DEG Metro Stars.

Chris Schmidt: Schimdt is another transplanted Canadian. He played four seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL before beginning his minor professional odyssey. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings with the 111th pick in 1994. He never made it the NHL, but now has one goal and five points in 45 games with the Mannheim Eagles of the German Elite League.

Alexander Barta: Barta is a five foot ten inch, 158 pound forward with the Hamburg Freezers of the German elite league where he has nine goals and 28 points in 34 games this season. He was never drafted by an NHL team.

Sven Felski: Felski has played with the Berlin Ice Polar Bears since 1994. The 35-year-old is still productive with 11 goals and 33 points in 43 games in the German elite league this season.

Thomas Greilinger: Greilinger is tied for the league in points in the German elite league with 31 goals and 61 points in 46 games played with Ingolstadt ERC. He was never drafted by an NHL team.

Manuel Klinge: Klinge is a five foot ten inch, forward that graduated from Germany's second tier to the Elite League two seasons ago. He has 16 goals and 30 points with the Kassel Huskies this season. He was never drafted by an NHL team.

Marcel Muller: The 21-year-old Muller has 20 goals and 47 points in 45 games with Kolner Haie of the German Elite League.

Travis James Mulock: Mulock is another transplanted Canadian. He played with the Vancouver Giants, Regina Pats and Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League before finding a spot in Germany. He has 17 goals and 38 points in 40 games with the Berlin Polar Bears of the German Elite League.

Andre Rankel: Rankel is a veteran of the German elite league with the Berline Polar Bears. He has 20 goals and 35 points in 45 games this year.

John Tripp: Tripp is a native of Kingston, Ontario who grew up playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals. He was actually drafted twice into the NHL. He went 77th overall to Colorado in 1995, but went unsigned and returned to the draft two years later, where he was taken with the 42nd pick by the Flames. He played 43 games in the NHL with Los Angeles and the Rangers before moving to Europe. He has 14 goals and 28 points in 44 games with the Hamburg Freezers of the German Elite League.

Michael Wolf: Wolf is among the league leaders in the German Elite League with 24 goals and 48 points in 44 games with the Iserlohn Roosters. He has spent his entire career in Germany and was never drafted by an NHL team.


Schedule:

Sweden - Feb. 17
Finland - Feb. 19
Belarus - Feb. 20

The Germans are unlikely to win their first two games again Sweden and Finland, so the February 20th game against Belarus should determine whether or not they are one of two third place teams to move on.

LATVIA

The Latvian roster will feature two NHL defensemen and two AHL forwards after placing 12th of 12 teams in 2006.

They are not expected to finish much better in the Men's Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver as they drew into a powerful pool that will put them against Russia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Roster

Who you know:

Dallas defender Karlis Skrastins and Flyers' rearguard Oskars Bartulis are the team's sole professionals. Skrastins is a veteran of 737 NHL contests and he will try to bring to stability to their back end, while Bartulis has appeared in 45 games for Philadelphia in his first year in the big leagues.

Lightning forward Martins Karsums is also on the roster. He has spent the entire year in Norfolk of the AHL this season.

Who you may not know:

Kaspars Daugavins: Ottawa Senators' prospect Daugavins has skated in one game this year, but he has spent the majority of 2009-10 in the minors. The 21-year-old has amassed 14 goals and 32 points in 47 contests with Binghamton.

Janis Sprukts: The 28-year-old center was selected 234th overall in the 2000 draft by Florida, but he has appeared in just 14 games for the Panthers which took place in 2006-07 and 2008-09. Sprukts currently plays in the KHL with Riga Dynamo where he has potted nine goals and 22 assists in 50 games. He is expected to be a key contributor to Latvia's offensive attack in the Olympics.

Lauris Darzins: Darzins has 27 points in 51 contests while playing for Riga Dynamo in the KHL as well. He was a ninth round pick by the Nashville Predators in 2003. Darzins is yet to crack into the NHL, but his potential for offense will be counted on by Team Latvia.

Herbert Vasiljevs: Vasiljevs is projected to be one of the leaders on Team Latvia. He has skated in 51 NHL games over his career with stops in Florida, Atlanta and Vancouver, but he has not been in the league since the 2001-02 season. The 33-year-old winger has spent the past six years in Germany, which has included five straight years with the Krefeld Penguins. Vasiljevs has accounted for 47 points in 43 contests this campaign.

Girts Ankipans: The 34-year-old forward has played in Belarus, Latvia and Germany before playing for Dynamo Riga the last two seasons in the KHL. He had seven goals and 14 points last season for Riga.

Armands Berzins: Berzins was drafted in the fifth round by Minnesota in the 2002 Entry Draft. He spent two seasons with Shawinigan of the QMJHL and two seasons in the ECHL before returning to Europe in 2006-07. He has two goals and four points in 22 games this season with Dynamo Riga of the KHL.

Martins Cipulis: The 29-year-old Cipulis has played all over Europe in his long career. He had nine goals and 21 points for Dynamo Riga of the KHL last season. He was also named the best forward in the Latvian League in the 2003-04 season.

Gints Mejia: Mejia is a 22-year-old forward who has two goals and three points over the last two seasons with Riga. Needless to say, he is not a top-six forward.

Aleksandrs Nizivijs: A member of the National team since 1999, the 33-year-old veteran had nine goals and 26 points for Dynamo Riga last season.

Lauris Darzins: Darzins was a ninth round pick in the 2002 Entry Draft by Nashville. He played a couple of seasons with Kelowna of the WHL, scoring 19 times and 34 points in his first season with seven goals and 14 points in 24 playoff games in 2005. He came back to Europe after his stint in junior hockey. He currently has 11 goals and 27 points for Dynamo Riga in the KHL.

Mikelis Redlihs: Redlihs has played the last two seasons with Dynamo Riga of the KHL. The 25-year-old has 16 goals and 28 points this season.

Aleksejs Sirokovs: A member of the Latvian National team since 2002, Sirokovs is currently playing for Amur Khabarovsk of the KHL. He has seven goals and 15 points in 45 games this season.

Guntis Galvins: The 24-year-old defenseman has a bit of a scoring touch with seven goals and 17 points for Dynamo Riga this season.

Rodrigo Lavins: Lavins was never drafted by an NHL team. The veteran defenseman has a goal and seven points this season.

Georgijs Pujacs: Pujacs was actually drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1999 Entry Draft, albeit in the ninth round, 264th overall. He played in the United League in 2004-05 with Elmira, before returning to Europe. The defenseman currently has a goal and 12 points with Sibir Nobosibirsk of the KHL.

Krisjanis Redlihs: Redlihs is the brother of Mikelis. Redlihs was drafted in the fifth round by New Jersey in the 2002 Entry Draft and spent four seasons with the Albany River Rats without getting a sniff of NHL action. Redlihs returned to Europe for the 2006-07 season and has spent the last two years with Dynamo Riga, scoring twice with seven assists this season.

Arvid Rekis: Rekis is in his second season with the Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams of the German League. The defenseman played four seasons with the Erie Otters of the OHL from 1996-2000 and also stayed in North America, playing in the ECHL and AHL until 2003. He was never drafted by an NHL team and has been playing in Germany ever since.

Kristaps Sotnieks: The 23-year-old defenseman has one goal and two assists in 91 KHL games. Do not expect much in the way of scoring in the Olympic Games.

Ervins Mustukovs: The Latvians are taking all three of their goaltenders from Dynamo Riga. Mustukovs played with Drummondville of the QMJHL in 2003-04 and stayed for a couple of seasons playing in the ECHL and SPHL before returning home. He will be the Latvians third goalkeeper.

Edgars Masalskis: The 29-year-old netminder will play for the Latvians as he is 16-12-5 this season with a 2.84 GAA and a .910 save percentage in the KHL.

Sergejs Naumovs: The 39-year-old netminder has been a member of the Latvian national team since 1993. He does not play much anymore so expect to see him mostly on the bench.


Schedule

Russia - Feb. 16
Czech Republic - Feb. 19
Slovakia - Feb. 20

The Latvians will be lucky if they win a game in their challenging pool and opening against pre-tournament favorite Russia will likely do nothing to give them much confidence. The Czechs and Slovaks have plenty of NHL talent as well, so even after the Russians it will not get an easier for Latvia. Their goaltenders will have to hold them into games as they will likely be outshot heavily in the tournament.

NORWAY

The Norwegians come into the Olympics as a bottom seed. They have only two players who have played in the NHL and currently none do so. Their only chance to win will come against Switzerland, and even that is a long shot. The tournament does not start off well as they play the home team in Canada.

Six members of the Norwegian squad play in the Norwegian Hockey League, with the remainder scattered throughout Europe. Ole-Kristian Tollefsen plays in North America.

Roster:

Who you know:

Well, you may know Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Patrick Thoresen, or you may not. Tollefsen currently plays for Grand Rapids of the AHL after he was traded from the Flyers to Detroit. Thoresen is in the KHL after two NHL seasons with Edmonton and Philadelphia.

Who you may not know:

Pal Grotnes: Has backstopped the Norwegian team the last four years, including making 50 saves in a 2-1 loss to Canada at the World Championships in 2008. He fell back slightly last season with a 2.95 GAA and a .906 save percentage in the Norwegian League.

Andre Lysenstoen: The huge (six foot, one inch, 247 pound) netminder plays for Heki in Finland. He started against Canada in the 2009 World Championships, but was pulled in a 5-1 loss after giving up four goals in 30 minutes.

Ruben Smith: Plays for Storhamar in the Norwegian League where he was the top netminder last season. He had a .922 save percentage and a 2.34 GAA in 2008/09. He could get the start against Canada on the 16th.

Alexander Bonsaken: The 23-year-old blueliner has only two assists this season for Modo of the Swedish Elite League. Do not look for a lot of scoring from the defensive defenseman.

Tommy Jakobsen: The 39-year-old is the only Norwegian who played the last time Norway qualified for the Olympics, when they got an automatic bid at Lillehammer in 1994. Jakobsen carried the flag for Norway at the opening ceremonies. Jakobsen returned to play in Norway this season after a decorated career in Germany and Austria. He will not get many points.

Juha Kaunismaki: Kaunismaki was born in Finland and has played in Norway since the 2003-04 season with Stavanger. The chippy defenseman has had 664 penalty minutes in the last five seasons in only 194 games. Not much of a scorer with only nine goals and 58 points.

Lars-Erik Lund: The 35-year-old defenseman has spent most of his career with Valrenga of the Norwegian League. His career almost ended when he was hit in the eye by a puck in 2008 but after ten hours of surgery, doctors managed to save it. The offensive rearguard has 12 goals and 30 points in 39 games this season.

Jonas Holos: The 23-year-old defenseman was a sixth round pick, 170th overall, by Colorado in the 2008 Entry Draft. He has played the last two seasons with Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League. He has 11 assists this season, after an eight goal, 16 point season in 2008-09.

Mats Trygg: Trygg is a veteran defenseman who as played his career in Sweden and Germany. The last five seasons have been spent in the German Elite League after six seasons with Garjestad of the Swedish Elite League. The 33-year-old has some offensive flair with seven goals and 15 points in 31 games this season.

Morten Ask: The 29-year-old forward came over to North America in the early 2000's where he played in the ECHL for a couple of years with Toledo and Las Vegas before returning to Europe. He has played in Finland and Sweden and currently plays in the German League for Nuremberg where he has 10 goals, 33 points and 119 penalty minutes in 42 games.

Anders Bastiansen: The 29-year-old forward has played the last five seasons in the Swedish Elite League. He has eight goals and 17 points this season with Farjestad.

Kristian Forsberg: Plays for Modo of the Swedish Elite League where he is not even the best Forsberg on the team as Peter is a future shoo in for the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 23-year-old has only two goals and three points in 48 games this season.

Mads Hansen: The 21-year-old has already played four seasons in the Swedish Elite League. Never drafted by the NHL, which seems to be consistent with most Norwegians on the Olympic team, he has four goals and 19 points this season after a 14 goal and 22 point season last year. He plays for Brynas.

Marius Holtet: The highest drafted Norwegian ever, 42nd overall in the 2002 Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars, Holtet played four seasons in the AHL, without ever getting a shot with the Stars, so he returned to Europe in the 2008-09 season and has played for Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League the last two seasons. He had 16 goals and 31 points for Iowa of the AHL in 2006-07, his best season ever.

Lars-Erik Spets: A member of the Norwegian national team for the last five years, Spets returned to play for Valrenga of the Norwegian League two seasons ago after three seasons in Sweden and Germany. The 24-year-old had 15 goals and 46 points in 38 games last season.

Mathis Olimb: Olimb spent one season in the OHL splitting time between London and Sarnia where he scored eight times and had 25 assists in 57 games before returning back to Europe. He had seven goals and 31 points with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League this season.

Martin Roymark: Roymark is playing this season for Forlunda in the Swedish Elite League after a career best 46 point effort last year with Sarpsborg of the Norwegian League. This season he has five goals and eight points. This is the third season with the national team for the 23-year-old.

Per-Age Skroder: Skroder could be the Norwegians top offensive player. He has scored 30 goals twice in his lengthy career in the Swedish Elite League, most recently last year when he also chipped in with 29 assists for a career high 59 points. The 31-year-old has spent 12 years in the top league in Sweden.

Tore Vikingstad: Vikingstad was taken in the sixth round by the St. Louis Blues in the 1999 Entry Draft but never played in North America. He started his career in Sweden and has played the last nine seasons in Germany, the last two in Hanover. The playmaker has 13 goals and 55 points this season.

Martin Ylven- Laumann: Ylven-Laumann just turned 21 in December. He is not a scoring forward and should be a bottom six forward for the Norwegians. He plays for Linkoping in the Swedish Elite League.

Mats Zuccarello-Aasen: The 22-year-old will be a top six forward for Norway. He currently plays for Modo of the Swedish Elite League and has 18 goals and 51 points in 48 games this season. He will line up with fellow Norwegian Per-Age Skroder on the top line.

Late Notes: Jonas Andersen will replace Morton Ask in the Norway lineup as Ask was injured in a pre-Olympic game against Belarus in Winnipeg. Andersen plays for Sparta Sarpsbourg.

Schedule:

Canada - Feb. 16
United States - Feb. 18
Switzerland - Feb. 20

The Norwegians are in tough this tournament as they play both North American teams before facing the Swiss. They have to beat the Swiss to have a shot at the quarter-finals, but we think that this is unlikely.

continue story »
Michael Finewax has been covering hockey since 2005 and is the Hockey Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter.
Email :Mike Finewax



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