Olympic Hockey Quarterfinals Preview, Bracket: USA, Canada In Elimination Games Today

Four teams were eliminated from the men's hockey competition at these Winter Games on Tuesday, and today four more will be sent packing as the quarterfinal round plays out. The Americans play at 3 PM ET and Russia faces off against Canada at 7:30 PM ET in what many thought would be the gold medal game. Here are today's games and an updated look at the tournament bracket.

Today's Games

3:00 PM ET / 12:00 PM PT: #1 United States vs #8 Switzerland

Broadcast details: Live coverage on NBC (real, live, actual NBC!) and NBCOlympics.com

The United States is the top seed, and by virtue of that they have the easiest road to the gold medal game. That doesn't mean that Switzerland can't knock them off or that the Americans are taking the Swiss lightly, though. Sure, they barely squeezed by Belarus yesterday and they're likely fatigued from playing 70 minutes of hockey just the day before, but this is the same Swiss team that played the US tough in the tournament opener, falling 3-1.

Jonas Hiller will have to be on his A game to beat the USA, and the Swiss will likely need some extra help. You never know, however, what a team will play like in a big game with the adrenaline rushing. Just look back to Sunday, when the Americans came flying out of the gate against a more-skilled Canadian group. The USA should win today, but that doesn't mean they will if they don't leave it all on the ice.

The winner will move on to the semifinals against the winner of the Finland-Czech Republic quarterfinal match up.

7:30 PM ET / 4:30 PM PT: #4 Russia vs #6 Canada

Broadcast details: Live coverage at 7 PM ET (that means pregame stuff, wow!) on CNBC and NBCOlympics.com

This game has all the hype. Everybody expected this to be the gold medal game, or at worst a semi final matchup. The fact that it's a quarterfinal instead means that one of these teams will be going home without a medal, and that day of reckoning is today for either Canada or Russia.

With the Games in their home land, this is the one gold medal that Canadians really want more than anything. They'd give up all of the rest of them for it, if I had to guess. So how will they stave off elimination (and national embarrassment) today against the high-flying Russians?

Well, they're a deeper team and they need to play like it. They're loaded from top to bottom on offense. Russia is too, but they don't have the same caliber from top to bottom. In goal, Roberto Luongo has to play like Roberto Luongo. Or, better yet, he has to play like Martin Brodeur of old. Even better, he just has to play better than Evgeni Nabokov. None of those tasks are really easy when you consider the amount of pressure on this guy playing in his NHL city, his NHL rink, and for his entire country.

The Russians are going to play physical, early and often. Canada has to match it, and they have to match Russian intensity from the get go. If Russia scores an early goal like the USA did on Sunday, it'll be bad news for Canada. They need the crowd energized and behind them the entire way.

The winner, if they don't kill themselves before we get that far, will see the winner of the Sweden-Slovakia quarterfinal.

10:00 PM ET / 7:30 PM PT: #4 Finland vs #5 Czech Republic

Broadcast details: Live coverage on CNBC and NBCOlympics.com

Finland is being overlooked by literally everybody in this tournament. They won silver in Torino and they're just as good a team this year, yet nobody is giving them much of a look. They might be the deepest team in the tournament in goal, they have a strong offense and an even stronger defense. The Finns are just a solid team, top to bottom.

The Czechs are too, of course, but when you look at their almost loss to Latvia last night, you get nervous about their chances. You know the Finns were watching that game last night and licking their chops about getting on the ice tonight. It's simple for the Czechs, though: correct the mistakes from 24 hours ago and you'll have a chance. Problem is, there are a lot of problems to fix.

The winner will see either the United States or Switzerland in the semifinals.

12:00 AM ET / 9:00 PM PT: #2 Sweden vs #7 Slovakia

Broadcast details: Live coverage begins at puck drop on NBCOlympics.com and at 12:30 AM ET / 9:30 PM PT on CNBC

In the nightcap, it'll be bi-polar Slovakia versus the second-seeded Swedes.

The Slovaks are a weird study. Maybe they just have a problem getting up for a game against a weaker opponent, but they certainly had a scare from Norway last night. Meanwhile last week, they were able to beat the Russians in a shootout. They certainly do have a good team, and Jaroslav Halak is an excellent goaltender. They just need to keep it all together for a whole game.

Sweden, on the other hand, is the two seed for a reason. They allowed just two goals against in pool play and went undefeated in Group C. They don't have the fatigue factor to deal with after sitting out since Sunday night, while Slovakia played a night ago. If Slovakia can put it together, this could be a really good game.

The winner will face Canada or Russia in the semifinals.

Bracket (via On the Forecheck)

2010 Olympic Mens Hockey Bracket
 Playoff Qualifier 1 Quarterfinal 1

 #8 Switzerland  #1 USA

 #9 Belarus  #8 Switzerland Semifinal 1
 Playoff Qualifier 2 Quarterfinal 2 QF1 Winner Gold Medal
 #5 Czech Republic  #4 Finland QF2 Winner SF1 Winner
 #12 Latvia  #5 Czech Republic
SF2 Winner
 Playoff Qualifier 3 Quarterfinal 3

 #7 Slovakia  #2 Sweden
Bronze Medal
 #10 Norway  #7 Slovakia Semifinal 2 SF1 Loser
 Playoff Qualifier 4 Quarterfinal 4 QF3 Winner SF2 Loser
 #6 Canada  #3 Russia QF4 Winner
 #11 Germany  #6 Canada

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