It's a great day for undercard hockey as eight teams battle for a spot in the quarterfinals of the men's hockey medal round. The Sochi crowd will be focused on Russia's game with Norway, but there's plenty of intriguing action to go around.
In terms of sheer geopolitical intrigue, the Czech Republic and Slovakia squaring off is something straight out of what would happen if WWE boss Vince McMahon ran the IOC or United Nations. Or maybe Taylor Swift (we are never ever ever ever etc. etc.).
Slovenia and Austria go head to head in the first game of the round; that'll be a great opportunity to see a pair of stellar uniforms in action but neither team poses a serious threat to Sweden in the next round. Also, there's Switzerland and Latvia, but with Canada awaiting the winner, this is akin to the 16-vs.-16 play-in game that college basketball delights in every March.
Really, all eyes should be on Russia-Norway, because if there's any team in the qualifier stage that can cause serious damage in the quarters and semis, it's Russia; just ask the United States how dangerous the Russians are.
In women's hockey, the endgame is near, if the medals are not. The fifth-place and seventh-place games are on Tuesday, with Finland and Russia facing each other for fifth, and lowly Germany and Japan battling to stay out of last place. If you're hunting for USA hockey, the American women play for the gold medal on Thursday.
Full schedule, via Sochi2014.com, is below.
3 a.m.: Slovenia vs. Austria
7:30 a.m.: Russia vs. Norway
12 p.m.: Switzerland vs. Latvia
12 p.m.: Czech Republic vs. Slovakia
3 a.m.: Germany vs. Japan
7:30 a.m.: Finland vs. Russia