Team USA is back in action on Saturday with a huge preliminary round game against Russia. It's the game we've all been waiting for.
United States vs. Russia (Group A)
Game time: 7:30 a.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. Sochi time
TV: NBCSN (USA), CBC (Canada)
Streaming: NBCOlympics.com (USA), Olympics.CBC.ca (Canada)
When it comes to preliminary round play, they don't get much bigger than Saturday's United States vs. Russia matchup. Both teams enter the game coming off of very different wins in their Sochi debuts.
The United States dominated a pretty good (or so we thought?) Slovakia team, while Russia entered the third period of its game against Slovenia up by only one goal before finally pulling away late and avoiding what could have been a historic upset.
The hosts will have to be a lot better on Saturday as the competition gets significantly tougher.
The thing about this game for the United States is that even though Russia has more firepower offensively than what it saw on Thursday against Slovakia, it might be getting an even better matchup when it comes to the Russian defense. It lacks the Zdeno Chara presence it had to go up against Slovakia, and from top-to-bottom it might be the weakest group of any of the Gold medal contenders. That could be good news for a United States team that not only put seven goals on the board in its opener, but has five of the top goal-scorers in the NHL (Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, Max Pacioretty and James van Riemsdyk) entering the Olympic break.
If nothing else, it could present a wide open game because whatever shortcomings Russia has on its defense, they more than make up for it when it comes to its collection of forwards, including perhaps the most talented line in the tournament with Evgeni Malkin centering Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.
Ovechkin and Malkin started the scoring for Russia on Thursday, each scoring goals in the first four minutes.
The two starting goaltenders, 2012 Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick for the United States and reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky for Russia, are certainly going to have their hands full all day.
For Bobrovsky, it will be his first start of the tournament while Quick was in net for team USA's win over Slovakia. It still seems to be a little surprising that Quick has clearly taken over the No. 1 job given how dominant Ryan Miller was in 2010 when he was the tournament MVP during Team USA's run to the silver medal. Quick is a worthy selection though, especially given how well he's played in big games over the past couple of years.
He wasn't tested that much on Thursday, but that is sure to change on Saturday.