Canada vs. Latvia
Game time: Noon ET / 9 p.m. Sochi time
TV: MSNBC (USA), CBC (Canada)
Streaming: NBCOlympics.com (USA), Olympics.CBC.ca (Canada)
Two teams with completely different expectations face off on Wednesday as the upstart Latvians take on Team Canada in quarterfinal action for the right to play for a medal in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Latvia is coming off a 3-1 win over the defensive-minded Swiss hockey team and continues a surge of surprising play for a team featuring only one NHL player, 20-year-old forward Zemgus Girgensons.
Latvia lost all three games of group play but was a surprisingly tough opponent in Group C, finally breaking through offensively against Switzerland after surviving an early onslaught to earn the country's first berth into the quarterfinal round.
Carey Price will start for Team Canada in net on Wednesday against Latvia, having started the first and third games of the tournament for Canada and making just a combined 33 saves in those two games. Canada has controlled play and dominated possession for long stretches during its three games, yet Price had to face pockets of intense pressure and stood tall -- giving coach Mike Babcock the confidence to go with the Montreal Canadiens goalie in the first elimination game of the tournament.
Once again, forward Matt Duchene and defenseman P.K. Subban will not be on the roster for Canada, with Martin St. Louis getting the chance as the team's 13th forward. Babcock also shook up the line combinations a bit after the 2-1 win over Finland on Sunday, moving Chris Kunitz back to the wing with Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron while Jamie Benn will join center Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on a big body line that could prove instrumental for Canada against a tight defensive team like Latvia.
Canada has underwhelmed at times in the tournament and while it is expected to advance to the medal round against an overmatched team like Latvia, this is exactly the sort of a game a team with high expectations can lose if approached too lightly. Latvia has just one NHL player on the roster but has used a strong defensive structure and a strict adherence to the team system to give opponents trouble all tournament long, and now rides the momentum from a big win on Tuesday.
The winner will meet the victor between the Czech Republic and the United States, who also play at 12 p.m. ET.