We've looked at each of the Los Angeles Kings Olympians and their teams quite a bit, so we'll keep this pretty short. Each of today's games features one team with Kings, and one team without. Should make your rooting interests pretty clear. Here's what we've got.
(all times Pacific)
SLOVENIA vs Sweden (12:00 AM)
Slovenia's already gone further than anyone expected. Now, they have a chance to go further than anyone dreamed. Sweden earned the number one overall seed by being the only team to win all three of their preliminary-round games in regulation. However, none of the wins were all that impressive; two-goal wins over the Czech Republic and Latvia, and a one-goal win over Switzerland. They're also banged up. Still heavy favorites, of course... Henrik Lundqvist is one of the world's best goaltenders, Erik Karlsson is one of the world's most dangerous blueliners, and with 21 of 22 skaters in the NHL, they're extremely balanced. But they don't have Anze Kopitar, do they?
RUSSIA vs Finland (4:30 AM)
Russia has underachieved a bit, but considering their only loss was a controversial shootout defeat, they're not in any sort of crisis. However, an inability to score against Slovakia put them in the qualification round. They beat Norway to advance, and now play a team which has been surprisingly carried by its offense. Tuukka Rask has struggled in goal, but with the offense contributing 15 goals, their only blemish was an overtime loss to Canada. This should be the day's tightest matchup, and one where Slava Voynov and the Russians hope they can find a home ice advantage.
USA vs Czech Republic (9:00 AM)
Jonathan Quick is back in goal for the United States, and their reward for an undefeated opening round? They'll face an unpredictable Czech squad. The Czechs lost to Switzerland and Finland in the early round, but rebounded to take down Slovakia and qualify for the quarterfinals. They have plenty of veteran threats-- Jaromir Jagr, Tomas Plekanec, David Krejci, etc.-- but none of that matters if they don't get a good performance from the maligned Ondrej Pavelec in goal. Pavelec has been awful in the NHL in back-to-back situations, so Dustin Brown and team will look to strike early and often.
CANADA vs Latvia (9:00 AM, also. Why?)
This is the most lopsided matchup on paper. Jeff Carter and the offense have only really clicked on all cylinders against Austria so far, but they still have the most terrifying forward group in Sochi. Drew Doughty has been excellent so far, and Carey Price has been strong in goal. Latvia scuffled along before surprising Switzerland last round, and they will look to build on that against a Canada team which may be looking ahead. Captain Sandis Ozolinsh has been around the block a few times (okay, a lot of times), but he leads a team which has a few dangerous youngsters such as Kaspars Daugavins and Zemgus (ZEMGUS!) Girgensons. Don't expect a close game, but if Latvia hangs in, who knows?
The thread will be open for the next 12 hours, and beyond. Enjoy and Go Kings Go!