All but three players from the Colorado Avalanche are excited to be on the long break to observe the Winter Olympics. Likewise, the three players who are not on break and competing in the Olympics are even more excited to represent their countries.
Paul Stastny (who was born in Canada, but shares dual-citizenship with Canada and the United States) is playing for team USA for his first time, while Peter Budaj is playing for Slovakia for his second time. Ruslan Salei is honored to play in his third Olympics for team Belarus, and was also honored as the team’s captain.
All three teams have played two games, with the United States having two wins, Slovakia one overtime win and a loss, and Belarus with two losses. All three teams are in different groups, with team USA in group A, Slovakia in B and Belarus in C. There are four teams in each group, and each team will play the other three in their group once for the preliminary round.
Team USA is on top of group A with their two wins, and are looking for a first-round bye if they can hold on to beat team Canada in their final game of the preliminary round.
Stastny has only one point (0g, 1a) through two games. He started on line with Zach Parise and Patrick Kane, but head coach Ron Wilson has mixed up the lines a little to prepare for Canada.
While team Slovakia sits third in group B, they did come off a very impressive shoot-out win against team Russia the other night. Budaj has not played yet, as has been back-up for Jaroslav Halak, who plays for the Montréal Canadiens.
Halak was able to stop Alexander Ovechkin, including other shooters, during the shoot-out to help ensure the victory against Russia.
Team Belarus holds the bottom position in group C with two losses against Finland and Sweden. Salei hasn’t acquired any points yet, but is leading the team with an average of almost 20 minutes on the ice.
Belarus looked terrible in their first game against Finland, who outshot Belarus 45-12 in the 5-1 Finland victory. However, Belarus did play a better game against Sweden and were one goal shy of a comeback, until Daniel Alfredsson scored the fourth Sweden goal with 10 seconds remaining in the game.
Team USA will play their final game of the preliminary round on Sunday. Wilson has not released the lines, so it is unclear who Stastny will be playing with.
Team Slovakia plays team Latvia Saturday for their final game of the round. It is also unclear whether Budaj will make his first start of the Olympics, or if Halak will get the start after the impressive win over team Russia.
Things look pretty bleak for team Belarus, who plays team Germany on Saturday for what will most likely be their last game of the Olympics.