Two group A teams will play for a spot in the semi-finals, likely against Canada. Both Switzerland and the ROC were medal hopefuls, but only one will have the chance for a podium finish. Will the Russians return to the medal round for a second straight Olympics? Or will Switzerland advance for the first time since 2014?
How to Watch
ROC vs. Switzerland Friday, Feb. 11, 11:10 p.m. Eastern Time
- United States (EN): nbcolympics.com, CNBC, Peacock
- Canada (EN): CBC.ca, CBC GEM
- Canada (FR): radio-canada.ca, ici.tou.tv/
Preliminary Round Recap
ROC (4th in Group A, 1-3-0, 6 GF, 18 GA)
The ROC won their only preliminary round game over Switzerland, scoring five of their six tournament goals. The ROC has struggled with positive COVID tests and has had at least eight players isolating at various points. They come into this game still with a short bench.
Switzerland (5th in Group A, 1-3-0, 6 GF, 27 GA)
Switzerland lost 12-1 to start the tournament when the Canadians made a statement opening. They continued with losses to the US and ROC. Despite this, they rallied to win in a hard-fought battle with Finland. Finland, Russia, and Switzerland all ended with three points, but the tie break left Switzerland at the bottom of the table.
Keys to the Game
· Offensive Zone Control: The ROC should capitalize on the Swiss defensive woes with sustained offensive zone time. Swiss goaltending has been strong but not strong enough to save the team in the face of an endless barrage of shots. Their greatest weaknesses become exposed with lots of puck movement in front of the net, and the team doesn’t adjust quickly enough, getting turned around. If the ROC can dominate the offensive zone, they can dominate the game.
· Quick Start: The ROC’s only win came when they opened the scoring. Whoever goes ahead first in this game has a good chance of winning. The ROC will want to get their forwards and goalie on a roll early, preventing the need to fight from behind. More importantly, ROC will want to prevent Swiss goalie Andrea Brändli from getting into a groove. In the right rhythm, she can steal the game.
· Powerplay Conversion: The ROC is the most penalized team in the tournament, with 52 penalty minutes through four games. They also have killed the advantage just 64% of the time. Switzerland has been quite good on the player advantage scoring their only goal against Canada with a powerplay conversion. The swiss need to capitalize on the possibly limited scoring opportunities they get. The powerplay is a Russian weak point they must exploit.
· Limiting shots: The Swiss have struggled in their own end. Their goaltending duo has a combined .870 save percentage in an admittedly small sample size. It isn’t amazing but is somewhat excusable considering the team allows opponents to take an average of 51 shots on goal, way more than any other Group A team. Goaltending can only bail out bad defending so many times. Brändli had a 58 save performance against Canada, and Switzerland still lost by 11 goals! The Swiss need to break up passes and prevent dangerous shots giving their goalies a chance to shine.
ROC: Anna Shokhina
· Shokhina has one goal and no assists in four games played. As the leading scorer in the ZHhL with over a two-point-per-game pace, I thought she’d be an unstoppable force in the tournament. Her shot is elite and playmaking matched by few in Russia. The team relies on scoring from a few key players, including Shokhina. With multiple players out because of COVID protocol, ROC will need Shokhina to perform. Anna Shokhina is the strongest scorer on this team, and if she rises to that title, ROC will succeed in the elimination round.
Switzerland: Lara Stalder
· Captain Lara Stalder leads Switzerland with three goals in four games, two of those from the powerplay. The swiss powerplay has converted at 19% through four games, largely thanks to Stalder’s unit. Like the ROC, Swiss scoring comes from a few key players. Watch out for Stalder and her linemates Alina Müller and Noemi Ryhner to be combining for Switzerland’s best offensive opportunities.