Recapping the Flyers At the 2014 Olympic Games in Socchi
The 2014 Winter Olympics have concluded and all attention now turns back to the NHL and towards the Philadelphia Flyers returning to action on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks.
While most of the Flyers enjoyed a few weeks off, five Flyers spent the Olympic break representing their respective countries in Sochi, Russia. Those five players were Kimmo Timonen (Finland), Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic), Michael Raffl (Austria), Mark Streit (Switzerland) and Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia).
For the most part, the success of those players went with the success of their teams.
Meszaros had a rather difficult trip to Sochi. Slovakia went through the tournament without a single win. The most memorable game for the Slovaks was a 1-0 shootout loss to Russia in preliminary play. In that game, Meszaros stood out for a game saving save in overtime after goaltender Jan Laco needed some help to block a shot. Slovakia then lost to Czech Republic in the qualification round.
Streit was just like his Swiss team. He did not stand out for doing anything special, but he also did not stand out for doing anything wrong. Switzerland lacked offense but simply did not give up goals, and Streit was a part of the overall defensive team effort. The Swiss would win two of three preliminary games before falling to Latvia in the qualification round.
Raffl’s Austrian team was the victim of a tough pool. With Canada and Finland in their pool, no one expected anything good. Raffl did, however, manage to find some personal success with a nice assist in a brutal loss to Finland and a goal in a win over Norway. Austria lost to an extremely impressive and surprising Slovenia team in the qualification round. Raffl finished with a goal and two assists for three points in four games.
Voracek was a member of a Czech team that certainly could score early on but went on to struggle both offensively and defensively as the tournament progressed. The Czechs shook up their lines a lot, but Voracek spent most of his time playing with Martin Erat and Patrik Elias. The Czechs won a qualification game over Slovakia before losing in the quarterfinals to USA. Voracek managed a goal and an assist in five games.
Timonen, making his fifth triple to the Olympic games, easily found the most success in Sochi as Finland won the bronze medal in a 5-0 win over USA on Saturday. Timonen was part of Finland’s number one defensive pairing with Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen. Timonen saw plenty of special teams play as well. There were many times when Timonen looked like the old Timonen of seasons past. Timonen’s bronze medal puts him in a group of only seven players who have won four Olympic medals.
For the Flyers and the rest of the NHL, the Olympics are already talk of the past. But it is still important to recognize these five guys for their hard work. They should be congratulated for their efforts in trying to help their respective nations win a medal.
Kimmo Timonen clearly found the most success and should be very proud of it, all five players put in a great deal of hard work in such a short time. And whether or not one agrees with the Olympic break and sending NHLers over for the tournament, playing for ones nation brings out a tremendous amount of pride in athletes and is something extremely special to see.