SOCHI, Russia — The U.S. men's hockey team was designed to be fast and hard to play against and it was all of that in the preliminary round of the Sochi Olympic tournament, sandwiching a dramatic shootout victory over Russia between routs of Slovakia and Slovenia.
But as many bruises as the U.S. players inflicted with their in-your-face style, as many vapor trails as they left by capitalizing on their speed on the wide international ice surface, those were only preludes to what they must do as the knockout phase begins.
The real test, center
"We're confident, but we know we've still got a lot of work to do," Kesler said. "It's win or go home, and we focus on that game and not worry about anything else."
In other quarterfinals Wednesday, top-seeded Sweden will face upstart Slovenia, Finland will face host Russia, and surprising Latvia will face Canada, all at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
The Czechs set up their matchup with the U.S. by hanging on to beat Slovakia, 5-3, Tuesday in a qualification playoff game at Shayba Arena.
Roman Cervenka, who played for the
"We've got to make sure we get our power play going, like we did [Tuesday], because special teams is going to be huge. We've got to skate for 60 minutes because they're a very fast team. We've got to make sure we are ready because it's going to be tough."
Voracek acknowledged the Czechs tired in the third period Tuesday, and they will have only a day's recovery time before they face the speedy U.S. That could wear them down.
But Hemsky said he and his teammates won't feel any pressure.
"We have nothing to lose," he said. "The U.S. are a great team. They have a young team and a lot of great players that can score," he said. "They are a fast team and they are playing great all tournament. ...
"You never know. If our goalie plays great again, you never know. It's a tournament. One game, you never know."
"It's a confident group," said Quick, who is expected to start on Wednesday. "You win three games, you're going to have some confidence. Obviously, we know we need to play better going forward here, so that's what the focus is, trying to get better."
Here's a look at how the Kings and