SOCHI, Russia — Five flags fly over the Spoked-B outpost here — Canada, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden, and the Czech Republic. The question is, how many of the Bruins who are playing for their homelands at Olympus will come home with medals? Two did last time in Vancouver — Canadian forward Patrice Bergeron with gold, American goalie Tim Thomas with silver.
This time, three Bruins have a strong chance of making the podium next weekend. Bergeron, Sweden’s Loui Eriksson, and Finland’s Tuukka Rask all will be playing in the Wednesday quarterfinals, with Rask and Eriksson destined to meet in the semis if the seedings hold and Bergeron facing the Americans. Slovak captain Zdeno Chara, whose teammates lost to Russia in a shootout Sunday, will be up against David Krejci of the Czech Republic in Tuesday’s qualification game for advancement to the final eight.
The Czechs, who finished third in their group, were beaten by both Sweden and Switzerland while defeating Latvia, with Krejci tallying one point in group play.
The Canadians, who edged the Finns, 2-1, in overtime Sunday with Rask in the cage, won their group and will face the Switzerland-Latvia victor in the quarters, while Finland, which advanced as the second-place team with the best record, will meet the Russia-Norway survivor.
“If we play team defense and protect the house, we can still win,” said Rask, who conceded the winning goal to Drew Doughty at 2:32 of the extra session after making 25 saves. “Today was a good example of that and it’s too bad we fell short.”
The Canadians, who dominated Norway (3-1) and Austria (6-0) in their two previous victories, have received a couple of assists from Bergeron, whose customary craftiness on defensive faceoffs has been of particular benefit.
“We have high expectations of ourselves, no different compared to Vancouver,” said Bergeron. “We know it is going to be a rough journey and we’re going to take it one game at a time. We’re here to win.”
The Slovaks, who were hammered, 7-1, by the US and stunned, 3-1, by Slovenia, shut out the Russians for all 65 minutes before Alexander Radulov and Ilya Kovalchuk beat goalie Jan Laco in the shootout while Semyon Varlamov denied both Michal Handzus and Tomas Tatar.
“Whoever we play we’ve got to do our best,” said Chara, who logged nearly 28 minutes of ice time, the most on the squad. “There’s nothing special about it. It’s just a do-or-die thing.”
Sweden, which won last year’s world title with Eriksson aboard, swept its group and is the top seed. Eriksson, who has been getting between 18 and 21 minutes a night, has yet to tally a point.