Last week, the U.S. announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, at the 2014 Winter Classic. On Tuesday, the rest of the world followed suit. Although the Boston Bruins had no players selected to the Team USA, they were certainly well represented throughout other squads throughout the world.
When all was said and done, five members of the black and gold will be taking the ice for their home countries when the puck drops on Feb. 14. The list was headlined by captains Zdeno Chara (Slovakia) and Patrice Bergeron (Canada) and David Krejci (Czech Republic), but the Bruins veterans weren't the only headliners. Rounding out the selections were goalie Tuukka Rask (Finland), and winger Louis Eriksson (Sweden).
At the end of the day, the Bruins are a diverse team with a strong corps. of international players that will more than likely thrive on arguably the games' biggest stage come February.
1) Zdeno Chara-Defense-Slovakia
Chara, as he does for his NHL team, will be tasked with wearing the C for his native Slovakia. Even with three other serviceable NHL d-men on the roster, Big Z will still be expected to be on the ice for over 25 minutes a game. The Slovaks probably won't reach the medal round, but that amount of time is still more minutes than the Bruins would prefer for their Norris Trophy candidate. At 36, Chara is in phenomenal shape, but those extra minutes could come back to haunt a player that will be essential to another Cup run for Boston come the spring.
2) Patrice Bergeron-Center-Canada
The Bruins assistant captain might be Boston's best all-around player, but it is entirely possible that Bergeron won't see more than five minutes of ice time per game in Sochi. How might you ask? Well when your home nations' other four centermen are Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, and Jonathan Tavares, things start to make a little more sense.
All four of those players are legit Hart Trophy contenders, but that also doesn't mean Bergeron won't serve a vital role for the gold medal favorites. In a tournament where big penalty kills and faceoffs are just as important as goal scoring, the heart of the Bruins is one of the best in the world. Very few players with such talent are genuinely willing to sacrifice their minutes for the greater good, but this is the rare exception to the rule.
3) David Krejci-Center-Czech. Republic
Of all of the Boston skaters to make their respective national teams', no player is having a better season than David Krejci. Through the seasons' mid-way point, the crazy-talented Czech is in the midst of a career year. After 42 games, the crafty centerman leads the Bruins in points (36), and assists (27).
It seems as though the 'A' on his sweater his given the skilled forward even more confidence, and his newfound leadership will be critical for a Czech team that is looking to return to the glory of winning gold in the 98 Olympic games. If Krejci's past playoff performance is any indication, there is a good chance, that he will be on the ice for the Czech's when the game is on the line.
4) Louis Eriksson-Left Wing-Sweden
Eriksson represents the biggest wild-card of the bunch. The reason being that he is currently on IR with his second serious concussion of the season. Eriksson was named to the Swedish roster, but as of now their are no indications about whether he will return to the ice at all this season let alone the Olympics.
Boston has been ravaged by injuries so far this season, and the teams' front office would likely be furious with the Swedish national team if they rushed the deadly sniper back before he was cleared to play. Like Chara, Eriksson would be a key piece to another Bruins playoff run, so hopefully he takes his health and commitment to his NHL team seriously before hastily suiting up next month.
5) Tuukka Rask-Goalie-Finland
There is no doubt that Rask has earned the right to start for Team Finland in between the pipes, but that notion does come with a bit of a caveat. The downside for the Vezina contender is that his home country is loaded with talent in the crease. Of all of the teams in the Olympics the Fins are by far the deepest when it comes to skilled puck-stoppers.
Behind Rask are Antti Niemi (Sharks) and Kari Lehtonen (Stars), both of who are potential top-10 goalies in the NHL. Finland swimming in so much goalie talent that Pekka Rinne (who is recovering from a hip injury) was left off of the roster entirely. Rask will be the teams starter in the first game, but with a week defense in front of him, and two strong goalies pushing him for time, it is possible that his leash could be very short.
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