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Olympic Hockey Day 4 Preview and Open Thread: Latvians Ready for Prime Time, Swedes Face Ghosts of 2002

After Latvia shocked the world last night by killing off seven of eight Russian power plays, the Olympic tournament continues on with three games, the last of which is by far the most interesting.

3dflags-blr1-2_medium3dflags-swe1-2_mediumGroup C Game 3: Sweden (1-0-0-0) vs. Belarus (0-0-0-1) - 3 PM - MSNBC: Belarus may well be the worst team in the tournament, but that sure didn't make any difference in 2002.  You can't possibly watch this video enough times.  Will Henrik Lundqvist be able to execute the same brilliant header? Only time will tell.  The Swedes and Finns have to think they have a decent shot to both make the top four with the struggles of Canada and Russia, so it will be interesting to see how both respond to the pressure.

3dflags-lva1-3_medium3dflags-cze1-2_mediumGroup B Game 4: Czech Republic (1-0-0-0) vs. LATVIA (0-0-0-1) - 7:30 PM - CNBC:  There was a lot to like in the first Latvian game of the tournament, but there should be even more to like this time around.  They presumably have worked on their passing in the last couple days, so they are now likely to be perfect at every aspect of the game.  As if the Latvians needed more of an advantage in this game, they have two days of rest to only one for the Czechs.  So they should play twice as well as they did in the first game.  A penalty kill that was already incredible by going 7-for-8 will do twice as well, going 14-for-8, which means they will kill every penalty and pick up six shorthanded goals in the process.  If you haven't already memorized DragonGirl's phenomenal roster, do so now.  As for the Czechs, they barely beat the same Slovak team who needed seven rounds of shootout to knockoff the same Russians whom Latvia dominated in most every category of play.   I smell a rout.

3dflags-deu1-2_medium3dflags-fin1-2_mediumGroup C Game 4: Finland (1-0-0-0) vs. Germany (0-0-0-1) - 11:55 PM - CNBC: Next to the Latvians, the most impressive of the underlings to me in the first round was the Germans.  They didn't score or anything, but they got some shots on goal, and those black jerseys are real nice lookin'.  Kimmo Timonen will unlikely feed off the Flyersy energy trail still visible on the blueline after Oskars Bartulis' stellar play on the same ice sheet some hours before.

Blast away in the comments below.  You know what's at stake.  You know the rallying cry.

Don't try to run, it's all set and done / There's a treasure in sight.

We are robbing you blind / I hope you don't mind / We are taking it all tonight.

Just walk away, we will conquer it all / Pirates will stand and the loser will fall.

(Animated flag images by