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Espoo 2019 day four: USA rolls over Switzerland

France gets their first lead of the tournament but comes up short against Sweden.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Another quiet day in Espoo with just two games to cover - a predictable blowout and a battle that no one was expecting.

The IIHF has video highlights up for each game (just Sweden vs France at time of posting but USA vs Switzerland should be up eventually).

Group A

TEAM GP PTS W OTW OTL L GF GA GD
TEAM GP PTS W OTW OTL L GF GA GD
USA 3 9 3 0 0 0 17 4 13
CAN 2 3 1 0 0 1 8 3 5
FIN 2 3 1 0 0 1 6 6 0
RUS 2 3 1 0 0 1 2 5 -3
SUI 3 0 0 0 0 3 1 16 -15

Group B

TEAM GP PTS W OTW OTL L GF GA GD
TEAM GP PTS W OTW OTL L GF GA GD
CZE 2 6 2 0 0 0 8 4 4
GER 2 5 1 1 0 1 5 3 2
SWE 3 4 1 0 1 1 6 8 -2
JPN 2 3 1 0 0 1 5 3 2
FRA 3 0 0 0 0 3 2 8 -6

Sweden 2 vs France 1

First Period

France has some real trouble getting it out of their zone early, but fortunately their goalie is up to the task. Caroline Baldin makes a good save on a fluttering shot and then squares up to take care of the rebound. There’s a nice behind the net dish by Fanny Rask to Emma Nordin but Baldin is there to stop her right in the crease with a strong toe save.

Eloïse Juré heads to the box, giving Sweden their first power play of the game. A point shot from Swedish wunderkind Maja Nylén Persson starts this PP off. Baldin makes the initial save and then sprawls on top of the rebound. Another behind the net pass and a shot by Johanna Olofsson also leads to a Baldin save.

France kills it off. It’s a decent kill, honestly—the Swedes got some good chances but it was hardly a real shooting gallery, and Baldin looked good.

Josefine Holmgren collides with a French player at the Swedish blueline, ends up getting an interference penalty, and France goes on their first power play.

France holds onto the puck behind Baldin’s net for way too long. Fanny Rask and Erika Grahm just hassle them relentlessly, force several turnovers and waste maybe 30-45 seconds of power play time while France is trying to regain puck control. Unsurprisingly, Sweden kills this one off.

A long-range shot by Clara Rozier is one of the first saves I’ve seen Swedish goaltender Sara Grahn forced to make.

Meanwhile, Caroline Baldin is busy, but she’s looked solid so far. A windmilling glove save on Nordin is particularly impressive.

Fanny Rask forces a turnover in the French zone, because Fanny Rask is really good!

Lara Escudero came in by herself and went all Mitch Marner defending the puck from a couple of Swedes, but her backup wasn’t able to do anything with the pass.

An incredible paddle save by Baldin off a rebound and an airborne shot by Olofsson. She bats it down and sprawls on top of it to keep the score tied at zero. Amazing.

FRANCE SCORES! Looks like a set play off the faceoff, Lore Baudrit shoots it into Escudero’s shin pads, and she collects it and fires it past Sweden’s goalie. I’m not sure the goalie even saw it through her own defenders. 1-0 France.

Strong defense by France as Sweden gets set up in their end immediately after. A French defender spikes the puck into the neutral zone to force Sweden to regroup.

Good shot from Marion Allemoz through a bit of a wrestling match with a Swedish defender, but Grahn makes the save.

Baldin ends the period with another really impressive save. France does not look nearly as overmatched as I expected, and they go into intermission with their first lead of the tournament.

Second Period

We start off with a rough turnover behind France’s net, but Baldin bails out her teammate.

As the second goes on, the game’s turned into more of a track meet—there’s a lot more time spent skating around the neutral zone than when we started off.

There’s a good follow-up chance on a rebound of a Baudrit shot by Allemoz, but Grahn covers it.

Sweden ties it up on a messy, messy play right on Baldin’s doorstep. France just can’t get puck control to clear it, and Melinda Olsson is able to drag the puck out of traffic and away from the French defenders long enough to get a clean point-blank shot on Baldin. 1-1.

Sweden’s pushing harder now. There’s a Pernilla Winberg backhander that then both she and Rask try to poke through Baldin, who keeps it out. They’re leaning harder on France than they have so far this game, but Baldin keeps the score tied.

The refs seem to be letting a lot of stuff go, which is an interesting choice.

Nice defensive play by France to break up a Swedish rush. They’ve been quite good at that—small stick plays to break up momentum, force the puck out and make Sweden regroup. France is very active defensively in a sharp, coherent way. This isn’t the usual collapse-and-pray defensive style that I’m used to seeing in international competition from clearly overmatched teams—they’re not just desperately trying to clear the puck, there’s strategy to it. Great to see. They might still end up relegated, but this is a team that’s not all that far from coming to top level and sticking around.

Sweden takes the lead on a Nylén Persson goal, with Baldin literally sprawled in the crease trying to cover the puck. Nordin and Rask both take whacks at it before Nylén Persson is able to find the puck with her stick and pop it over Baldin. 2-1 Sweden.

Finally, a penalty! Olofsson shoves Emmanuelle Passard into the boards behind Grahn and France goes to the power play.

The French are getting hardly any zone time on this power play. Le sigh. The moment they look like they might get something going in the slot, the power play—and seconds after that, the period—comes to an end.

Third Period

We start off with a Swedish power play! Estelle Duvin slashed Fanny Rask at the very end of the second period, so she will spend the first two minutes of the third in the box.

France—specifically, Baudrit—kills a decent chunk of time just by pinning the puck against the boards and not moving. Sweden is holding the zone, but France is doing a good job interrupting the cycle and holding them to the outside. They kill it off and we return to 5 on 5.

Baldin is still playing very well, making tough saves through traffic and looking poised.

France gets in and gets set up, and we’ve got a strong chance from Passard and some good passing. Even down a goal, this French team seems perky, somehow. They can sense that this is a winnable game.

Jade Vix goes to the box for body-checking, and Sweden gets another power play. Yet again, France’s penalty kill does a really good job neutralizing any truly dangerous chances. They kill it off easily.

A turnover off a bad pass in the neutral zone gives Nylén Persson a chance on the rush, but Baldin makes the save.

Feed from Duvin to Passard in the slot, but there’s a Swede draped all over her, and she can’t quite get off a clear shot.

Baldin makes a diving save, the first really good chance for Sweden in a while.

Léa Parment drives her shoulder into Lisa Johansson and is called for body-checking—I’d call that more of a check/dive combination, but I’m not a referee. Sweden only gets about thirty seconds of PP time before Grahm blatantly hooks Allemoz. Not long after that, Hanna Olsson slashes Estelle Duvin, and France gets a real gift—about 45 seconds of 4 on 3 followed by 30 seconds of 5 on 3 and then another 30-second power play. Don’t commit penalties when you’re up a player, kids! The Swedes manage to kill it off, and they should count themselves lucky.

France looks for a moment like they’re going to have numbers off a neutral zone turnover but it ends up whistled for offsides when one of the French players falls over.

With just over three minutes left, Baldin makes another good save with a Swede right on her doorstep.

With 2:10 left, a one-goal deficit, and an offensive zone faceoff, France takes their timeout and pulls Baldin. The Swedes hassle them a lot in their own zone, not managing to score on the empty net but wasting time off the clock, and while France eventually gets it back into the offensive zone they can’t manage to get any shots off. With a minute left, Sweden ices the puck.

The final minute is full of excitement—mostly me, a neutral and objective journalist, yelling SHOOT IT from my couch—and Lore Baudrit listens, almost putting the puck past Grahn. Grahm carries the puck into the French zone but a sprawling defensive play keeps her from scoring on the empty net. Even so, France can’t even up the score. Sweden wins this one, 2-1, in a performance that should still greatly concern Swedish coach Ylva Martinsen. They looked immensely beatable for pretty much all of this game, and a stronger team than France would have had them for lunch.

Players of the game are Allemoz for France, Melinda Olsson for Sweden. Shots ended up 40 to 20 for Sweden.

USA 8 vs Switzerland 0

This is going to be a massacre, and massacres aren’t that fun to recap. There’s not any point in analysing play because Switzerland, especially Switzerland without Lara Stalder, are so far behind the USA, anything less than a dominant performance by the Americans would be a disappointment.

Janine Alder gets the call for Switzerland, with Maddie Rooney in the opposite net. Alex Rigsby gets the day completely off so it’s Emma Polusny on the bench for USA for the first time in her career. Hannah Brandt is scratched for the second game in a row, and this time she’s joined by Kacey Bellamy.

First period

There’s an early zone entry for Swiss, but Team USA takes control pretty quickly.

Alex Carpenter opens the scoring, grabbing a turnover, getting in Alder’s kitchen and burying it past Alder’s right pad unassisted. 1-0

Alder makes a nice save on Pankowski.

The commentary for this game, as it is for every game that involves Rod Black, is truly egregious.

Dani Cameranesi takes a feed from Emily Pfalzer, an excellent pass from behind the net, and it’s 2-0 USA.

Rod fucking Black just called the SWHL “kind of like a girls’ league” and I’m so mad I nearly missed Phoebe Staenz making her way around USA to take a shot on Rooney.

Yes, the SWHL is probably 5th in level, maybe 6th, behind the CWHL, NWHL, SDHL, Naisten liiga and Russia’s women’s hockey league (WHL or ZhHL depending on who you ask) but WHAT THE FUCK.

American power play with six minutes left in the first after a kerfuffle in Alder’s crease that has Sara Forster going to the box for cross-checking.

Megan Keller takes a pass from Brianna Decker and her shot hits Alder’s pads hard enough that it bounces up and over the goalkeeper’s shoulder and into the net. Power play goal, 3-0 USA.

Glove save Alder on a bomb from Megan Bozek.

Shots on the period are 22 to 2 in favour of the USA, which is about what you’d expect.

Second period

The Americans put Alder under siege off the opening faceoff, and it’s Amanda Kessel who makes it 4-0 less than a minute into the period. Michelle Picard and Kelly Pannek with the assists.

If the recap is better here on in, it’s because I’ve finally used the mute button. The closed captioning is still going because I’m not going to change my settings for two hours just to change them back, but I can ignore it.

Team USA spends the first few minutes of the period making it look like they have a power play until Alina Mueller gets frustrated and actually gives them a power play by taking an American out along the boards. This actually leads to a shorthanded 1 on 1 for Staenz, but the American defender stays with her and she can’t get a good shot off.

The Swiss look like they’re actually getting a zone entry for the first time this period but they come in offside.

Another attempt is whistled for icing. On the other hand we’re halfway through the period and Switzerland has as many shots on goal (2) as they did in the whole of the first so, progress?

Switzerland is starting to have a little more success keeping the USA to the outside and even sometimes in the neutral zone. I write that, and Alder immediately has to make a save with Kendall Coyne Schofield on the doorstep.

Some of the poses Alder holds after a save looks like she’s praying for help. We all wish Lara Stalder was on the ice too, Janine.

Kelly Pannek gets into a battle with Mueller, trying to stop her moving along the boards. Mueller goes down, Pannek goes off for hooking, and Switzerland has their first power play of the game, as well as their first real zone time of the period. It doesn’t last every long and while the penalty ends with the Swiss in the American zone, the period ends one second later.

Shots for the period were 19 to 2, which means the Swiss got no shots on the power play.

Third period

Team USA looks like they’ve taken their foot off the gas a bit for the third, which I always think is a bad idea. It might not lose them the game, but it’s not a mindset they want to get into. Not that this means Switzerland is getting any shots on goal.

Megan Bozek does Megan Bozek things, and a blast from the blueline is deflected in by Annie Pankowski. The goal is reviewed to see if Pankowski knocked it in with a high stick. The stick itself looks to me to have been high, but where Pankowski made contact with the puck was lower on the stick. I turned on the audio while waiting for the discussion and they’re talking about Pankowski’s work raising guide dogs, which Lauren Williams told us at the CWHL draft was a thing she and Pankowski (who were roommates) started because they missed their dogs while they were at college.

The goal is called off. The USA press for another, and then Switzerland gets its best opportunity of the game. Staenz comes into the American zone with Isabel Waidacher and Alina Mueller. Staenz passes to Waidacher, who passes back to Mueller, but she can’t beat Rooney. The Swiss fans and their cowbells go nuts.

Amanda Kessel is sick of the commentary going on about her family (they’ve now expanded to include her sister-in-law, Furies head coach Courtney) so she goes to one knee and wires one past Alder. 5-0 USA, assists to Bozek and Carpenter, and I mute the commentary again.

The Swiss get a penalty for too many players, which is really mean in a game against such a better team, and the USA, specifically Megan Keller, takes advantage with a bomb from the hash marks set up by Cayla Barnes and Kelly Pannek. 6-0

The seventh US goal is an Emily Pfalzer shot tipped in front by Hilary Knight for her first goal of the game. Cameranesi gets a secondary assist. Remember when I said the Americans had their foot off the gas? Yeah, not so much. Just under four minutes left. Shot clock’s at 53 to 5 for the game, and the tragedy of this is I bet the Swiss don’t even name Alder the player of the game.

Dani Cameranesi gets her second of the game with 22 seconds left. 8-0 USA. Assist to Jesse Compher.

Finally it’s over. Phoebe Staenz gets player of the game for Switzerland, a decent choice, as she seemed to lead every zone entry the Swiss had. Megan Keller wins for USA.

Total shots on goal were 57 to 6. Losing Florence Schelling and (even if temporarily) Lara Stalder has not done Switzerland any favours. USA takes on Russia next, and things should look a little more even in that game, although perhaps not as even as I would have predicted at the beginning of the tournament — Russia’s not lived up to their potential this year.

Monday is another full slate of games: Japan (who is in danger of relegation after Sweden’s win and has only tough matches left) takes on the Czech Republic, Switzerland hopes to make a better showing against Finland, France meets Germany in another battle of defensive teams, and Canada will battle with Russia for your afternoon viewing pleasure at 12:30 pm EDT.