The Winter Olympics are underway and the New Jersey Devils will be sending a few European players over to Sochi. There are four Devils players on their roster that received the honors of playing in Sochi. Three of those players will play for the Czech Republic and one will play for Switzerland.
Damien Brunner will be travelling to Sochi to represent Switzerland. While Switzerland is not a powerhouse team, they do have a few interesting match-ups. Group C for men's hockey includes Latvia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. Let's look at the team.
Goalies: Reto Berra (NHL), Jonas Hiller (NHL), Tobias Stephan
Forwards: Andres Ambühl, Matthias Bieber, Simon Bodenmann, Damien Brunner (NHL), Luca Cunti, Ryan Gardner, Denis Hollenstein, Simon Moser, Nino Niederreiter (NHL), Martin Plüss, Kevin Romy, Reto Suri, Morris Trachsler, Roman Wick
Defensemen: Severin Blindenbacher, Rafael Diaz (NHL), Philippe Furrer, Roman Josi (NHL), Mathias Seger, Mark Streit (NHL), Julien Vauclair, Yannick Weber (NHL)
Brunner will be surrounded with seven other NHL players on the Swiss team. Jonas Hiller is a solid goaltender, but the defense will be very susceptible past the likes of Streit and Weber. The forward corps is also somewhat thin. Nino Niederreiter and Brunner will be relied on to put up quite a few points with the surrounding cast being played mostly by players from the swiss league.
Here is the schedule for the Swiss team:
February 12th (12pm EST) vs. Latvia
Latvia is a fairly week team with no current NHL players. They do have an up and coming forward in Zemgus Girgensons, the #14 pick in the 2012 NHL Draft.
February 14th (7:30am EST) vs. Sweden
I don't really need to tell anyone about the powerhouse team that will be the Swedish National team, do I? Their roster incorporates an all star goaltender in Henrik Lundqvist, a host of star forwards including the Sedins, and arguably the best NHL defenseman in Erik Karlsson.
February 15th (12pm EST) vs. Czech Republic
This will be interesting as Brunner will face the other three Devils that will be playing in the Olympics this year.
Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, and Marek Zidlicky will lead the second strongest team in group C behind Sweden. Jagr and Elias are the stars of the Czech team with a fairly sizable roster to help them try and medal this year. The Czech team is not as loaded as it has been in years past, but they will surely push for a medal this year. Their roster is below.
Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec (NHL), Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar
Forward: Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias (NHL), Michael Frolik (NHL), Martin Hanzal (NHL), Ales Hemsky (NHL), Jaromir Jagr (NHL), David Krejci (NHL), Milan Michalek (NHL), Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec (NHL), Vladimir Sobotka (NHL), Jakub Voracek (NHL)
Defense: Michal Barinka, Michal Rozsival (NHL), Radko Gudas (NHL), Tomas Kaberle (NHL), Lukas Krajicek, Zbynek Michalek (NHL), Ladislav Smid (NHL), Marek Zidlicky (NHL)
Czech team's schedule:
February 12th (12pm EST) vs. Sweden
February 14th (3am EST) vs. Latvia
February 15th (12pm EST) vs. Switzerland
So, now you know when to watch the Devils players during the Olympics. I'm personally excited to see Sweden play the Czech Republic in the Group C match-ups. Hopefully the Devils players enjoy their time over in Russia and make it back with little to no bumps and bruises and ready for a whirlwind end to the NHL season!