Team Switzerland got their 2022 Beijing Olympics campaign underway with a game against Team Russia. This was also the first game of the men’s tournament, and despite the 1-0 scoreline, if this is what we can expect from the games, fans are in for a good 12 days of action.
Despite playing very well against tournament favorites Russia, Switzerland was beaten 1-0 in the game, conceding a goal at the very end of the first period, which was ultimately the game-winner and only one of the contest.
The Switzerland roster has plenty of experience and familiarity in it, and that certainly told in the game. The Swiss are settled and comfortable already, while the Russians look like they need a little more time.
Here are our main takeaways from the contest.
A Great Character 2nd Period from Switzerland
When you are in competitions such as this one, key moments define a team and their character, and the second period of this game was a great sign for Switzerland. After conceding a goal with three seconds remaining in the first period, coming from an unlucky bounce that found a way past netminder Reto Berra, the Swiss team responded perfectly.
The second was arguably the best period of hockey that Switzerland played. They did not suffer any dip in play due to the bad bounce and goal going against them, instead, they battled hard and desperately tried to find a way back into the game.
Every team will face adversity here, either on or off the ice. How you bounce back from it will determine the chances of success for the team it involves, and Swiss fans should be thrilled with what they saw in the second period of this game.
Strong Performance in Goal from Reto Berra
If the mid and lower-tier teams are to have any success on the international stage, then top-quality netminding is key. Switzerland certainly had that from Berra in their opening game, with the former Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames goaltender showing exactly what he is capable of delivering.
Berra didn’t face a constant barrage of shots from Team Russia, they put 30 on goal, but that did include a number of strong chances, including efforts from down low where Berra needed to react quickly to clear the puck.
At 35, with a good number of NHL games and international competitions under his belt, it is no surprise to see Berra settling in quickly to this tournament. If he can keep up this kind of play, he will be a big positive for the team.
Swiss Need to be More Clinical if They Want to Challenge for a Medal
Looking forward, if there is something for Switzerland to work on over the coming days, then it is certainly their shooting. They created many chances and outshot the Russians 33-30, but despite the many good opportunities we saw from them, they failed to put the puck in the back of the net.
Better shooting would have seen them take at least a point from this game rather than losing it 1-0, despite playing against one of the fancied nations. They may get away with it against Denmark and Czechia in their remaining group games. However, if this team wants to go far and potentially even challenge for a medal, they will have to do better with their chances. It is great to see them being created, but as today’s game showed, they count for nothing unless pucks hit the back of the bet.
Switzerland has to be more clinical if they want to go far in this competition and pick up a medal like they did when winning silver at the 2018 World Championships.
Switzerland has a rest day next, with no game scheduled for Thursday. However, they have back-to-back games to finish the group stage, beginning with the Czech Republic on Friday and ending with a game against Denmark on Saturday.
Look out for more solid play from this team, the hope of being a little more clinical, and hopefully, that all leads to progression to the knockout phase.
Craig Jones is a freelance NHL writer from the UK, covering the Colorado Avalanche. Watching the NHL from afar, Craig has followed the Avs for more than two decades, and wrote about them for almost one. To get the UK perspective of the NHL and everything Colorado, follow Craig on Twitter @craigjones29.