Chillin' in Sochi: Steve Goldstein checks in from Olympics
FEB 12, 2014 10:15a ET
Florida Panthers play-by-play announcer Steve Goldstein is in Sochi, Russia, to cover the men's and women's Olympic hockey tournaments for Westwood One radio.
FOXSportsFlorida.com caught up with Goldstein after he settled in at the 2014 Winter Games:
FS Florida: The photos of Sochi -- the mountains, the buildings -- look beautiful. Have you found a favorite spot in the Olympic village yet?
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: I have only been between my hotel, the hockey arenas and the International Broadcast Center, so I have not found any favorite places besides my broadcast location at the two rinks. Time just isn't available!
FSF: Is there more of an excitement in the air around the ice dome and village now that NHL players have arrived in Sochi?
GOLDSTEIN: The players are all really excited to get this thing started. All I have spoken to have rested up, soaked in what they say is a great Olympic setup here in Sochi -- better than they thought it would be based on many reports back home leading up to the games. So there is definitely an air of anticipation and excitement.
FSF: The Russian media must be ecstatic to see some of their own stars back on home soil. One reporter tweeted a photo of a pile of reporters trying to speak with Alex Ovechkin after Monday's practice. Do you sense how much pressure the Russians are facing to win the gold medal in Olympic hockey? Is is more than what the Canadians faced in 2010?
GOLDSTEIN: The pressure on the Russians is similar to that of Canada in 2010, especially since in Vancouver the Russian team played poorly and did not medal. The entire country -- and it's a huge one! -- is focused on the men's hockey team winning a gold medal. There is so much pride going way back to the 1950s in the sport here in Russia.
FSF: The women's tournament is already under way, with the United States and Canada posting two wins apiece. Is there a team capable of pulling an upset of the United States or Canada? Or are those rivals headed for another collision course?
GOLDSTEIN: There is no question, on the women's side it's all about the USA and Canada. Finland stayed close with both teams, but these two will play for the gold barring a miracle upset. It's a great rivalry. The two teams genuinely dislike each other! The drama on the ice will be great to watch.
FSF: Team USA's men's team plays its first game Feb. 13. What's your take on the team? Are they an underdog despite having medaled during the last Olympics and the 2013 World Championship?
GOLDSTEIN: I am picking the USA men to win the gold. Ryan Miller or Jonathan Quick can get it done as the team's goalie. Miller will get the chance to prove he's the man -- as he was the 2010 MVP -- despite the U.S. winning silver, not the gold medal.
The combination of returning players that came painfully close to the gold medal in 2010, losing to Canada in the final game in overtime, and the new players will prove to be the key. Half the defense is new, and all are young, smart, can move the puck and have an offensive flair. Ryan McDonough of the New York Rangers is my pick to emerge as an impact player. Cam Fowler, too.
Up front the wingers are better than they were four years ago. Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane and Zach Parise are now older, smarter and better players than they were in 2010. In the middle David Backes is a workhorse as the top center.
I also love the coach, Dan Bylsma. He knows how to handle star players. I'm going with a rematch of the 2010 gold medal game, but this time the U.S. beats Canada.
You can keep up with Goldstein's up-to-the-minute coverage from Russia by following him on Twitter at @goldieonice.