Olympic tournament turns NHL teammates into international opponents

Reporting
from Vancouver, Canada – Eighteen members of Team Canada will face NHL
teammates Sunday when Canada plays the U.S. in the teams’ final
preliminary-round game of the Olympic hockey tournament, and the Kings
and Ducks are well-represented in that large group.



Winger Dustin Brown and defenseman Jack Johnson of the Kings and Team
USA will face defenseman Drew Doughty of Canada, who’s not only a
teammate, but also Brown’s roommate.

Winger Bobby Ryan and defenseman Ryan Whitney of the Ducks and Team USA
will face defenseman Scott Niedermayer and forwards Corey Perry and
Ryan Getzlaf of Canada. Ryan, who gained the upper hand on teammate
Jonas Hiller by scoring against him during Team USA’s victory over
Switzerland, is hoping to gain more ammunition for locker-room
discussions.

“National pride being on the line is the main factor, but I know going
back to that room in Anaheim I’d love to have bragging rights on the
three of them,” Ryan said Saturday.

“I love the fact that I can get on Hillsy all year about scoring that
goal, and I’m sure it’s something that will be talked about in the
room.”

Perry said he considers it fun to play against NHL teammates in
international tournaments. He’s going to try to prevent Ryan from
having anything else to brag about.

“You’re playing for your country, so you’re not going to let up, that’s
for sure,” Perry said. “If he’s in your way, you’re going to go through
him.

“I’m sure it would be great to score, but we’re a team game and we’ve
got to go out and play our game and not let him score against us.”

He has done his part in that regard by offering Canada’s coaching staff a scouting report on Ryan.

“Bobby is a big kid. He has good hands and can shoot the puck,” Perry
said. “He’s a guy that has deceptive speed, and he can beat anybody
one-on-one.”

Brown said he and Doughty have talked about this game since they knew they would be opponents.

“I’m sure he’s going to have his head up for me, and vice versa,” Brown said.

Asked who would get the first hit in, he smiled.

“We’ll see if we even get on the ice against each other,” Brown said.
“Most likely he will. I might just chip it in every time I’m on the ice
with him.”

Johnson said he doesn’t find it strange to play against his NHL teammates.

“Once we throw on our country’s jerseys, they’re not teammates at all.
Not one bit,” he said. “They’re just playing for the other country and
they’re the enemy.”

Another clash of titans

The final game of Sunday’s tripleheader is a rematch of the 2006
Olympic gold-medal game between Sweden and Finland, won by the Swedes.
Both teams are 2-0 in Group C play, but Finland has a better goal
differential. The Finns have scored 10 goals and given up one, while
Sweden has scored six and given up two.

“At this point, this game means more than usual in a round robin
because the first in each group gets passed to the quarters, and that’s
what both teams are looking for,” Ducks and Finland center Saku Koivu
said.

“It’s a big rivalry. That’s a game that you hate to lose. The last time
I played against those guys in Torino, we all know what happened there.”

Ducks winger Teemu Selanne said he and his Finnish teammates know all too well how good the Swedes are.

“It’s funny,” Selanne said. “I don’t know one bad Swedish guy, but I
want to beat them as a team. They’re like big brothers, and you always
want to beat your big brother.

“We want to play our best game and hopefully they’re going to play also
because when you beat somebody, you want to beat them when the other
team is in their prime, too. It’s going to be a big one.”

A defense like . . . Swiss cheese

Switzerland gave up more goals to Norway on Saturday than it did to
Canada or the U.S. earlier in round-robin play, and if you don’t
understand the logic in that, we’ll let Hiller explain.

“It’s tough to play that kind of game when you don’t get the shots,”
said Hiller, who faced four shots in the first period of Switzerland’s
5-4 overtime victory over Norway.

“They had lots of free shots from the slot. We lost our guy in our zone quite often.”

Switzerland finished the preliminary round with three points after one overtime win, one shootout loss and one regulation loss.

Kings center Michal Handzus scored a beautiful unassisted goal and had
two assists as Slovakia defeated Latvia, 6-0. Slovakia, in Group B,
finished preliminary-round play with a regulation win, a regulation
loss and an overtime win, good for five points. Former King Jozef
Stumpel had a goal and two assists, and former King Ziggy Palffy had an
assist.

helene.elliott@latimes.com