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.
We caught up with Goldstein following Thursday’s United States-Slovakia contest in which the Americans defeated the Slovaks, 7-1.
FOX SPORTS FLORIDA: I think most pundits expected Team USA to defeat Slovakia, but not in a blowout. What was the catalyst that led to the U.S. being so dominant?
STEVE GOLDSTEIN: The U.S. is an explosive group. Their defensemen can get the puck up the ice in a hurry, fast skilled wingers, like kane and kessel played very well, and they have the toughness to compliment it. Oshie, Backes and Callahan all grind it out and go to the net. The USA is a complete team and that 15 minute stretch in the second period with six goals was as good as it gets.
FS FLORIDA: Up next, host country Russia. Yes, the Cold War is over, but this one has to be pretty anticipated. What’s the buzz like going into this game?
GOLDSTEIN: The buzz for Saturday is already at a fever pitch. The on-ice history is one thing, but the political, non-hockey history between the USA and Russia is well documented. Here in Russia, news outlets are not happy with the way the U.S. media is portraying the Olympics, with the issues and safety. For myself, I think they’ve done a nice job here and I am enjoying the Olympic experience.
FS FLORIDA: What does Team USA have to do to beat an offensively loaded Russian squad?
GOLDSTEIN: I give the U.S. the edge in this game, despite the home ice advantage for Russia. The Americans are such a complete team and the defensemen have a chance to shine in this game. If they can move the puck out of their own zone quickly — which, as a group, they’re very good at — there will be opportunities for the skilled wingers to score.
FS FLORIDA: And the keys to victory for Russia?
GOLDSTEIN: Goaltending is the great equalizer and Russia has two very good ones, who entered these games red hot — Varlamov and Bobrovsky. That’s the key for Russia. If they get great goaltending they can certainly win. They will have a full arena and a whole country rooting for them with great enthusiasm.
You can keep up with Goldstein’s up-to-the-minute coverage from Russia by following him on Twitter at @goldieonice.