Reporting from Vancouver, Canada — Switzerland's men's hockey team has been eliminated from the Olympic tournament, but its players' performances have not been forgotten.
Defenseman Luca Sbisa, who was acquired by the Ducks last summer in the Chris Pronger trade and is playing junior hockey with Portland of the Western Hockey League, and goaltender Jonas Hiller earned widespread praise for their performances.
Perhaps the most important praise came from Ducks General Manager Bob Murray, who made the difficult but sensible decision to send Sbisa back to the junior level early this season.
Sbisa, who turned 20 a few weeks ago, suffered a broken and badly cut finger when he blocked a shot in the first period of Switzerland's 2-0 loss to the U.S. on Wednesday. But he insisted on returning in the second period and finished the game, the kind of determination that coaches and general managers love to see.
"For such a young player he played very well. He didn't look out of place at all," Murray said Thursday. "I also thought he showed great heart and determination playing with his injury yesterday. He had a great tournament."
Hiller, who beat out Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the Ducks' starting job last season and retained the job this season, had a 2.47 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in five games in the Olympics. Of the 13 goals he gave up, five were scored during opponents' power plays.
"He played very well. He kept the Swiss in every game and gave them an opportunity to upset both Canada and the U.S.," Murray said.
Switzerland's exit leaves 12 Ducks and Kings eligible for Friday's semifinals, which match the U.S. against Finland and Canada against Slovakia.
The Kings will be represented by defenseman Drew Doughty of Canada; defenseman Jack Johnson, winger Dustin Brown and goalie Jonathan Quick of the U.S.; and center Michal Handzus of Slovakia.
The Ducks will be represented by center Ryan Getzlaf, winger Corey Perry and defenseman Scott Niedermayer of Canada; defenseman Ryan Whitney and winger Bobby Ryan of the U.S.; and winger Teemu Selanne and center Saku Koivu of Finland.
Johnson said he doesn't expect the U.S. to be surprised by anything Finland does because so many of its players come from the NHL.
"They're a great team. They've proven it to get this far. It should be a heck of a game," he said.
"They've got great speed. They're a transition team and a tough team. It's going to be a great game. There are no secrets or tricks to it. It's going to be two NHL teams going at it."
They probably will be going at a high tempo and will throw in more than a few hits.
"They're not going to back away from physical play, and we don't expect them to," Johnson said. "It will be a hard-fought game all the way through. It will be a fast-paced game."
Despite being booed by fans here who remember his late and questionable hit on Canada's Steve Downie in the 2005 world junior championships, Johnson said he is enjoying his experience along with his teammates.
"The hockey's great. It's by far a faster pace than the NHL," he said. "When you have the best players in the world playing all these games and it's a Game 7 every game, this is the biggest stage most of us have played on.
"We're not looking at it as pressure. We're having fun. I feel honored to be in the Olympic Games. We're just putting our best foot forward."