2014 Winter Olympics: Which Penguin Olympians have the most to gain and lose

The playoff rounds of the Olympic hockey tournament began Tuesday morning. By Sunday, there is a possibility that a Penguins player or coach will either have a hell of an accomplishment to hang their hat on or a giant disappointment. In fact, it is almost certain.

The Olympic hockey tournament is like a one-night stand. It’s all you can think about at the moment and you’re flying high. When it’s over, though, you’re just glad no one got hurt as you gather your things and head home. 
 
But the lasting effects from the one-night stand will remain. Maybe you got some STD. Maybe you have to make some big-time phone call in a couple months. What happens over these next five or six days will plant the seeds of confidence or doubt in players as the NHL prepares for the homestretch.
 
Here is the breakdown of what the next week means for all the Penguins involved in the Olympics…
 

Dan Bylsma

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We mentioned this before the Olympics, but Dan Bylsma has a ton of pressure on him. And so far he has delivered.

What he has to gain

Bylsma wins gold, and he becomes an American legend. He and Herb Brooks will be mentioned in the same sentence, and not just because they coached the Penguins at one point in their career. And if he does win gold, it should shift the focus of the Pens’ playoff failures to the star players.

What he has to lose

USA is 3-0. They are the favorites in the tournament. Sound familiar? Like it or not, if Team USA looks completely different in these elimination games, questions will arise. We don’t see that happening, though. If we had to bet our lives on it, we would go all-in with Team USA bringing home the gold.
 

Paul Martin

Paul Martin has actually been too good in this tournament.

What he has to gain

Someone will probably name a car dealership after him either way.

What he has to lose

His back from carrying Brooks Orpik.

Brooks Orpik

It was kind of rough watching people defend Brooks Orpik after he got tossed on Pavel Datsyuk's first goal for Russia in the U.S.-Russia game. Some people went so far as to say Brooks Orpik had no blame at all. No idea how that is logical.
 

What he has to gain

USA has hidden Orpik very well so far. The pressure is gonna be on against the elite teams this week. He could gain some respect back with a strong showing.

What he has to lose

He already lost his jock on this play, so he probably has nothing else to lose:

Chris Kunitz

For whatever reason, Kunitz has been a lightning rod for criticism from overzealous Canadian fanboys. Instead of blaming their boyhood idol Steve Yzerman for picking Kunitz in the first place, Kunitz has become the Canadian whipping boy.

What he has to gain

As invisible as he has been thus far, one big goal from Kunitz changes his career and his life.

What he has to lose

His confidence. Kunitz does the small things that teams need to win. And when he is doing that confidently, he is really good. But if Kunitz flames out, it may take him a little while to regain his groove.

Jussi Jokinen

The Finns are a solid team, and Jokinen has been fine.

What he has to gain

Nothing really.

What he has to lose

Still hilarious the Hurricanes are paying half his salary.

Olli Maatta

Maatta has shined on the world stage, adding to his ridiculous rookie season in the NHL.

What he has to gain

If the Finns win gold, Maatta will have something to do with it, and his confidence will skyrocket.

What he has to lose

Not much, unless he kicks in an own goal in OT of the gold-medal game.
 

Evgeni Malkin

Malkin has been silent since registering two points on his first shift of the tourney. He hasn't been terrible, but he hasn't been in sync at all with his Russian linemates.
 

What he has to gain

A gold puts Malkin in rarified air in Russia. There will be stamps and coins made with his likeness on them.
 

What he has to lose

The blame for a flame-out by Russia will be placed at the feet of Malkin, among others. He could also be killed by Putin, which is scary.
 

Sidney Crosby

Had to double-check to make sure he made the team.

What he has to gain

Basically becomes untouchable in Canada. You’d think his golden goal in 2010 would have already made this so, but Canada wants to stay on top of the world.

What he has to lose

If Crosby can't deliver, he'll hear about it for the next four years and maybe forever if the NHL decides to back out of the Olympics. Nah. The golden goal in 2010 gives him immunity for life. Cruise control.

 

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