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Sochi Winter Olympics 2014: Team USA vs. Slovakia hockey live stream & TV time

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The Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 live stream and televised men's hockey games for Team USA start up on Thursday morning, as Slovakia will be the team's first opponent. The United States team will look to follow up their silver medal Vancouver performance from 2010, with another exciting run towards a gold medal. The latest of the TV and live streaming Olympics coverage will begin early Thursday morning for viewers thanks to NBC sports sources.

According to a Variety report from Feb. 12, the NBC Olympics coverage, albeit pre-recorded for many late night viewers, has been capturing impressive ratings when compared to those from Vancouver four years ago. So far, NBC's average primetime viewership through Tuesday has been 25.9 million, compared to 26.4 million for Vancouver four years ago. NBCUniversal's president of research Alan Wurtzel said with regards to the viewership numbers:

"The headline of this Olympics is that our multi-platform and network strategy has clearly resonated.

We learned in London that the more devices they (viewers) used to consume the Olympics, the more time they watched the Olympics and primetime viewing only went up. This cross-platform viewing is really what the future is going to be. We’re not myopic… we have to be broader than that."

While NBC is showing pre-recorded replays of events, their other channel NBC Sports Network is capturing record ratings for their live coverage. From 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. EST on Tuesday the channel had a "best-ever 1.1 million viewers" during the time slot. It's to be expected that with Team USA men's hockey starting Thursday morning, and with a huge game against host country Russia on Saturday, that trend will continue for the channel. Reportedly, live streaming has also been huge as 600,000 viewers live-streamed Shaun White's snowboarding event this past Monday.

Feb. 13 brings the United States men's hockey team to the ice for their first game of the Sochi Olympics. Jonathan Quick has been tabbed to start as goalie, while many other NHL stars, including Phil Kessler and Patrick Kane, will be a part of the roster. They'll take on a Slovakia team that has 33/1 odds to win the gold medal. Odds for the game have the United States as the larger favorite, although anything is possible on the ice.

In 2010, Team USA had a fantastic run, which culminated in Canada winning 3-2 in the finals. The game was an overtime thriller in Vancouver, thanks to superstar Sidney Crosby from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had the game winner. Zach Parise, part of this 2014 team for the U.S. is back again, and had one of the two goals in the losing effort of that gold medal contest in Vancouver. Now, the United States looks to begin another journey towards gold, this time in Russia. Shades of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York may come to mind for some, as that finals involved Team USA defeating the Soviet Union national team.

Thursday's Team USA vs. Slovakia ice hockey game has a scheduled start time of 7:30 a.m. EST for U.S. viewers. This game will be shown live on NBCSN on cable and satellite TV's around the nation in standard and hi-definition. The game will also be live streaming online, thanks to the NBC Winter Olympics Live Extra website here. This site requires viewers to log in with cable or satellite credentials in order to view the latest live events from Sochi.

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