Game Times Set for Olympic Hockey Knockout Round's First Stage
After giving careful study to whatever it was the International Ice Hockey Federation felt they needed to study carefully, its Olympic Committee has matched the first knockout round's tournament pairings with time slots.
Boffo TV ratings in the United States -- where shootout specialist TJ Oshie is now called TJ Sochi -- and Canada were probably a key factor. Incidentally, the women's tourney is also collecting mass amounts of eyeballs north of the 49th parallel, and there's surely a hidden clause somewhere in the Canadian constitution that says failure to watch the men's national team is grounds for losing citizenship. Thus, it shouldn't be a surprise the IIHF caters to the North American hockey market.
However and/or whatever, here is the official schedule for the first round of elimination games on Tue 18 Feb with the United States broadcast outlets listed:
|8 v 9||Slovenia v Austria||3.00am||NBCSN|
|5 v 12||Russia v Norway||7.30am||NBCSN|
|6 v 11||Switzerland v Latvia||12.00pm||NBCSN|
|7 v 10||Czech Republic v Slovakia||12.00pm||MSNBC|
The four top seeds now have their game times confirmed for the quarterfinals on Wed 19 Feb, where top seed will play the lowest remaining seed, the second seed will play the second-lowest remaining seed, and so forth. This is where consideration has been given to the best viewing times available for each seed's TV market:
|No 2||United States||12.00pm||NBCSN|
Viewers in North America may be dismayed that their teams have identical game times, but hockey has near-religious status in Scandinavia, too. Expectations in Sweden of Tre Kronor success rivals the pressure Russia has laid on its national team, and Finland still has its junior team's upset championship fresh in mind. Ratings in both countries will continue to be off the charts.
There may well be similar accommodations made for which teams play in what semi-final slots, but obviously, the medal game arrangements are set:
|Fri 21 Feb||Semi-Final No 1||7.00am||NBCSN|
|Fri 21 Feb||Semi-Final No 2||12.00pm||NBCSN|
|Sat 22 Feb||Bronze Medal game||10.00am||NBCSN|
|Sat 22 Feb||Gold Medal game||7.00am||NBC|
If the chalk holds on Tuesday, the most intriguing quarterfinal game looks to be Canada v Switzerland. With a similar defensive philosophy to Finland and a top-shelf goaltender in Jonas Hiller, the Swiss will pose a similar challenge to the Canadians to what they faced against the Finns. The key was getting offensive production from their blueline, where Drew Doughty -- with two goals against Finland -- and Shea Weber were especially up to the task.
But every team has now had an opportunity to draw the measure of its own performance as well as studying how its prospective opponents are trending. Those notes will be the order of business in the various practices today.