Olympic Hockey Schedule Features New Format

Published on 11-Feb-2014 by J Square Humboldt
NHL / NHL Daily Update

Nothing is sacred in Olympic hockey.

Hockey gold in the Sochi Olympics is giving a chance -- über-remote, but a chance nonetheless -- for every team in the tournament to have a puncher's shot at winning it.

OK, the puncher had better log a telling blow in every round, but as in all playoff competitions, the format allows hope to spring eternal.

The tournament involves 12 teams split into three pools, with placements based on the IIHF world rankings. Frankly, the purpose of the pools is to determine the preliminary round match-ups. Those results will determine the bracket seedings for knockout play, with the top four teams getting first-round byes.

Here's the opening round schedule, complete with the American broadcast outlets:

Date Teams Time (EST) TV
Wed 12 Feb Czech Republic v Sweden 12.00pm USA
Wed 12 Feb Latvia v Switzerland 12.00pm MSNBC
Thu 13 Feb Finland v Austria   3.00am NBCSN
Thu 13 Feb Russia v Slovenia   7.30am MSNBC
Thu 13 Feb Slovakia v USA   7.30am NBCSN
Thu 13 Feb Canada v Norway 12.00pm USA
Fri 14 Feb Czech Republic v Latvia   3.00am MSNBC
Fri 14 Feb Sweden v Switzerland   7.30am NBCSN
Fri 14 Feb Canada v Austria 12.00pm USA
Fri 14 Feb Norway v Finland 12.00pm MSNBC
Sat 15 Feb Slovakia v Slovenia   3.00am MSNBC
Sat 15 Feb USA v Russia   7.30am NBCSN
Sat 15 Feb Switzerland v Czech Republic 12.00pm NBCSN
Sat 15 Feb Sweden v Latvia 12.00pm USA
Sun 16 Feb Austria v Norway   3.00am USA
Sun 16 Feb Russia v Slovakia   7.30am USA
Sun 16 Feb Slovenia v USA   7.30am NBCSN
Sun 16 Feb Finland v Canada 12.00pm USA

After the top four seeds are given their byes in the playoff round, the rest are seeded as such: 5 v 12, 6 v 11, 7 v 10, and 8 v 9. Here are the criteria, in order of priority, that determine the seedings:

  • highest position in their respective groups
  • higher number of points
  • better goal difference
  • higher number of goals scored
  • better 2013 IIHF World Ranking

The actual game slots and venues for the first knockout round will be determined after these considerations are made. Here's the schedule:

Date Teams Time TV
Tue 18 Feb Tourney Game 19                3.00am NBCSN
Tue 18 Feb Tourney Game 20   7.30am NBCSN
Tue 18 Feb Tourney Game 21 12.00pm NBCSN
Tue 18 Feb Tourney Game 22 12.00pm MSNBC

The four top seeds enter the fray for the quarterfinals, with the pairings based on the original bracket seedings. Thus, the top seed will face the lowest remaing seed, the second seed will face the second-lowest remaining seed, and so forth. Again, the acutal game slots and venues will be determined after their considerations are made.

Date Teams Time TV
Wed 19 Feb Tourney Game 23                3.00am NBCSN
Wed 19 Feb Tourney Game 24   7.30am NBCSN
Wed 19 Feb Tourney Game 25 12.00pm USA
Wed 19 Feb Tourney Game 24 12.00pm NBCSN

All of this leads to the grand finale:

Date Teams Time TV
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

The favorites are the usual suspects: Russia, Canada, the USA, and Sweden. Top underdogs Finland and the Czech Republic have pieces missing, but as the Finns showed in the recently completed World Junior Championships, their wealth of goalies can literally steal games in bunches. The Czechs are flat-out tenacious, hoping the ancient warrior Jaromir Jagr's will to win rubs off on the team.

And with this format, hope will spring eternal.

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