Olympic Hockey Schedule Features New Format
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:
|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:
|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.
|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:
|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.