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2018 Men’s Olympic Hockey: schedule, format and preview

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When and how to watch, and who you’ll be seeing at this year’s Olympics.

2018 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

With the Olympics already underway, and the women’s hockey tournament deep into the preliminary round, it’s time to take a look at the men’s tournament.

As you’ve likely already learned, Pyeongchang, South Korea is 14 hours ahead of Toronto time. That means that if a game is on in the evening there it’s very early morning here. This works out fine if you have nothing to do with your mornings but watch hockey. It does get tricky with the games on in the afternoon in Pyeongchang.

To get you started, this is the preliminary round schedule with the game times as per the IIHF website, and also converted to Eastern Standard Time.

2018 Men’s Olympic Hockey preliminary round schedule

Day Local Time ESTime Home Away
Day Local Time ESTime Home Away
Feb 14 9:10 PM Feb 14 7:10 AM Slovakia OAR(Russia)
Feb 14 9:10 PM Feb 14 7:10 AM USA Slovenia
Feb 15 12:10 PM Feb 14 10:10 PM Finland Germany
Feb 15 9:10 PM Feb 15 7:10 AM Switzerland Canada
Feb 15 4:40 PM Feb 15 2:40 AM Norway Sweden
Feb 15 9:10 PM Feb 15 7:10 AM Czechia Korea
Feb 16 12:10 PM Feb 15 10:10 PM USA Slovakia
Feb 16 9:10 PM Feb 16 7:10 AM Sweden Germany
Feb 16 4:40 PM Feb 16 2:40 AM OAR Slovenia
Feb 16 9:10 PM Feb 16 7:10 AM Finland Norway
Feb 17 12:10 PM Feb 16 10:10 PM Canada Czechia
Feb 17 9:10 PM Feb 17 7:10 AM Slovenia Slovakia
Feb 17 4:40 PM Feb 17 2:40 AM Korea Switzerland
Feb 17 9:10 PM Feb 17 7:10 AM OAR USA
Feb 18 12:10 PM Feb 17 10:10 PM Germany Norway
Feb 18 9:10 PM Feb 18 7:10 AM Sweden Finland
Feb 18 4:40 PM Feb 18 2:40 AM Czechia Switzerland
Feb 18 9:10 PM Feb 18 7:10 AM Canada Korea

Format

The men’s tournament has a totally different format to the women’s as well as more teams. To begin, the teams are sorted into three groups, not the usual two that we have at World Championships.

Group A

Canada
Czech Republic
Switzerland
Korea

Group B

OAR (Russia)
USA
Slovakia
Slovenia

Group C

Sweden
Finland
Norway
Germany

Now, if you look back at the schedule, the fact that each team only plays three games makes a little more sense. All teams advance from the preliminary round. The purpose of it is to rank the teams, and they are ranked based on:

  • Group ranking
  • Points
  • Goal differential
  • Goals for
  • 2017 IIHF World Ranking

This is international rules hockey, so a regulation win is three points, an overtime or shootout win is two points, and an overtime or shootout loss is one point.

Once the seeding is done out of the preliminary round, the top four teams get a bye into the quarterfinals and get home ice advantage in their quarterfinal game. The remaining eight teams play in qualifying games on February 20, which cut their number in half, with the four winning teams going to the quarterfinals which are all played on February 21.

The semifinals and medal games follow, with the gold medal game taking place in the afternoon Pyeongchang time on February 25. That makes the game time Saturday, February 24 at 11:10 PM in Toronto.

We’ll put up a schedule for the various levels of elimination rounds as we know who is in which game.

How to watch

The games can be streamed in Canada from the CBC site. Go to the Olympic Hockey Men’s schedule to get started.

To find the Canadian TV schedule, go to the CBC’s schedule page and pick the right day and time. The Olympics are streamed and broadcast by NBC in the USA.

Who’s winning this thing?

Most people will tell you that Russia has the gold medal in the bag. Canada, Sweden and the USA have decent teams, however, and should all get deep in the tournament. Canada has what looks like the easiest preliminary group, and should finish on top and with a bye to the quarters. So should Sweden as long as they handle Finland well. The tricky group is the one with both Russia and the USA.

Some team is going to get that fourth bye by having the most points of second place teams, and it might not be the second place team in Group B. One of those two teams might need to a qualifying game to advance.

There are some dark horses who can throw a wrench in the plans of the top teams. The Czech Republic can use their usual superior team play to knock out a better team, and Finland might surprise everyone.

The only really sure thing is that Korea is going to be completely outclassed. Norway, without their two NHL-contracted top players in Mats Zuccarello and Andreas Martinsen should also struggle to win any games, but Germany, in the same group, might not be much better. Slovenia will be remembered for the shade of green of their jerseys, and not much else.

Have you already forgotten who’s on the teams?

You could be forgiven. Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk are the biggest stars at the event, but there’s some other familiar names. The official team index on the IIHF site will get you started on the game of “Oh, I know him...”

You do know some of those guys. On Team Canada is Ben Scrivens, Brandon Kozun and Mason Raymond. There are other former NHL players culled from the European leagues as well, much like the US team. The big difference with the Americans is they’ve added several young college prospects. Meanwhile, the Russians filled their roster out of two KHL teams and are lacking in much youth.

All of this makes this tournament very difficult to predict. Canada’s opening game on Thursday morning Toronto time against Switzerland should give us a hint at how the team will do.