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
|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|
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.
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
- 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.