The Olympics are in full swing right now and the storylines are plentiful. For many sports fans though, the marquee event is the men’s hockey tournament and their games get underway Wednesday. If you want previews for the teams, here you are:
Here is the layout and qualification processes for the tournament:
- Three pools of four teams: Pool A: Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States; Pool B: Austria, Canada, Norway, Finland; Pool C: Czech Republic, Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland
- Each team plays every other team in their pool. Each pool-winner gets an automatic bye into the quarter-finals, along with the second-best team overall among the non-group winners (call them a wild card).
- The eight remaining teams face off in four qualifying games with the four winners going to the quarter-finals and the four losers battling it out for relegation.
- From then on, it’s a simple quarter-finals -> semi-finals -> finals format with a gold medal and bronze medal game.
While some teams are certainly favored – Canada, Russia, Sweden, United States – there’s a long history of upsets and unpredictable winners:
- The first Olympics featuring NHL players in 1998 was won by the Czech Republic on the back of a marvelous goaltending performance by Dominik Hasek. Once the group stage over, it’s a one-game knockout the whole way. Anything can happen in one-game eliminations.
- In 2002, Belarus beat the heavily favored Swedish team in the quarter-finals to eliminate the team that went 3-0 in the group stage and outscored their opponents 14-4 (and beat Canada). How big of an underdog was Belarus? They lost their semi-final game 7-1 and their bronze medal game 7-2.
- In 2006, the United States finished eighth in the tournament, one spot ahead of Kazakhstan, while Canada finished seventh, one spot behind Switzerland.
- In 2010, Russia qualified as one of the top three group winners only to lose in the quarter-finals 7-3 to the eventual gold medal winners in Canada.
In other words, though there might be favorites at the tournament, there is nothing that is a given when you talk about one-game eliminations.
In an effort to try to bring readers and followers more Olympic coverage, and hopefully be around for upsets, XN Sports will be doing live chats for certain men’s hockey games during the Olympics. I’ll be hosting and moderating these chats and will be bringing in certain guests to chat along with me.
Are you on the West Coast and up in the middle of the night waiting for the US games to come on and want to talk hockey? There’s a chat for that.
Sitting at your desk at lunch and want to take in some hockey for the games that start at Noon Eastern time? There’s a chat for that.
Up early on the weekends with the kids and you’re stuck watching Saturday morning cartoons? There’s a chat for that.
In addition to the live chats, Jimmy Murphy will be adding his take to the days’ biggest stories and games, so be sure to check ‘Murph’s Musings’ on this site regularly once the hockey tournament starts Wednesday.
If you want to talk some hockey during the games, or you just want to ask questions about line combinations, line matching, how certain players are looking, we’ll have a live chat available for the following games (times in Eastern):
|Wed. Feb 12 – Czech Republic vs. Sweden|
|Thu. Feb 13 – USA vs. Slovakia||Thu. Feb 13 – Canada vs. Norway|
|Fri. Feb 14 – Sweden vs. Switzerland||Fri. Feb 14 – Canada vs. Austria|
|Sat. Feb 15 – USA vs. Russia||Sat. Feb 15 – Czech Republic vs. Switzerland|
|Sun. Feb 16 – Russia vs. Slovakia||Sun. Feb 16 – Canada vs. Finland|
After the round robin finishes on Sunday, seeding will be determined for qualification games on Tuesday and another schedule of games that will be live-chatted will be submitted then.
So join us for the best hockey tournament in the world and come cheer on your country!