The Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games starts tonight. Technically tomorrow since it starts around 1am our time. In this post I will be doing a preview of the tournament. There will be 12 teams in the tournament. There has been a lot of talk around China and their team. Their team is basically a KHL team.
The format of this tournament is odd. The IIHF always outdoes itself by making things as complex as possible. There are 12 teams in 3 groups of 4. There is a group stage and an elimination stage. In the group stage teams will play a game against everyone in their group. It looks like the group stage is just for seeding into the elimination stage. It doesn’t look like any team will be eliminated in the group stage. The elimination stage is single game elimination. The winners of each group will move on to the Quarterfinals. The highest ranked second place team (basically the 4th place team in the overall standings) will move on to the Quarterfinals as well. All of the remaining teams will play in a “qualification round”. The winners of the “qualification round” will move on to the Quarterfinals. The elimination games continue until the gold and bronze medal games are set.
In Group A is Canada, the United States, Germany and China. In Group B is ROC (Russia), Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Denmark. In Group C is Finland, Sweden, Slovakia, and Latvia. Slovakia and Latvia are the only teams not to have teams in the Women’s tournament.
Below are the IIHF power rankings. The IIHF threw some shade at China with these. Roc (Russia) is first. They are basically KHL all stars. Finland is in second. Canada comes in third. The USA is all the way in 6th. China is at the bottom.
I think both ROC (Russia) and Finland are ranked too high. I think the AHL all stars could beat the KHL all stars. I think USA is ranked way too low. Canada should be ranked first. They have Eric Staal on their team. At this point though since no games have been played it is kind of a guessing game.
Here are the rosters. Notably China is basically a KHL team. Canada and the United States will have to play without NHL talent. USA Hockeys answer to this was to build both the Men’s and Women’s teams with as much former NCAA talent. The USA rosters for both the mens and women’s teams are basically big advertisements for NCAA hockey. The best players in the world are not at this tournament. Canada did manage to grab Eric Staal though. He’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s been an NHL All-Star MVP. He’s played over 1,000 NHL games. He won gold in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. He will be Captain Canada for this tournament. I think he will help evaluate Canada to a lot. There are plenty of former NHLers though.
The Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament of the XXIV Olympic Winter Games starts with a game between Japan and the Czech Republic. That game will be at 12:40am PTS tonight. Sweden and Denmark will follow that game. At the Same time Finland will play ROC (Russia). The second two games will be at 5am PST.