Sunday, February 21, 2010

How the Olympic hockey format works

For the curious, here's how the men's hockey format works at the Olympics (courtesy of the IIHF).

I may offer a more extensive runthrough of how this works later today, but in a nutshell, the top four teams after today's games will move on to the top four spots in the quarter-finals. Teams five through 12, meanwhile, will play a "bonus" game, with the winners of that one moving on and the losers going home ranked 9th to 12th.

If, for example, Sweden, Russia, Canada and the U.S. end up as the top four, Finland, the Czechs, Slovaks, etc., will face some of the lowly teams (Latvia, Norway, Germany) that didn't win a game for the right to move on. The No. 1 ranked team will face the winner of the 8th v. 9th game, which looks like it'll be between Switzerland and Belarus, in the quarter-final, while teams ranked No. 2 through 4 will likely get a somewhat difficult opponent in the quarters.

One other twist is the fact that that "bonus" game is played on Tuesday and the quarter-finals on Wednesday, meaning teams without the top four bye will have to play two must-win games back-to-back.  

Things are definitely about to get interesting.



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