Sunday, February 19, 2006

Men's Hockey Olympics Overanalysis

The scheduling of men's' hockey games has been a little bit inconvenient for us North Americans. So far, I've been successful in catching all of the Team Canada games by taping the games, and watching them when I get home from work in the evening. I'm frustrated at the possibility of missing the quarterfinals and semifinals, since all six games take place during the work day. Depending on when Canada/Finland plays in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, I might try to go in to work at 5:00 AM on those days, so I can watch the game from home in the afternoon. If it's a 10:30 or 11:30 AM start, I'll plan on taping the game, and watching it when I get home in the evening

The schedules won't be determined until Tuesday afternoon, since it depends on the final round-robin positions. Finland is almost guaranteed to take the #1 seed in group A, pending a win over Germany, and will play the #4 seed in Group B, which is almost certainly going to be USA. My guess is that game will be at 3:30 PM, because USA seems to always get the preferred time slot to allow Americans a chance to get home from work to catch the 3rd period.

If Canada loses against the Czechs on Tuesday, they'll be the #4 seed, which means they'll play either Slovakia or Sweden, depending on who wins the Sweden/Slovakia game. If Canada wins against the Czechs, they will most likely get the #3 seed, as I'm guessing Switzerland will beat Italy to take the #2 seed. With the #3 seed, they will play the #2 seed in group B, meaning they will face one of Slovakia, Russia, or Sweden. My guess is Canada will get the 2:30 PM time slot on Wednesday no matter what happens, based on the same reasoning as I mentioned above to determine Team USA's time slot.

Based on the reasoning above, here is my guess at the final round-robin standings:

Group A

#1 Finland 5-0
#2 Switzerland 3-1-1
#3 Canada 3-2
#4 Czech Republic 2-3

(Out: Italy (0-1-4) and Germany (0-2-3))

Group B

#1 Slovakia 5-0
#2 Russia 4-1
#3 Sweden 3-2
#4 USA 1-3-1

(Out: Latvia (1-3-1) and Kazakhstan (0-5))

***Note: Latvia is not mathematically eliminated yet. If Latvia wins against Kazakhstan, and USA loses to Russia, of which there is a very good possibility, they will finish with identical 1-3-1 records. Since USA and Latvia tied when they played each other, the tie-breaker will be decided based on goal differential. Since USA is +1 and Latvia -15, a sixteen goal swing needs to take place. The odds of this are about one in a million. Latvia plays at 5:30 in the morning on Tuesday, while the USA-Russia game is at 2:30 in the afternoon. If Latvia, which has scored a total of 9 goals in the tournament, manages to pile on the offense, and blow out Kazakhstan 10-0, they get to wait until the afternoon, and hope that Russia defeats USA by at least six goals. Again, the odds of this are about one in a million, so there isn't much point in even mentioning it, but I'm all about trivial pursuits.

Based on these standings, the quarterfinals schedule should look something like this:

Quarterfinals (Wednesday)

Quarterfinals, 10:30 am et (My Guess is Switzerland vs. Sweden)
Quarterfinals, 11:30 am et (My Guess is Slovakia vs. Czech Republic)
Quarterfinals, 2:30 pm et (My guess is Canada Vs. Russia)
Quarterfinals, 3:30 pm et
(My Guess is Finland vs. USA)

Semi-Finals (Friday)

Semifinal, 10:30 am et (I'll pencil in Finland vs. Sweden)
Semifinal, 3 pm et (I'll pencil in Canada vs. Slovakia)

Bronze Medal Game (Saturday)

Men: Bronze Medal, 2:30 pm et (Sweden vs. Slovakia)

Gold Medal Game (Sunday)

Men: Gold Medal, 8 am et (Canada vs. Finland)