Slovakia 4 Germany 0
Denmark 3 Latvia 2
Canada 7 PR China 2
Czech Republic 2 Switzerland 4
Slovakia proved once again that they ate elite against teams in the lower half of the tournament. But, they still have yet to prove they can compete and win nonetheless, against teams in the top half of the tournament. Germany will be very disappointed with their performance in another Olympics which did not feature NHL players. Given how good Germany’s league is, Germany was expected to do better with this advantage. Germany finished 4th in the 2021 World Championship with NHL players even, so this is a set back for the 2018 Silver Medalists.
Denmark had a close call but if you would have turned Denmark before the tournament that they would have 3 wins by their 4th game, and would still be in the tournament, the Danish would be really happy. The Danes keep performing well. The Latvians performed well against Sweden and Finland, but against the lesser team of Slovakia, they performed bad. Now, they had another chance against a nation playing very well and almost won this game. The game was tied 2-2 in the 3rd period. Still, the Latvians were supposed to be better than the Danes so even if Denmark has been playing very well, it was still expected Latvia would win to start the tournament.
Canada won another game against the host nation, PR China, and again by 5 goals! The Canadians had their best scoring night of the tournament with 7 goals, but gave up 2 goals to PR China. PR China is playing better, but still, Canada should probably have a better scoreline if they are Gold Medal contenders. Yet, it is ice hockey and it is Canada, so Canada is still a favorite. PR China did well to get the score to 1-2 at the end of the 1st Period. But, the 2nd Period saw the Canadians score 3 goals in a row! The PR Chinese scored 1 goal in this period after to bring the score to 2-5. PR China would not have a great 3rd Period losing 0-2 in the period. Still, a 2-7 loss in the way they did it, is actually an improvement for PR China. Unfortunately, as of now, they have opted out of the 2022 World Championship, but with more competition, PR China could become a regular, especially with their KHL experience for their players.
Switzerland finally showed up after losing all games, with 1 of those being a shootout loss. Switzerland went up 1-0 early, followed by a Czech goal to make it 1-1. But, less than a minute later, and the Swiss made it 2-1! The 2nd Period was close, but the Swiss scored 1 more goal toward the middle of this period to make it a 3-1 Swiss lead. The 3rd Period saw another close encounter until the Swiss scored with 5 minutes and 3 seconds left in the game to make the score 4-1 for the Swiss! The Czechs would score almost a minute later to make it 2-4, but that was it. The Swiss would win their 1st game at the 2022 Winter Olympics Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament! The Swiss will be happy to have such a good performance over a Czech side that was improving into their usual high level of play. The Swiss can beat any team at the tournament, but just have not until their win over the Czechs in the Playoffs Round. The Czechs will be disappointed after winning 2 straight, including a win over the Russian Olympic Committee in their previous game before this elimination, albeit all in overtime/shootouts. If you would have told the Czechs they would beat the Swiss and Russians in the Group, the Czechs, as well as everyone else (except maybe the Danish, but probably the Danish as well) would have thought the Czechs won their Group and had a bye in this round. But, a loss to Denmark started this tournament off, and a loss to the Swiss the 2nd time around ensured the Czechs would never reach the round they would have been expected to have received a bye to given their wins over Switzerland and the Russian Olympic Committee in their Group. The Czechs have now failed to reach the Quarterfinals in the 2021 World Championship and 2022 Winter Olympics.
16 February (PR China time):
USA verse Slovakia
Russian Olympic Committee verse Denmark
Finland verse Switzerland
Sweden verse Canada
USA are 3-0-0-0 with the most points and best goal differential. Their Group may have been easy or may have been hard. But, their team outperformed everyone there and did what they were supposed to, beat everyone on their schedule. Now the USA plays Slovakia, and the USA has no guarantees. The knockout rounds are not only pressuring, but are also filled with talent. Given the USA had a break, while some may say that took them off their grove, it most likely did not because it was only a 2 day break. The USA has a very young team who plays with speed, physicality, skill, and lots of energy. While their technique and finishing abilities, plus their attack on power plays is not always there, this break is a good thing for them because they got to rest their bodies to play their youthful way again, while getting extra time to work on this technique and strategy needed to finish and to score on power plays. The Slovakians have been very good against nations in the lower half of this tournament like Latvia and Germany, but have been atrocious against nations in the upper half of this tournament like Finland and Sweden. The USA should win against Slovakia by 3+ goals. But, the USA will have to play focused! Slovakia is no easy opponent. The USA is just really good.
The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) is 2-0-1-0 having had 2 close wins and 1 overtime loss to the Czechs. One of these wins came against the Danes where the ROC won 2-0! It was 0-0 after the 1st Period, 1-0 after the 2nd, and then, with 6 seconds left and an empty net, the ROC scored to make it 2-0 in the 3rd Period. In other words, the ROC had a very close game with the Danish. The ROC also had a close 1-0 win with the Swiss. Originally, this was supposed to mean the ROC was elite defensively. But then, a 5-6 loss to the Czechs signaled this was no longer the case. For Denmark, they had a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic to start off their Group play, where they scored 2 goals in the 1st Period, and then the Czechs scored 1 later on in the 1st Period. It seems as if the Danes got a lucky start. Then, Denmark’s close loss to the ROC suggested that maybe, Denmark had an elite defense and horrible offense. But then, Denmark defeated Switzerland 5-3 to close out their Group play, and then just beat Latvia 3-2. Denmark appears to be well balanced. The ROC are the favorites in this game, but Denmark are now playing better. The break for the ROC was probably too long and the Danish win has given Denmark lots of confidence. The ROC should win by 1 goal. But, it will be very close and could go either way.
Finland is an elite scoring team, while the Swiss are generally, an elite defensive team. The last 2 games have not proved they true for the Swiss though, as they have given up 7 goals! The Finish will expect to exploit this gaping hole in the Swiss defense like Swiss cheese. But, the Finish themselves have not been great defensively and the Swiss are now doing better offensively with 7 goals from their past 2 games. However, the Finish have the better offense, and Finland should be able to outscore Switzerland. Finland should win by 2 goals.
Sweden has been a favorite even more than Canada for this tournament the whole time. Sweden improved this advantage over Canada after Group play. Sweden’s only loss was a 3-4 loss to Finland in overtime. But, that loss came after a 3-0 Swedish lead. Canada may not be their best team, but Canada is still Canada and in ice hockey, it is crucial to put the Canadians away. While Finland is better, if the Swedish do not think they can actually keep a lead against Canada, they will probably talk themselves into making mistakes. But, with the bye, the Swedish probably have more confidence now after watching film of what they did wrong. Sweden is the better team and should win by 1 goal.
- Russian Olympic Committee
- Czech Republic
- PR China
For more information on the teams following Group play, check out: