The preliminary round is complete in the men’s hockey tournament in the Olympics. Teams were sorted into three groups of four teams each. They played a round robin tournament in each group. The winner in each group, plus the best record of the non-winners receive a bye into the quarter-finals. The eight lower finishers must play a qualifying game to make the quarterfinals.
Here are the preliminary round results:
One week into the Olympics and Sergei Kostitsyn is the top scorer in the tournament so far? He has five points in three games so far (granted the top teams have not played their third game yet). Kostitsyn has been in and out of the minors in the NHL. Is this a sign that he has turned the corner and is becoming a solid NHL calibre player?
In 2003, the International Ice Hockey Federation changed its rules. If a player played for a nation in an international tournament, he can change his nationality if he wishes to if he plays for four years in another country where he is a citizen. Thus a player who has dual citizenship can change the nation that he plays for during his career. Potentially this can set up a situation where a country with a significant number of hockey teams (Canada, USA, Russia perhaps) recruits players from other nations to come play with their nation to build a superpower. USA attempted this in the past. They had recruited Tony Esposito, Chico Resch and Bryan Trottier, who are all Canadian born to play for USA in Canada Cup tournaments in the 1980’s.
The preliminary round in the women’s hockey tournament completed yesterday. The women’s tournament is split into two four team groups that played a round robin tournament. After it is completed, the top two teams in each group carry on to the medal round. Winners of each group play second place in the other group in a semi-final and the winners of those games move on to the gold-silver game, while the losers play for bronze and 4th place.
Here are the results:
This is my final look at hot players at the Olympic Break. The top ten forwards by points since January 1st, 2010 are here. The top ten defencemen by points in the same period are here. The surprise is that nine of the top ten defencemen (the only omission is number one scorer Mike Green) are participating in the Olympics, when only six of the top ten forwards are (omissions are Steve Stamkos, Martin St Louis and Tim Connolly by their team’s option and Anze Kopitar since his country did not qualify). One would have expected a higher percentage of forwards to be in the Olympics given that there are more forward spots available and that scoring makes up a more significant portion of a forward`s job.
Today, I will look at the top ten goaltenders, sorted by saves percentage since January 1st, 2010, who have appeared in ten or more NHL games. Here is the list:
Yesterday, I looked at top 10 scorers in 2010 and their Olympic situations and found that four of the top ten scorers in that period will not be in the Olympics. Three of them were omitted because their teams chose to overlook them (Canada - Steve Stamkos and Martin St Louis USA - Tim Connolly) and one because his country did not qualify for the Olympics (Anze Kopitar - Slovenia). Next I looked at the top ten defencemen scorers in that period. The list is below:
In order to get an idea of who the top scoring threats in the Olympics might be, I decided to look at the top ten scorers since the beginning of the year. It is interesting to see which teams have the most top scorers and to see which teams left their potential top scorers off of their rosters.
Here are the top ten scorers since January 1st:
I would love to be able to publish an informed ranking of the twelve teams in the Olympics from first to twelfth, but the weaker teams in the tournament have far too many players on their roster that I either have never seen play or have seen play so rarely that it is hard to make a meaningful assessment of them. I cannot realistically tell you if Latvia is better than Belarus or vice versa. As a result, I will list the teams I think are the top five, with a blurb about each. In a short tournament like the Olympics, upsets will happen. With a small number of games played, those upsets may be significant and it is unlikely that the teams actually finish with strongest on top, second strongest in second. There will be variability in the standings.
Here are my top five predictions:
Over the last few games, one of the hottest teams in the NHL has been the Carolina Hurricanes. The have won nine of their last eleven. That has gone largely unknown because their 24-37 record (with seven regulation tie points) has them in second last place in the East Conference. Carolina is currently nine points out of a playoff spot and that is likely too big a margin to make up in the remainder of the season. The Carolina Hurricanes have recovered from horrible start where several key players were injured and nobody stepped forward to fill their roles.
Over the last eleven games, Carolina has had several very good performers. Jussi Jokinen has 15 points in that stretch. Eric Staal has 13, Ray Whitney has 11, Brandon Sutter has 10 and Joni Pitkanen has nine points. Most of these players were injured earlier in the season. The others are having breakthrough seasons. Jussi Jokinen has 49 points so far this year. That is his highest total since 2006 and is likely to improve by season’s end. Brandon Sutter only had six career points before this season. Their improvement is important to the team and has been significant in the last few months.
In the best of times, American Olympic coverage is not particularly good. They will tape delay events so that they can appear in prime time, when the results of the event are easily found on the internet hours before it is shown on television. Many events are not shown on television if Americans have no realistic chance of medaling. Often significant Olympic stories that do not involve Americans are completely omitted from coverage. Given that track record, it is no surprise that the 2010 Winter Olympic coverage on NBC will not be optimal.
The first major complaint is that the preliminary round hockey game between Canada and USA will not be shown on the main NBC network. Instead it will go to MSNBC. NBC is choosing to show the original dance in the ice dancing competition. Most likely, this will maximize their ratings.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???