Olympic Hockey: Seeding Scenarios For Sunday Morning

What an exciting start to the Olympic Hockey Tournament! This morning’s (well morning in the States — evening at the venue) US/Russia game was another Olympic thriller and sets Team USA up very nicely for the single elimination round … provided the US takes care of business against Slovenia tomorrow. And a major congrats to Team Slovenia on its first Olympic win, a 3-1 upset over Slovakia.

As we enter the final day of Group Play games, here’s what we know.
1) All 12 teams advance to the Single Elimination phase regardless of record in Group Play.
 2) Team Sweden won Group C and will be seeded either No. 1 or No. 2 in the Elimination Round, depending on the results of the Finland/Canada game tomorrow.
 3) The Finland/Canada game has HUGE implications for the Elimination Round seeding. The winner will be either No. 1, if in regulation, or likely No. 3 if after regulation. The loser will likely be matched up against Russia in the Round of 8, possibly after having to play an elimination game the day before.
4) Tie breaker procedures are points (3pts for a regulation win, 2pts for an OT/SO win, 1pt for an OT/SO loss, 0pts for a regulation loss) followed head-to-head result (if the two teams played in Group Play), then goal differential, followed by most goals scored.

Here are the standings and how they can play out Sunday morning…
– Games in Group C are done. Sweden has 9 points and a +5 goal differential, Switzerland has 6 points and +1 goal differential, Czech Republic has 3 points and -1 goal differential, Latvia has 0 points and -5 goal differential.

–  Group A has two more games, USA vs. Slovenia and Russia vs. Slovakia. Currently USA leads the group with 5 points and a +7 goal differential, followed by Russia at 4 points and +2, Slovenia at 3 points and -1, and Slovakia at 0 points and -8.
A win of any kind will secure Team USA the top spot in the Group and a bye into the Quarterfinals. A Russia win in regulation would put Team Russia in a strong position for the No. 4 seed in the Elimination Round and also a bye into the Quarterfinals.

– Group B has two more games, Canada vs. Finland and Austria vs. Norway. Currently Finland (+9 goal differential) and Canada (+8 goal differential) are tied with 6 points, while Norway (-7 goal differential) and Austria (-10 goal differential) are tied with 0 points.
Winner of the Canada/Finland game will win the Group and earn a bye into the Quartefinals.

With USA and Russia both prohibitive favorites tomorrow, the seeding for the Single Elimination appears to come down primarily to the Canada/Finland result. To reduce the number of options, I’ll go off the assumption that Team USA and Team Russia both perform as expected and pick up regulation wins. In that most likely scenario, here’s what the Canada/Finland game would mean…

IF CANADA/FINLAND GAME IS DECIDED IN REGULATION
#1 Seed FIN/CAN winner (9 pts, Goal Differential of +9 or better) … face Game D winner in QF Round
#2 Seed Sweden (9 pts, +5) … face Game C Winner in QF Round
#3 Seed USA (8pts in regulation, 7 pts in OT/SO) … face Game B Winner in QF Round
#4 Seed Russia (7pts w/regulation win) … face Game A Winner in QF Round
Game A – #5 FIN/CAN loser (6pts, Goal Diff lower than +8) vs. Slovakia or NOR/AUT loser
Game B – #6 Switzerland (6pts, +1 Goal Diff) vs. Slovakia or NOR/AUT loser
Game C – #7 Czech Republic (3pts, -1 Goal Diff) vs. Latvia (0pts, -5 Goal Diff)
Game D – #8 or #9 Slovenia (3pts, Goal Diff lower than -1)  vs. #8 or #9 AUT/NOR winner
** NOTE: if Austria/Norway goes to OT/SO, Slovakia would play in Game A, Latvia would slide to Game B, AUT/NOR loser would be in Game C, and Slovenia would be #8 seed in Game D

IF CANADA/FINLAND GAME IS DECIDED IN OT/SO
#1 Seed Sweden (9pts)
#2 Seed USA or FIN/CAN winner (8pts)*
#3 Seed USA or FIN/CAN winner (8pts)*
#4 Seed FIN/CAN loser (7pts, Goal Diff of +7 or +8)*
Game A – #5 Russia (7pts, Goal Diff better than +2)* vs. Slovakia or NOR/AUT loser
Game B – #6 Switzerland (6pts) vs. Slovakia or NOR/AUT loser
Game C – #7 Czech Republic (3pts, -1 Goal Diff) vs. Latvia (0pts, -5 Goal Diff)
Game D – #8 or #9 Slovenia (3pts, Goal Diff lower than -1)  vs. #8 or #9 AUT/NOR winner
*NOTE: Goal Differential would come in to play. If Team USA wins by 4 goals or more it would have a goal differential of at least +11, which would be better than the FIN/CAN winner (+9 or +10). The FIN/CAN loser would have a Goal Differential of +7 or +8, which would mean Russia would need to beat Slovakia by five or six goals to overtake the FIN/CAN loser for the #4 seed.

For the US, a win would seem to put the team in line to face either Switzerland (Team Josi for Preds fans) or Czech Republic (Martin Erat for Preds fans) in the Quarterfinals, avoiding an early elimination match-up against one of the other Big5 teams in the tournament. As for Finland and Canada, the winner would get to avoid Russia in the Quarterfinals, while the loser would appear to be set up to face the Russians in a losing-team-leaves-without-a-medal matchup in the Quarterfinals.

Of course, if USA or Russia slip up on Sunday, then throw most of this out because the scenarios become really jumbled.

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