Pekka Rinne signed a two-year extension, John Stevens and Joel Quenneville were fired, Willie Desjardin’s back and there’s a new guy in Chicago (Jeremy Colliton), Philadelphia Flyers goaltending is in the news again, people in Ottawa are fired up about Uber, Lou Lamoriello reached 2,400 games as a GM as the New York Islanders lead the Metropolitan Division and is Halloween the new Thanksgiving? Nick and Connor discuss.
Nick and Connor rant about retired numbers, anniversary patches, showing emotion in hockey, the Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander, coaches that might get fired, “the code” and Mike Matheson’s antics.
42-32-8, 92 points, 6th in the Central Division
Subtractions: Head Coach Ken Hitchcock (retired), D Andrew Bodnarchuk (signed, DEL), F Brian Flynn (signed with STL), D Dan Hamhuis (signed with NSH), G Mike McKenna (signed with OTT), F Curtis McKenzie (signed with VGK), D Greg Pateryn (signed with MIN), D Brent Regner (signed, Austria), F Antoine Roussel (signed with VAN)
Still Unsigned: G Kari Lehtonen, D Andrew O’Brien, F Cole Ully
Offseason Analysis: After missing the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs by a few points, Ken Hitchcock finally hung up the pen and paper(?) behind the bench. Hitchcock’s one-year reunion with the Dallas Stars proved two things– that the Stars weren’t a playoff caliber roster in the long run and that Hitchcock’s coaching style had run its course in the contemporary NHL.
Outside of John Klingberg and Marc Methot, Dallas’s defense didn’t scream high-caliber. Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin alone couldn’t generate enough offense to ease the barrage of pucks Ben Bishop faced in net.
Whatever the reasoning, the fact of the matter is the Stars didn’t have a complete team in 2017-18, so General Manager Jim Nill had some cracks to fix.
First, Dallas brought in 49-year-old head coach, Jim Montgomery, out of the University of Denver and into the National Hockey League. Montgomery expects to bring a new-age pace to the Stars, but there’s always a catch– rookie NHL coaches rarely exceed expectations in their first season, especially if they’re coming from college hockey straight to the NHL level of the professional game.
Second, Nill didn’t make any trades. Instead he opted to let Antoine Roussel and his 17 points in 73 games last season walk in free agency, along with Curtis McKenzie and other bottom-six role forwards. Also gone are Dan Hamhuis– once thought to be a steal from free agency not so long ago– and Greg Pateryn, who, after all things considered, played a durable bottom-pair worthy role on the Dallas blueline.
Nill signed 32-year-old Roman Polak to a one-year, $1.300 million contract to appease veteran presence on the backend with a friendly short-term deal while the Stars look to implement Miro Heiskanen in the North American game.
Blake Comeau, Erik Condra and Michael Mersch will all file down the line of bottom-six “glue guy” roles on the depth chart all the way to being a healthy scratch most nights– let alone emergency call-up go-tos.
The fact of the matter is the Stars need to get younger and it could start with Heiskanen, but it should also include Jason Robertson among the forwards. Past that, there’s not much going on in the Big D.
After Kari Lehtonen, 35, couldn’t hold his weight as a starter, Dallas brought in Ben Bishop– a surefire number one goalie– to lead them back to glory. Bishop’s year didn’t fully go as planned, but Lehtonen actually improved from 2016-17 to 2017-18 in his more limited role.
Lehtonen’s 2.85 goals against average and .902 save percentage in 59 games played in 2016-17 dropped to a 2.56 GAA and rose to a .912 SV% in 37 appearances last season. The Atlanta Thrashers 2nd overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft rebounded quite nicely and is still unsigned.
Meanwhile, Nill brought in Anton Khudobin, 32, most recently from the Boston Bruins on a two-year contract to become become Bishop’s backup. Khudobin’s can be streaky at times, but when he’s good, he’s
great good. Just good.
Case in point, Khudobin bounced back from a 2.64 GAA and .904 SV% in 16 appearances with the Bruins in 2016-17 while bouncing back-and-forth between Boston and Providence (AHL) to a 2.56 GAA and .913 SV% in 31 games last season with the Bruins.
Khudobin’s GAA last season was the same as Lehtonen’s in six fewer games. He faced almost 100 fewer shots than Lehtonen and allowed seven fewer goals. His save percentage was .001% better than Lehtonen.
If Nill’s getting really technical, he “improved” Dallas’s backup option. Sure he’s not paying a guy $5.900 million to play fewer than 40 games, but Khudobin’s making $2.500 million for… pretty much the same results if he’s playing well.
If Lehtonen was going to re-sign, he surely was going to have to sign for much less than what he was making ($5.900 million) and wouldn’t have been able to capitalize as much as Khudobin did on his comeback (Khudobin more than doubled his salary from his last contract with Boston to his current one with Dallas).
I mean, Lehtonen improved much like his former teammate with the Stars, Antti Niemi did, but without the immense failures in Pittsburgh and Florida before being picked up off waivers by the Montreal Canadiens.
But enough about subprime goaltending, lack of offense and not enough drive from a mediocre defense outside of John Klingberg.
The Stars aren’t on the rise and that should concern fans deeply.
You see, there’s another guy wearing No. 91 in the NHL that’s a pending-UFA in July 2019 and nearly every armchair GM has already set their sights on him. His name is Tyler Seguin and he’s Dallas’s biggest star.
After talking about an extension before the 2018 NHL Draft– conveniently held in Dallas– Seguin’s heard nothing from the Stars front office. Another season without a postseason might just be enough to push the 26-year-old center over the edge and into the waters of free agency next summer.
Offseason Grade: D+
There’s areas of concern that go further than just shaking things up behind the bench in Dallas. It’s not that Montgomery won’t be a great coach, but rather that Nill hasn’t pulled off the necessary moves with the roster to really set them over the bar and into the playoffs.
Betting on other teams regressing to the mean, while counting on your stars to perform better than they did last season isn’t safe if you’re not actually improving. Plus there’s the whole “they might lose Tyler Seguin for nothing next offseason a la the New York Islanders and John Tavares“. First impressions for the future are everything, and Nill and the Stars aren’t sending the right one(s).
Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft was Friday night at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. As always, there were plenty of surprises and a lack of trades. Here’s how it all went down.
2018 NHL Entry Draft Round 1
- Buffalo Sabres–> D Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda HC (Sweden)
- Carolina Hurricanes–> RW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (OHL)
- Montreal Canadiens–> C Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat (Finland)
- Ottawa Senators–> LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University (H-East)
- Arizona Coyotes–> C Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
- Detroit Red Wings–> RW Filip Zadina, Halixfax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- Vancouver Canucks–> D Quinn Hughes, University of Michigan
- Chicago Blackhawks–> D Adam Boqvist, Brynas Jr. (Sweden)
- New York Rangers–> RW Vitali Kravstov, Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia)
- Edmonton Oilers–> D Evan Bouchard, London Knights (OHL)
- New York Islanders–> RW Oliver Wahlstrom, USA U-18 (USNTDP)
- New York Islanders (from Calgary)–> D Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
- Dallas Stars–> C Ty Dellandrea, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
- Philadelphia Flyers (from St. Louis)–> LW Joel Farabee, USA U-18 (USNTDP)
- Florida Panthers–> LW Grigori Denisenko, Yaroslavl 2 (Russia- JR.)
- Colorado Avalanche–> RW Martin Kaut, HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic)
- New Jersey Devils–> D Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
- Columbus Blue Jackets–> C Liam Foudy, London Knights (OHL)
- Philadelphia Flyers–> C Jay O’Brien, Thayer Academy (USHS)
- Los Angeles Kings–> C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Finland)
- San Jose Sharks–> D Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm (OHL)
- New York Rangers (from Pittsburgh via Ottawa)–> D K’Andre Miller, USA U-18 (USNTDP)
- Anaheim Ducks–> C Isac Lundestrom, Lulea HF (Sweden)
- Minnesota Wild–> D Filip Johansson, Leksand-JR. (Sweden)
- St. Louis Blues (from Toronto)–> RW Dominik Bokk, Vaxjo Lakers (Sweden)
- Ottawa Senators (from Boston via N.Y. Rangers)–> D Jacob Bernard-Docker, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL)
- Chicago Blackhawks (from Nashville)–> D Nicolas Beaudin, Drummondville Votigeurs (QMJHL)
- New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay)–> D Nils Lundkvist, Lulea HF (Sweden)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (from Winnipeg via St. Louis)–> D Rasmus Sandin, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
- Detroit Red Wings (from Vegas)–> C Joseph Veleno, Drummondville Votigeurs (QMJHL)
- Washington Capitals–> D Alexander Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Trades made on Day 1 of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft:
- The Washington Capitals traded D Brooks Orpik and G Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a 2018 2nd round pick (47th overall).
- The Ottawa Senators traded a 2018 1st round pick (22nd overall originally from Pittsburgh) to the New York Rangers in exchange for a 2018 1st round pick (26th overall originally from Boston) and a 2018 2nd round pick (48th overall originally from New Jersey).
- The Toronto Maple Leafs traded their 2018 1st round pick (25th overall) to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for a 2018 1st round pick (29th overall originally from Winnipeg) and 2018 3rd round pick (76th overall).
Nick and Connor recap the 2018 trade deadline, 2018 Winter Games and 2018 overall even though it’s only March. Marco Sturm is worthy of an NHL coaching job, but will anyone take the risk? Hint: They should. Also, more thoughts on the Erik Karlsson saga.
Skater of the Week: Evgeni Malkin
Currently riding a six-game point streak with 13 total points in that time, Malkin is just torching everything in his path. In his two contests this past week he tallied a goal and two assists in Carolina before reversing the numbers in Florida. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that only one of those six points was on the power play. In fact, just two of the 13 points he’s scored in this streak were away from even strength.
The Penguins were already stacked and red-hot before adding Derick Brassard, so as of this writing, there’s no solid reason not to bet on the three-peat.
Tendy of the Week: Frederik Andersen
Possibly the quietest Vezina candidate of all time, Freddie has been stellar for basically the entire season, and is a huge reason the Leafs are where they’re at in the standings. But playing behind that offense doesn’t leave a lot of spotlight left for the Danish netminder. Not that he seems to mind.
Downing the Panthers, Islanders, and closest rival Boston during the week, Andersen posted a .939 save percentage and 1.96 GAA on the week, stopping 92 of 98 shots faced. If not for an .870 result against Boston (a game that was still a regulation win for his Leafs, mind you) where he allowed three goals on only 23 shots, Andersen’s numbers could have been even more spectacular. Still, that 3-0-0 record is probably the most important thing to him and his team.
Currently carrying a .922 save percentage and 2.67 GAA on the season to accompany a 32-16-4 record, Freddie has firmly placed his name in the category of ‘Legit #1 goaltender’, and his Toronto squad looks poised to potentially do some postseason damage.
Game of the Week: Germany 3, Artists Formerly Known as Russia 4 (OT)
International officiating is somehow actually worse than NHL officiating, believe it or not.
News, Notes, & Nonsense:
*Disclaimer: Nick and Connor have been doing a great job of recapping all the trade deadline madness, so rather than repeat all the trades that they’ve already written about, I’ll simply direct you to their articles*
Mike Fisher is now o-fish-ully back with the Predators, having signed a $1 million contract for the remainder of the 2017-’18 season. The Preds definitely seem to be all-in for a Cup run this year, convincing former captain Fisher to unretire, and acquiring wrecking ball winger Ryan Hartman from division rival Chicago at the deadline.
Erik Karlsson is still an Ottawa Senator, which I suppose is great news to anyone not named Erik Karlsson.
Jack Johnson is still a Blue Jacket, and I can only assume our good friend Cap’n Cornelius can actually feel me typing those words as they dig into his soul. Oh well, at least we got to see Aaron Portzline be wrong about something again.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made another save by reaching his glove behind his back, confirming that the original was not a fluke and that he is not actually a human but rather some sort of crazy Russian android, and I feel like we’re not as concerned about that as we should be.
Brian Gionta and Cody Goloubef managed to earn the attention of NHL teams during their respective Olympic tournaments, with Goloubef getting a contract from the Flames, and Gionta (admittedly surprisingly) signing with the Bruins.
Johnny Oduya was waived by Ottawa and claimed by Philadelphia, and I can only assume he did not need transportation to make the trip from Ontario to Pennsylvania.
Settle in and watch all 14 of today’s games. You owe it to yourself.
As I write, the Czech Republic and Canada are playing for the bronze medal at the Olympics. That game started at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time.
Back in North America, the NHL has scheduled a dozen tilts this fine Saturday, starting with Philadelphia at Ottawa (NHLN/TVAS) at 2 p.m. At 4 p.m., Colorado at Calgary is the next matinee scheduled, followed by the New York Islanders at New Jersey to clean up the day slate. The usual starting time of 7 p.m. brings seven puck drops (Winnipeg at Dallas [SN1/SN360], Boston at Toronto [SN], Tampa Bay at Montréal [CITY/TVAS], Carolina at Detroit, Pittsburgh at Florida, Buffalo at Washington and Chicago at Columbus [NHLN]), followed by Anaheim at Arizona an hour later. Finally, tonight’s nightcap – Edmonton at Los Angeles (CITY/SN/SN360) – is slated for 10 p.m. All times Eastern.
Last but not least, Olympic gold is up for grabs between the OAR and Germany at 11:10 Eastern time at Gangneung Hockey Centre.
Of quite a list of games, there’s more than a few that are worthy of our attention.
- Czech Republic vs. Canada: For a Canadian team without its NHL players, bronze has to be considered a success.
- New York at New Jersey: Patrik Elias was an excellent Devil for 20 years. Tonight, his 26 sweater will be lifted to the Prudential Center rafters alongside Martin Brodeur‘s 30, Ken Daneyko‘s 3, Scott Niedermayer‘s 27 and Scott Stevens‘ 4.
- Boston at Toronto: Original Six action between teams separated by only one point in the standings? Sign me up.
- Chicago at Columbus: Brandon Saad makes his return to Nationwide Arena tonight after being traded back to the Windy City this offseason.
- Edmonton at Los Angeles: Old rivalries die hard, right?
- OAR vs. Germany: It’s the favorites against what could be one of the best Cinderella stories of all time. Who wins the medal they want tonight?
Almost all of the games listed above have the potential to be excellent, but there’s obviously only one clear choice for today’s featured matchup.
I said something similar in my OAR vs. the Czech Republic semifinal preview, but it bears repeating: no team has been as impressive at the 4-0-0-1 Olympics than the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Of course, what should we expect from a team consisting of players from three of the best teams in the world’s second-best league?
Красная Машина – The Red Machine – so dominant is its imposing offense. The OAR are managing a ridiculous 4.6 goals per game through their first five games, well above Finland’s second-best effort of 3.2 goals per game.
While almost every skater on the OAR’s roster is capable of finding the scorecard, four in particular have stood out above the rest. F Nikita Gusev leads the way with 2-6-8 totals in five showings, followed by F Ilya Kovalchuk (5-2-7), F Pavel Datsyuk (0-5-5) and F Kirill Kaprizov (4-1-5). All four players are distributed through the Machine’s top two lines.
Of course, one of the bonuses of having such an impressive attack is that it limits the opponent’s opportunities. In addition to averaging the most goals, the OAR are also limiting opponents shots on goal to only 21.6 – the second-fewest of any team in South Korea.
Not that he needs all that much help, that keeps the workload off G Vasili Koshechkin. Having allowed only five goals all tournament, he’s posted an impressive .951 save percentage and 1.08 GAA.
While almost everyone had predicted the OAR to qualify for tonight’s gold medal game, no one expected the 1-3-0-2 Germans to advance this far. Germany has never won either a silver or gold at the Olympics, meaning this will easily be its best performance at the tournament regardless of this game unfolds.
Unfortunately for Träger der Adler – The Eagle Carriers – the odds are not stacked in their favor. Not only is the OAR going to be the most imposing team Germany has faced, but the Germans’ stats simply don’t stack up in comparison.
Let’s start on offense, where Germany’s 2.33 goals per game is sixth-worst of any team in the tournament. No German skater has been more impressive than F Patrick Hager, who’s 3-3-6 totals through six games are easily the best marks of any player on the team.
Meanwhile, considering the Eagle Carriers have allowed a fifth-worst 26.83 shots on goal per game, the defensive end has totally relied on the efforts of G Danny aus den Birken.
If an MVP award is distributed at the Olympics, aus den Birken is certainly the most deserving German considering his .904 save percentage and 2.54 GAA. Though those numbers pale in comparison to Koshechkin’s marks, he’s been able to provide the biggest, most important saves for Germany to keep it alive in this tournament.
Germany’s unprecedented run to the top of this Olympic tournament has been fun to watch, and I’m certainly pulling for the Eagle Carriers in tonight’s game. However, I don’t see them pulling off the massive upset against the OAR.
Midnight has yet to strike in PyeongChang, as Germany – the Olympics’ Cinderella story – advanced to the gold medal game by beating Canada 4-3 at Gangneung Hockey Centre in yesterday’s DtFR Game of the Day.
Though hockey is a game divided into thirds, this semifinal was a tale of two halves. Germany dominated the first half, as they had a 3-0 advantage through the first 28 minutes.
Only one goal was struck in the first period, and it was a result of some very undisciplined play by the Canadians. With 6:41 remaining in the frame, F Linden Vey earned himself a seat in the penalty box for high sticking, and that infraction was compounded by the Canadian bench also being assessed a delay of game penalty (served by F Rene Bourque). As a result, Germany earned itself a 50-second five-on-three power play once F Felix Schutz was released from the penalty box (boarding). F Brooks Macek (F Dominik Kahun) needed only 14 seconds of that advantage to beat G Kevin Poulin, setting the score at 1-0.
Where Germany really turned on the jets was in the second period, as they posted an imposing three goals in the frame. First up was F Matthias Plachta (F Patrick Hager), scoring only 3:21 into the period to give the Germans a two-goal advantage. That tally was followed only 3:28 later by F Frank Mauer (F Marcel Goc and F David Wolf), setting the score at 3-0. Canada finally got on the scoreboard at the 8:17 mark of the period courtesy of a F Gilbert Brule (D Chris Lee and D Maxim Noreau) power play goal, but the Germans answered right back only 4:14 later when Hager (Plachta and Schutz) registered a power play goal of his own.
Though Hager’s goal was the last of the second period, there was one final major event in the frame. Only 28 seconds after Hager set the score at 4-1, Brule was ejected from the game for checking to the head and neck area.
There’s a difference between winning a period and dominating a period. Germany won the first two periods, but – even with three goals – I wouldn’t say it dominated either frame.
On the other hand, Canada absolutely dominated the third period. Not only did they fire 15 shots on goal – the most of either team in any period – but the Canadians also limited Germany to only one shot against Poulin.
With that in mind, perhaps its no surprise Team Canada fought its way back into this game, starting with M Robinson’s (C Thomas and M Raymond) tally 2:42 into the frame. The next scoring opportunity of the frame belonged to Germany, as Kahun was tripped by C Goloubef while attempting a shot 39 seconds after the horn stopped blaring for Robinson. Fortunately for Canada, Poulin stood tall to keep the score at 4-2, meaning F Derek Roy‘s (Lee and Noreau) power play goal at the 9:42 mark of the game pulled it back within a goal.
But the remaining 10:18 belonged to G Danny aus den Birken. No matter how many shots the Canadians fired, he would not yield the game-tying goal to earn the victory for Germany.
Aus den Birken earned the victory after saving 28-of-31 shots faced (.903 save percentage), leaving the loss to Poulin, who saved 11-of-15 (.733).
With that victory, Germany has already clinched its best finish at any Olympic tournament, as the Eagle Carriers are ensured at least silver by qualifying for the gold medal game. As stated above, they play for the Olympic title tonight at 11:10 p.m. Eastern time against the Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Additionally, the 73-46-17 home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series have recaptured a 21-point advantage over the road teams.
Enjoy your last Friday before the NHL trade deadline! Hopefully your boss doesn’t trade you across the country this weekend.
We start the day in South Korea at the Olympics, as there’s one remaining semifinal in the men’s tournament to be played. Dropping the puck at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time, Canada and Germany will be squaring off for their chance to qualify for the gold medal game.
Back in the lands of the NHL, we have five games on the NHL schedule – one of which I’ll be in attendance at. The action starts at 7 p.m. with Minnesota at the New York Rangers (NHLN), followed half an hour later by Pittsburgh at Carolina (TVAS). Staggered starts seems to be the theme tonight, as Winnipeg at St. Louis is slated to start at 8 p.m., while San Jose at Chicago waits 30 minutes before dropping the puck. Unfortunately, Vancouver at Vegas bucks our half-hour trend, as that tilt waits until 10:30 p.m. before closing out the night’s action. All times Eastern.
What games have my attention? I thought you’d never ask!
- Canada vs. Germany: The chance to play for a gold medal is tantalizingly close for these teams, but only one will get the chance to compete for the most desired prize.
- Pittsburgh at Carolina: This game literally will have my attention since it will be happening right in front of me. Watch for me and my dad on TVAS, Canadians!
While it would be fun to do a preview of the game I’ll be at, I’m sure it goes without saying that the Olympic semifinal is far more pressing.
Not to give away my pick, but the clear favorite in this game is 3-0-1-0 Canada. The Canadians took second place in Group A after tilts against Switzerland (5-1), the Czech Republic (3-2 shootout loss) and South Korea (4-0), followed by beating Finland in a tight 1-0 quarterfinals matchup.
Entering semifinal play (as will be the case for all statistical rankings in this preview), no team has had more success on the defensive end than Team Canada. Not only is their defense allowing a third-best 22.5 shots against per game (second-best among the four semifinalists), but G Ben Scrivens has also been solid, posting a .929 save percentage for a 1.61 GAA.
Mix those impressive together and you get a team that has allowed only one goal against per game, tops in South Korea.
Of course, Team Canada has more to offer than simply a strong defense. The team with the leafs on their sweaters have averaged an impressive three goals per game, the (t)third-most of any team at the Olympic Games and (t)second among the semifinalists.
While an impressive 15 different Canadians have found their way onto the scorecard, two NHL veterans have stood above the rest: D Maxim Noreau (2-3-5 totals) and F Derek Roy (0-5-5). Both are averaging more than a point per game, and pairing their success with production from almost every skater makes every Canadian line a threat to score.
Meanwhile, 0-3-0-2 Germany is the Cinderella story of this Olympic tournament, as it finished a lowly third place in Group C after tilts against Finland (5-2 loss), Sweden (1-0 loss) and Norway (2-1 SO).
However, the group stage has no bearing on how a team can perform in the playoffs, and Head Coach Marco Sturm has done an excellent job of getting his team to believe just that. Träger der Adler – The Eagle Carriers – have beaten Switzerland (2-1 OT) and Sweden (4-3 OT) – the tournament’s top seed following the group stage – to qualify for the semifinals and ensure the chance to compete for their first Olympic medal since West Germany took bronze at the 1976 Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Similar to Team Canada, Germany’s expertise in its first five games has been on the defensive end. The Eagle Carriers’ defense has allowed 26 shots against per game (sixth-worst among all Olympic teams, worst of the semifinalists), a manageable number for G Danny aus den Birken who’s posted a .904 save percentage and 2.43 GAA.
Putting those numbers together, the Germans have allowed only 2.2 goals against per game, the sixth-worst of any team in the Olympics and worst of the four semifinalists.
On the offensive end, the similarities in style between the Canadians and Germans continue, as 15 different skaters have registered at least a point. Of those, F Patrick Hager has been their biggest star with his team-leading 2-2-4 totals.
The Germans and Canadians last tangled on May 18, 2017 at the 2017 IIHF World Championships in Cologne, Germany. Canada’s defense was on full display in that game, limiting the Germans to only 20 shots on goal while the Canadians fired a whopping 50 at G Philipp Grubauer of the Washington Capitals. Grubauer performed well, but Winnipeg’s F Mark Scheifele and Carolina’s F Jeff Skinner were able to sneak a goal apiece past him to earn a slim 2-1 quarterfinals victory for Canada (Yannic Seidenberg scored Germany’s lone goal with 6:39 remaining in regulation) en route to a silver medal.
You’ll notice all but one player listed in that recap has an NHL team associated with his name. The fact that those players – and not Seidenberg – are preoccupied in North America is a major story in this game.
While doing our Olympic preview in a recent DtFR podcast, I pointed out that Germany has achieved a #8 world ranking from the IIHF without the luxury of multiple players from the top professional league in the world.
It is my opinion that this fact, which is usually to the Germans’ detriment, has become an advantage.
How could that be?
All of Team USA and Team Canada’s biggest stars are stuck in the NHL. The same can be said for a majority of the best Russians, Finns and Swedes. Meanwhile, Germany (and, perhaps unsurprisingly, fellow semifinalist Czech Republic) has fielded almost entirely its usual roster. Undoubtedly, that consistency and the chemistry associated with it is a major reason for Germany’s run to the semifinalists.
But is that continuity enough to beat the Canadians?
I certainly think this is going to be the more competitive of the two semifinal matchups, but the talent on Canada’s roster looks like it still exceeds that of the Germans. As such, I think Canada squeaks by Germany for the chance to win its third-consecutive gold.
The USWNT won gold in PyeongChang– defeating Canada 3-2 in a shootout– and Nick and Connor are thrilled. Jarome Iginla might be coming back just in time for trades, playoff talk and more on this week’s episode of the DTFR Podcast.
We’ve talked a lot in DtFR Podcasts about who is – and maybe even more about who isn’t – going to the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. However, we haven’t had too many discussions yet about the tournament itself.
What nations are going to be there? What is the format of the tournaments? What time will those games be? Will the United States get those games broadcast live? And, most importantly, who’s taking gold?
Let’s tackle those questions one at a time.
What nations are going to be at the Olympics this year?
In total, there will be 14 nations represented between the two tournaments – though that number does come with a catch.
Starting with the women’s tournament (which drops the first puck February 10 at 2:40 a.m. Eastern time), there will be two groups of four sides apiece competing to qualify for six spots in the knockout tournament.
Group A consists of:
- Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)
- United States of America
One of these things is not like the others, so now sounds like as good a time as any to discuss one of our “wildcard” nations.
With a press release on December 5, 2017, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the Russian Olympic Committee for the 2018 Games for “the systematic manipulation of the anti-doping system” during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
While that is a hefty charge, the IOC did offer an avenue for clean Russian athletes to compete. Every Russian who passes the IOC’s drug tests is eligible to compete for the Olympic Rings instead of for the Russian Federation, meaning any medals won by Russian athletes will not count towards Russia’s all-time medal counts. No Russian flags will be raised, nor will the State Anthem of the Russian Federation be heard, but at least those athletes will still have an opportunity to compete.
Group B consists of:
Ooh, our other “wildcard!” It’s hidden a bit better than the Russian situation, but there’s a hint in one team’s name.
You probably noticed there was no specification associated with Korea. That’s because North Korea and South Korea are fielding a unified team of 35 players (the standard 23 from South Korea with an additional dozen from North Korea) in the women’s hockey tournament.
This is a weird and highly politicized (Politics at the Olympics? *insert sarcastic ‘No!’ here*) decision that was finalized only 24 days before Korea’s first game, and that crunched timeline may yield unfortunate results on the ice. Steve Mollman of Quartz provides some excellent information about the politics of the situation, but the only rule Head Coach Sarah Murray, a dual-citizen of Canada and the USA, must follow is three North Korean players must be active for each game.
Meanwhile, the men’s tournament is a bit larger and features three groups of four teams for a total of 12 nations.
Group A consists of:
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- Olympic Athletes from Russia
- United States
…and Group C (the group I’m affectionately calling “The Euro Cup.” Original, I know):
All 12 squads will qualify for the knockout stage, but there is a major reward for each nation that wins its group: an automatic entry into the quarterfinals. The best second-place team will also earn a bye in the playoff round that will feature the remaining eight teams.
What is the format of each tournament?
Like many international sporting events, both the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey tournaments will begin with a group stage.
Each team in a given group will play one game against the other three teams in its section. For example, the unified Korean team in the women’s tournament will play Switzerland (February 10 at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time), Sweden (February 12 at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time) and Japan (February 14 at 2:40 a.m. Eastern time).
Standings will be tabulated in a way similar to the NHL, however there are a few differences: wins count for three points, while overtime and shootout wins only count for two. Overtime and shootout losses will still count for one point, and a regulation loss is… well, a major bummer.
Okay, we’ve completed the group stage. How does this turn into a knockout tournament?
This is the phase where things start to look a bit different between the men’s and women’s tournaments. Let’s start with the women’s competition, which will begin its knockout stage on February 16 at 10:10 p.m. Eastern time.
Did you notice how stacked Group A is? The IOC and IIHF did that intentionally, but they also paved the way for those teams into the tournament as all four will qualify for at least the quarterfinals. The top two teams from the group (A1 and A2) will receive automatic bids into the semifinals, while the remaining sides will square off against the winner and runner-up of Group B (A3 versus B2 and A4 versus B1) in the quarters. B3 and B4 will continue play, but the best they’ll be able to finish in the consolation tournament is fifth place.
The winner of A3vB2 will take on A1 in the semis, and A2 will square off against the victor of A4vB1. Once those tilts are done, it will boil down to the Gold Medal game, which is scheduled for February 21 at 11:10 p.m. Eastern time. The Bronze Medal match is slated for February 21 at 2:40 a.m. Eastern time.
As stated before, the group stage in the men’s tournament has no bearing on which nations advance into the knockout – all 12 teams will do just that. However, playoff matchups are dependent on success in the group stage.
Once group play is complete, all 12 teams will be pooled into one table with the three group winners listed 1-3, the runners-up 4-6 and so on, so forth. Within those four trios, they’ll be ordered by the number of points they earned in the group stage. Should there be a tie in points, it will be decided by goal-differential, then goals for, then – hopefully it doesn’t come to this one – the superior 2017 IIHF ranking.
I won’t bore you with the seeding process, but the first round of the men’s knockout tournament will begin February 19 at 10:10 p.m. Eastern time. The top four teams from the group stage enter during the quarterfinals, which are scheduled for February 20 at 10:10 p.m. Eastern time, followed by the semifinals three days later. Bronze medals will be awarded after the game at 7:10 a.m. Eastern time on February 24, followed by the Gold Medal tilt at 11:10 p.m. Eastern time that night.
What time are these games happening, and are they being televised?
To our readers not from the United States, the broadcasting part of this section doesn’t apply to you. Then again, most of you probably don’t want puck drops listed in Eastern time anyway, so thanks for reading this far if you’re still here!
Since the women’s tournament begins first, let’s start with their schedule. Remember, OAR means Olympic Athletes from Russia.
|2018 Women’s Tournament|
|Date/Time in PyeongChang||Date/Time (EST)||Group/
|Matchup||USA Live Broadcast|
|February 10 at 4:40 p.m.||February 10 at 2:40 a.m.||B||Japan v Sweden|
|February 10 at 9:10 p.m.||February 10 at 7:10 a.m.||B||Switzerland v Korea||USA|
|February 11 at 4:40 p.m.||February 11 at 2:40 a.m.||A||Finland v USA||NBC Sports Network|
|February 11 at 9:10 p.m.||February 11 at 7:10 a.m.||A||Canada v OAR|
|February 12 at 4:40 p.m.||February 12 at 2:40 a.m.||B||Switzerland v Japan||NBC Sports Network|
|February 12 at 9:10 p.m.||February 12 at 7:10 a.m.||B||Sweden v Korea||NBC Sports Network|
|February 13 at 4:40 p.m.||February 13 at 2:40 a.m.||A||Canada v Finland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 13 at 9:10 p.m.||February 13 at 7:10 a.m.||A||USA v OAR||NBC Sports Network|
|February 14 at 12:10 p.m.||February 13 at 10:10 pm||B||Sweden v Switzerland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 14 at 4:40 p.m.||February 14 at 2:40 a.m.||B||Korea v Japan||USA|
|February 15 at 12:10 p.m.||February 14 at 10:10 pm||A||USA v Canada||NBC Sports Network|
|February 15 at 4:40 p.m.||February 15 at 2:40 a.m.||A||OAR v Finland||USA|
|February 17 at 12:10 p.m.||February 16 at 10:10 pm||QF||Quarterfinals||CNBC|
|February 17 at 4:40 p.m.||February 17 at 2:40 a.m.||QF||Quarterfinals||USA|
|February 18 at 12:10 p.m.||February 17 at 10:10 pm||CONS||Classification (5-8 place)|
|February 18 at 4:40 p.m.||February 18 at 2:40 a.m.||CONS||Classification (5-8 place)|
|February 19 at 1:10 p.m.||February 18 at 11:10 pm||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 19 at 9:10 p.m.||February 19 at 7:10 a.m.||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 12:10 p.m.||February 19 at 10:10 pm||CONS||Classification (7-8 place)|
|February 20 at 4:40 p.m.||February 20 at 2:40 a.m.||CONS||Classification (5-6 place)|
|February 21 at 4:40 p.m.||February 21 at 2:40 a.m.||BMG||Bronze Medal Game||USA|
|February 22 at 1:10 p.m.||February 21 at 11:10 pm||GMG||Gold Medal Game||NBC Sports Network|
And now, the men’s tournament:
|2018 men’s Tournament|
|Date/Time in PyeongChang||Date/Time (EST)||Group/
|Matchup||USA Live Broadcast|
|February 14 at 9:10 p.m.||February 14 at 7:10 a.m.||B||Slovakia v OAR||USA|
|February 14 at 9:10 p.m.||February 14 at 7:10 a.m.||B||USA v Slovenia||NBC Sports Network|
|February 15 at 12:10 p.m.||February 14 at 10:10 pm||C||Finland v Germany||CNBC|
|February 15 at 4:40 p.m.||February 15 at 2:40 a.m.||C||Norway v Sweden||NBC Sports Network|
|February 15 at 9:10 p.m.||February 15 at 7:10 a.m.||A||Czech Republic v South Korea||USA|
|February 15 at 9:10 p.m.||February 15 at 7:10 a.m.||A||Switzerland v Canada||NBC Sports Network|
|February 16 at 12:10 p.m.||February 15 at 10:10 pm||B||USA v Slovakia||CNBC|
|February 16 at 4:40 p.m.||February 16 at 2:40 a.m.||B||OAR v Slovenia||NBC Sports Network|
|February 16 at 9:10 p.m.||February 16 at 7:10 a.m.||C||Finland v Norway||USA|
|February 16 at 9:10 p.m.||February 16 at 7:10 a.m.||C||Sweden v Germany||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 12:10 p.m.||February 16 at 10:10 p.m.||A||Canada v Czech Republic||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 4:40 p.m.||February 17 at 2:40 a.m.||A||South Korea v Switzerland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 9:10 p.m.||February 17 at 7:10 a.m.||B||OAR v USA||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 9:10 p.m.||February 17 at 7:10 a.m.||B||Slovenia v Slovakia||USA|
|February 18 at 12:10 p.m.||February 17 at 10:10 pm||C||Germany v Norway||NBC Sports Network|
|February 18 at 4:40 p.m.||February 18 at 2:40 a.m.||A||Czech Republic v Switzerland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 18 at 9:10 p.m.||February 18 at 7:10 a.m.||A||Canada v South Korea||USA|
|February 18 at 9:10 p.m.||February 18 at 7:10 a.m.||C||Sweden v Finland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 12:10 p.m.||February 19 at 10:10 pm||Q||Qualifications||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 4:40 p.m.||February 20 at 2:40 a.m.||Q||Qualifications||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 9:10 p.m.||February 20 at 7:10 a.m.||Q||Qualifications||USA|
|February 20 at 9:10 p.m.||February 20 at 7:10 a.m.||Q||Qualifications||NBC Sports Network|
|February 21 at 12:10 p.m.||February 20 at 10:10 pm||QF||Quarterfinals||CNBC|
|February 21 at 4:40 p.m.||February 21 at 2:40 a.m.||QF||Quarterfinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 21 at 9:10 p.m.||February 21 at 7:10 a.m.||QF||Quarterfinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 21 at 9:10 p.m.||February 21 at 7:10 a.m.||QF||Quarterfinals||USA|
|February 23 at 4:40 p.m.||February 23 at 2:40 a.m.||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 23 at 9:10 p.m.||February 23 at 7:10 a.m.||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 24 at 9:10 p.m.||February 24 at 7:10 a.m.||BMG||Bronze Medal Game||NBC Sports Network|
|February 25 at 1:10 p.m.||February 24 at 11:10 pm||GMG||Gold Medal Game||NBC Sports Network|
A master schedule is available at the bottom of this article, but there’s one question left to answer first.
So, who’s going for the gold?
Ah, perhaps the most important question of them all.
As we’ve been doing this whole time, we’ll stick with tradition and predict the women’s tournament first.
Just examining the format of the tournament, the IIHF and the IOC are simply begging for another Gold Medal Game between Canada and the United States, the world’s top-two ranked women’s teams.
There’s obviously potential for either team to stumble in a group that features the four best squads in the world and be forced to play in the quarterfinals, but I just don’t see it happening. Should my prediction prove correct, the world’s best teams would square off in a third-straight Olympic Final, with Canada playing for its fifth-consecutive gold.
As for the men’s tournament, it’s been well reported that the NHL keeping its players at home will play a major role in determining which nations are taking home hardware.
In my opinion, that leaves the door wide open for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, especially since they’re playing in what I believe to be the weakest group of the bunch. The OAR boasts players such as F Pavel Datsyuk, C Mikhail Grigorenko, W Ilya Kovalchuk, D Alexey Marchenko, D Nikita Nesterov and F Vadim Shipachyov – all of whom have NHL experience. Tack on the fact that they all play in the second-best league in the world, and they’re more than prepared for every challenge that can come their way in Pyeongchang.
Of course, we all saw what happened the last time the Russians were favorites to win the Olympics. Should this team crumble like 2014’s squad (even though F T.J. Oshie will be preoccupied playing with the best Russian player in the world, W Alex Ovechkin), I’m leaning towards the winner of the mini Euro Cup taking full advantage. All four of those teams are in the top-10 of the current IIHF World Rankings, with Sweden and Finland respectively leading the way as numbers 3 and 4.
But don’t leave the predicting work to me. Here’s what all of us here at Down the Frozen River – and even our old pal Frank Fanelli, now of Student Union Sports – think is going to happen:
|Down the Frozen River’s Olympic Picks|
It seems I’m not alone in my prediction of a Canada-USA Gold Medal match in the women’s tournament! All seven of us have the two squaring off in the final, with a slim majority believing Captain Meghan Duggan and co. can lead Team USA to its first gold since 1998.
As for the women’s Bronze Medal game, we’re leaning towards a Scandinavian country taking home some hardware – with most of us favoring Sweden over Finland. However, Colby and I think underdogs are going to make it to the semifinals before falling, as I’m pegging the fourth-ranked Olympic Athletes from Russia to end up in fourth and Colby’s picking ninth-ranked Japan.
In the men’s tournament, it seems Sweden is the nearly consensus favorite to come away with the medals that match its tri-crowned sweaters. However, who Captain Joel Lundqvist‘s – yes, the twin brother of the Rangers’ G Henrik Lundqvist – team beats in that Gold Medal game is anyone’s guess, as we’ve picked four different teams to take home silver.
We seem to be in a bit more agreement about the winner of the bronze medal, as four of us have pegged Captain Chris Kelly‘s Team Canada to come home with its third-consecutive medal.
While we may all have our own rooting interests, I think we can all agree that this should be a fun and exciting two weeks of hockey.
|2018 Olympic Hockey Tournament|
|Date/Time in PyeongChang||Date/Time (EST)||Sex||Group/
|Matchup||USA Live Broadcast|
|February 10 at 4:40 p.m.||February 10 at 2:40 a.m.||W||B||Japan v Sweden|
|February 10 at 9:10 p.m.||February 10 at 7:10 a.m.||W||B||Switzerland v Korea||USA|
|February 11 at 4:40 p.m.||February 11 at 2:40 a.m.||W||A||Finland v USA||NBC Sports Network|
|February 11 at 9:10 p.m.||February 11 at 7:10 a.m.||W||A||Canada v OAR|
|February 12 at 4:40 p.m.||February 12 at 2:40 a.m.||W||B||Switzerland v Japan||NBC Sports Network|
|February 12 at 9:10 p.m.||February 12 at 7:10 a.m.||W||B||Sweden v Korea||NBC Sports Network|
|February 13 at 4:40 p.m.||February 13 at 2:40 a.m.||W||A||Canada v Finland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 13 at 9:10 p.m.||February 13 at 7:10 a.m.||W||A||USA v OAR||NBC Sports Network|
|February 14 at 12:10 p.m.||February 13 at 10:10 pm||W||B||Sweden v Switzerland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 14 at 4:40 p.m.||February 14 at 2:40 a.m.||W||B||Korea v Japan||USA|
|February 14 at 9:10 p.m.||February 14 at 7:10 a.m.||M||B||Slovakia v OAR||USA|
|February 14 at 9:10 p.m.||February 14 at 7:10 a.m.||M||B||USA v Slovenia||NBC Sports Network|
|February 15 at 12:10 p.m.||February 14 at 10:10 pm||W||A||USA v Canada||NBC Sports Network|
|February 15 at 12:10 p.m.||February 14 at 10:10 pm||M||C||Finland v Germany||CNBC|
|February 15 at 4:40 p.m.||February 15 at 2:40 a.m.||W||A||OAR v Finland||USA|
|February 15 at 4:40 p.m.||February 15 at 2:40 a.m.||M||C||Norway v Sweden||NBC Sports Network|
|February 15 at 9:10 p.m.||February 15 at 7:10 a.m.||M||A||Czech Republic v South Korea||USA|
|February 15 at 9:10 p.m.||February 15 at 7:10 a.m.||M||A||Switzerland v Canada||NBC Sports Network|
|February 16 at 12:10 p.m.||February 15 at 10:10 pm||M||B||USA v Slovakia||CNBC|
|February 16 at 4:40 p.m.||February 16 at 2:40 a.m.||M||B||OAR v Slovenia||NBC Sports Network|
|February 16 at 9:10 p.m.||February 16 at 7:10 a.m.||M||C||Finland v Norway||USA|
|February 16 at 9:10 p.m.||February 16 at 7:10 a.m.||M||C||Sweden v Germany||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 12:10 p.m.||February 16 at 10:10 pm||W||QF||Quarterfinals||CNBC|
|February 17 at 12:10 p.m.||February 16 at 10:10 p.m.||M||A||Canada v Czech Republic||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 4:40 p.m.||February 17 at 2:40 a.m.||W||QF||Quarterfinals||USA|
|February 17 at 4:40 p.m.||February 17 at 2:40 a.m.||M||A||South Korea v Switzerland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 9:10 p.m.||February 17 at 7:10 a.m.||M||B||OAR v USA||NBC Sports Network|
|February 17 at 9:10 p.m.||February 17 at 7:10 a.m.||M||B||Slovenia v Slovakia||USA|
|February 18 at 12:10 p.m.||February 17 at 10:10 pm||M||C||Germany v Norway||NBC Sports Network|
|February 18 at 12:10 p.m.||February 17 at 10:10 pm||W||CONS||Classification (5-8 place)|
|February 18 at 4:40 p.m.||February 18 at 2:40 a.m.||M||A||Czech Republic v Switzerland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 18 at 4:40 p.m.||February 18 at 2:40 a.m.||W||CONS||Classification (5-8 place)|
|February 18 at 9:10 p.m.||February 18 at 7:10 a.m.||M||A||Canada v South Korea||USA|
|February 18 at 9:10 p.m.||February 18 at 7:10 a.m.||M||C||Sweden v Finland||NBC Sports Network|
|February 19 at 1:10 p.m.||February 18 at 11:10 pm||W||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 19 at 9:10 p.m.||February 19 at 7:10 a.m.||W||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 12:10 p.m.||February 19 at 10:10 pm||M||Q||Qualifications||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 12:10 p.m.||February 19 at 10:10 pm||W||CONS||Classification (7-8 place)|
|February 20 at 4:40 p.m.||February 20 at 2:40 a.m.||M||Q||Qualifications||NBC Sports Network|
|February 20 at 4:40 p.m.||February 20 at 2:40 a.m.||W||CONS||Classification (5-6 place)|
|February 20 at 9:10 p.m.||February 20 at 7:10 a.m.||M||Q||Qualifications||USA|
|February 20 at 9:10 p.m.||February 20 at 7:10 a.m.||M||Q||Qualifications||NBC Sports Network|
|February 21 at 12:10 p.m.||February 20 at 10:10 pm||M||QF||Quarterfinals||CNBC|
|February 21 at 4:40 p.m.||February 21 at 2:40 a.m.||W||BMG||Bronze Medal Game||USA|
|February 21 at 4:40 p.m.||February 21 at 2:40 a.m.||M||QF||Quarterfinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 21 at 9:10 p.m.||February 21 at 7:10 a.m.||M||QF||Quarterfinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 21 at 9:10 p.m.||February 21 at 7:10 a.m.||M||QF||Quarterfinals||USA|
|February 22 at 1:10 p.m.||February 21 at 11:10 pm||W||GMG||Gold Medal Game||NBC Sports Network|
|February 23 at 4:40 p.m.||February 23 at 2:40 a.m.||M||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 23 at 9:10 p.m.||February 23 at 7:10 a.m.||M||SF||Semifinals||NBC Sports Network|
|February 24 at 9:10 p.m.||February 24 at 7:10 a.m.||M||BMG||Bronze Medal Game||NBC Sports Network|
|February 25 at 1:10 p.m.||February 24 at 11:10 pm||M||GMG||Gold Medal Game||NBC Sports Network|