Eyes On Isles Hockey Guide To Sochi 2014


The winter Olympics are set to begin in Sochi, Russia with the opening ceremonies. The anticipation and hype surrounding the mostly amateur tournament is always great and the chance to see these great athletic individuals  showing off their years of training is truly amazing and remarkable.

For some, they prefer the skiing events….others would rather tune in for bobsled, luge, speed skating or even {gasp} curling. For us here at Eyes On Isles, we of course focus on the only sport that really matters. Ice hockey.

With many of the National Hockey League’s brightest stars making the trip sans families (due to security concerns) and staying in cramped quarters that resemble some of the United States and Canada’s worst cities and provinces, the challenges will be many. Not to mention automatically adjusting their internal clocks early in the tournament to nine hours ahead of eastern standard time.

We will have your complete group and team by team previews coming up in the next couple of days that will focus on who we think will make the biggest impacts and be chomping on the gold medal at the end of the two and a half week competition.

For now, let’s draw some attention to the nuances that make this different from the regular grind you have followed and watched over the past 4 months. Consider this your viewing guide to the men’s hockey tournament.

Game Times : As mentioned, Sochi is nine hours ahead of New York EDT. That means most games will be on television (NBC, NBC Sports Network, USA, MSNBC and CNBC) between the hours of 7am and 10am. The United States will play three preliminary round games at 7:30, 7am and 7:15am.

Metro participation: The New York Islanders will be sending John Tavares (Canada), Thomas Vanek (Austria), Lubomir Visnovsky (Slovakia – will not play) and Michael Grabner (Austria). The Rangers send Rick Nash (Canada), Mats Zuccarello (Norway), Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden), Carl Hagelin (Sweden), Ryan McDonagh (USA), Ryan Callahan (USA) and Derek Stepan (USA). The Devils will be represented by Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Marek Zidlicky (Czech Republic), Patrik Elias (Czech Republic) and Damien Brunner (Switzerland).

NHL Trade Freeze: National Hockey League general managers can talk during the Olympic break but trades and roster moves are completely frozen from Friday, February 7 at 3pm thru midnight on Wednesday, February 26.

Home Advantage?: Russia won gold in ice hockey nine times between 1956 and 1988. After their last win in 1992, they have not won the top prize in the competition since.

Group Play: There are three four team groups in the competition. Each team plays three preliminary games in the group stage (one against each team). Unlike the NHL, 3 points are garnered for a regulation win, two points for overtime/shootout wins, one point for losing in overtime/shootout and no points for a regulation loss.

The top team in each group plus the highest point total among the 2nd place teams will get a bye as the medal round kicks off. The other eight teams face off in single elimination. The winners will play the teams who received a bye in the quarter-finals. From that point, you must win out to capture gold.

Key Differences from NHL Rules: There are some subtle and not so subtle changes to the way the IIHF governs Olympic hockey comparative to the NHL.

  • Ice size: Olympic ice rinks are 210 feet long by 98 feet wide, bigger than the 200-foot by 85-foot NHL rink. Olympians get an extra two feet from the boards to the goal line specifically.
  • Bench strength: Olympic teams can dress 20 skaters and two goalies, while NHL teams are limited to 18 skaters and two goalies.
  • Fighting: Players get a match penalty and booted from the game for fighting in an Olympics game.

Sit back and enjoy the best the world has to offer in the greatest sport on ice…look for our group previews coming soon.

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