Ramble About Hypothetical Hockey Results…

I can’t believe it’s been 4 days since the last Grey’s episode and I still didn’t get around writing my review. The next episode might air before I get around to do it *sigh* But the last few days have been insanely busy with work and the election in our state of North-Rhine-Westfalia (which matters a lot to me because of my involvment with the Green Party) and of course with the icehockey world championship. I had actually planned to watch Brothers & Sisters tonight, but I’ll be going to bed shortly after this post is up. I’m so exhausted…

I promised to shed some light on the craziness of group D of the 2010 IIHF Icehocky World Championship. I’ve been reading quite a few “Germany HAS to beat Denmark now” tweets, news, comments, whatever throughout the day. None of those seem to mention that the USA has to beat Finland tomorrow just as much as we have to beat Denmark. I don’t want to sound too optimistic or even arrogant, but the situation group D is really tricky and everything is indeed still possible. After a few background information, I’ll explain how I see it.

There are 16 teams at the Icehockey World Championship in four groups with four teams each in the preliminary round. The seeding into these groups is based the World Ranking (which is based on the teams performance at the last couple of World Championships etc). So there are usually two teams from world rank 1 – 8 in each group and two teams from the rank 09 – 16. After playing a round-robin, the top three teams in each group advanced to the Qualifying Round. The last team in each group competed in the Relegation Round.

The points calculation for the group ranking is based on the system used in most European leagues and the Russian league.

Win in regulation time: 3 points
Win in overtime or shootout: 2 points
Loss in regulation time: 0 points
Loss in overtime or shootout: 1 point

So much for background information, now on to the craziness that’s group D.  The teams (and world rank) in group D are:

Finland (4)
USA (5)
Germany (12)
Denmark (13)

Finland and USA have always been and obviously still are among the best hockey nations. No matter how many NHL stars are missing, because they still complete in the 2010 playoffs, these two teams were usually expected to advance to the semi-final of this tournament. And of course it was expected that the FIN – USA game would determine who would win group D and who would come second. It was also expected that the GER – DEN game would determine who would end up on 4th and would have to move on to the relegation round. Thus the mantra for us has always been: We HAVE to beat Denmark. And basically that’s still true, even though it’s all surprisingly messed up.

We beat USA in OT in game 1. (2 points for us, 1 for the USA) Denmark beat Finland in regulation time in game 2 (3 points Denmark, 0 points Finland)! The favourites for the group win group were stumbling right at the start. Which was a lot of fun in game 1, but to see the one team we had to beat in the end (Denmark) with such a strong performance against Finland was scary.
The “If Denmark can do it, so can we” mantra I try to concentrate on all weekend didn’t help much either, because in the end we couldn’t do what they did. We lost against Finland last night (0 points for us, 3 points Finland). Yesterday afternoon the Danes, those crazy, crazy, crayz Danes beat USA in OT as well. (2 points Denmark, 1 points USA).

So before the last two games in group D tomorrow the ranking is so not what it would have been expected to be (seen teams world ranking above). Instead it’s pretty much  upside down:

1. Denmark: 5 PT / +4 GD (Goal difference)
2. Finland: 3 PT / – 2 GD
3. Germany: 2 PT / 0 GD
4. USA: 2 PT / -2 GD

Tomorrow afternoon we play against Denmark, in the evening the USA will play against Finland. And really anything in possible. If we beat Denmark in regulation time, we’d have 5 PT as well, probably a lower GD, so they’ll always be one rank above us. Unless we beat them with 5:0, which I honestely don’t see happening :-) If we beat them 4:0 we might move ahead, because of the result of the game against each other is in our favour. Either way we have to beat them tomorrow.

But… and that’s a quite important but and something I’ve missed in the online comments so far: The pressure on the USA to win against Finland tomorrow is even bigger than the pressure on our team. Because even if we lose against Denmark and end up with only 2 PT, but so would the USA, if they lose against Finland tomorrow. It would then come down to the goal difference, which right now is in our favour, just like the direct result is in our favour. Of course we don’t stand a chance if we lose against Denmark and the USA gets one or more points in the game against Finland. And then of course there is the whole thing with different points awarded for a win after 60 min or in OT etc, so  the ranking could still end up quite differently.

The only thing that’s for sure is, that Denmark could only drop down to 4th if they lose against us AND if the USA beat Finland with 6:0 or more and I’d say, that’s highly improbable. After their loss against Denmark, Finland found the way back to their usual strength. The USA had to struggle a bit against us and Denmark, obviously, so I keep my fingers crossed for them to have to struggle against Finland as well. Sorry, readers and hockeyfans in the USA, but if it comes down to it, I’m rather selfish and want MY team to succeed, even if the other team might be better/stronger :-) And like I stated above any point the USA might get in their last game crushes our chances.But a USA loss would put us on the safe side, even if we lose against Denmark.

If on the other hand the USA would beat Finland AND we would beat Denmark, the USA would have 5 PT, so would we AND Denmark. So Finland would end up on 4th, which would seem so so wrong as well. Just as wrong (as in unexpected, not as in undeserved) as Denmark on 1st still seems to me. Anything’s still possible…

Was anyone able to follow this “points, goal difference and hypothetical results” ramble? Congrats if you could. Don’t worry if you couldn’t and if reading all this just gave you a headache and the feeling your brain might explode. Because then you know exactly what I’m feeling right now. All these possiblities. But that’s what makes it so so exciting to be a hockey fan in times like these…

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