• Accuscore Olympic Ice Hockey 2018 Preview & Prediction

    Winter Olympics 2018 - Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

    The Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea are well on their way and men’s ice hockey starts rolling today. With no NHL players involved, and bunch of Russian athletes banned, it will be an intriguing tournament mostly with players earning their pay in European leagues.

    Participating countries include the usual big six Canada, Olympic athletes from Russia, Sweden, USA, Finland and Czech Republic, who are once again the favorites even without their NHL players. The challengers Switzerland, Germany, Slovakia and Norway are perhaps lacking international big names, but have gathered their teams from mostly domestic league players who know each other well. The dozen is completed by Slovenia, who are unlikely to pose any challenge this time around and hosts South Korea, with a team including only players from Asian leagues and hence definite pushovers.

    The tournament format has been widely criticized but at least it emphasizes participation in Olympic spirit. The 12 teams are divided into three groups, within which four teams play once against each other. The winners of the group and the best no.2 head straight to top-8, while the rest play a knockout round for the four remaining spots. While the system is fair and guarantees at least four games to each team, the group stage games are, in fact, pointless since all of the teams head to playoffs anyway.

    Accuscore’s simulations on Olympic Ice Hockey tournament are based on team and player statistics from past national tournaments and adjusted player statistics from different national leagues. While the science is complex as comparison between the leagues is all but straightforward, the simulations are quite close to those predictions set by the betting companies. However, there are a couple of surprises as always! Here’s how Accuscore’s simulations predict the Olympic Ice Hockey 2018 tournament to go:

    Accuscore's Olympic Ice Hockey 2018 Preview & Prediction

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    Expert Analysis

    As previously stated the table is set for the big ice hockey nations to take advantage of their excellent depth in competitive European leagues. It’s no surprise that Canada and the Olympic athletes from Russia are likely to take their groups by storm. While Canada has often trusted NHL-players in World Championships, their European quality has increased significantly as of late. Russia, playing without national banners, have a well gelled team with players only from three top clubs in KHL and featuring such names as Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and Vadim Shipachyov. Sweden’s player production to NHL has been out of this planet lately, so no surprise they’ve massive amount of quality in Europe as well. While the Finnish team seems a bit dull from the edges, they’ve proved to be always competitive in international level and have great depth which might come in handy with extremely tight schedule. Czech Republic and USA have quite similar teams, with quality on top but probably little bit lacking in depth – same goes with Switzerland, icing a squad solely from their domestic league, which arguably still pales in comparison to Swedish and Russian (Kontinental Hockey League) leagues.

    Surprises in the simulations come from lower in the tables. While Germany’s domestic league DEL is competitive, it’s still mostly because of foreign players. Their loss to Norway – in overtime – is still a shocker, since Norwegians come mostly from not-so-great domestic league. The difference is tiny, though and Germany then goes on to beat Switzerland in the playoffs, if only after overtime. As predicted by many, South Korea joins in only for show and Slovenia can’t do much better. Slovakiais competitive at first, but can’t match USA in group stages and then run out of gas against the surprisingly feisty team Norway in the playoffs.

    Quarterfinals are not likely to provide any shockers and the top four is as quite normal. In the semifinal, though the Russian team surprisingly stumble to the Swedes who then head to even matched final with Canada. Their encounter is – once again – close to a coin toss, but Canadians eventually prevail. In bronze game Russian’s overcome the Finns by small margin and make history by winning the first ice hockey medal for fabricated “Olympic athletes from Russia” team.

  • Accuscore's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship 2019 - Knockout Stage

    The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships 2019 have reached the playoff-stage after two intense weeks of preliminary round hockey. In our pre-tournament prediction we had the correct eight teams to progress to the knockout-stage, albeit it was not that difficult pick this time around.

    First time since forever, however, the newly promoted teams did not head straight back down. Both Italy and Great Britain managed to beat their counterparts in the final game of the preliminary round and sent down Austria and France respectively. That was the biggest surprise of the World Championship hockey so far.

    In the quarterfinals we see some huge matchups already. Russia is facing their lifelong nemesis USA, while Finland takes on their neighboring Sweden. Canada will face Switzerland and last but not least, Czech Republic will battle it out against Germany.

    Russia won each and every one of their seven preliminary round games without much trouble and is the only team to do so in this year’s tournament. They scored 37 goals and only allowed seven. In the last group stage game they beat the reigning double-champion Sweden, boasting a hefty 21 NHL-players, by a score of 7-4. Needless to say the Russians are clear favorites to take the trophy home.

    In the other group, Canada captured the 1st spot despite losing to Finland in the opening affair. Gradually improving, Team Canada only allowed one goal in their final three games and recorded a 36-11 goal difference in seven games. Canada is, as always, serious contenders for the trophy.

    Czech Republic and Finland took the 2nd place in their respective groups – a feat not expected from either of the teams. Both teams were solid in the back, while the Czechs scored 39 goals as compared to Finland’s 22. Czechs lost to Russia and Finland suffered an overtime loss to USA and were dumbfounded 2-4 by the relentless Germany in the last game of the preliminary round, costing them the top spot.

    Sweden fell to third in their group after a loss to Czech Republic and a disastrous display to leaders Russia, where they lost the second period 6-0. However, the Swedish team is close to as strong as ever, with NHL players filling the roster. The best is yet to be seen from the Swedes and on paper the team is as good as Russia and Canada.

    While Switzerland showed some entertaining ice hockey throughout the tournament, their effort in the end left some questions in the air. They took narrow losses from all the top-3 teams of the group and were left fourth once again. There’s talent and speed in the team, but will it be enough to take down the likes of Canada? Probably not.

    Same goes for Germany, who made a magnificent comeback against the hosting Slovakia to oust them from the knockout-spot and then went on to beat Finland to climb over USA to 3rd spot - and dropping the Finns from the top of the group. Germany has a strong and relentless team, headlined by NHL’ers Leon Draisaitl and goalie Philipp Grubauer. They already surprised many in the Olympics and have nothing to lose once again.

    With not too many surprises so far, it looks like the quarterfinals might have some – especially compared to the oddsmakers views. Here’s how Accuscore’s simulation engine predicts the probabilities until the very end of the tournament:

    Accuscore's IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship 2019 Knockout Stage

    Championship Odds

    Even if Russia is the team to win it all according to Accuscore’s simulated bracket, the tournament format allows Canada to be the actual favorites to take the trophy! Canada has a lot easier opponent in the first and the second game in the knockout stages, as they face Switzerland and then potentially Czech Republic. Russia will have their work cut out for them already against USA, not to mention Sweden in the semi-final. They are, however, likely to beat Canada if only by a slim margin.


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