The Olympics rage on in frosty Beijing, China, and as the Women’s Hockey Tournament has left group play and is moving into the elimination round, there’s plenty here to discuss.
Who Made It, and Why:
- Team Canada: Head and shoulders better than pretty much every team, this Team Canada will be assumed favorite to medal Gold until proven otherwise, which I don’t anticipate being the case.
- Team USA: Right behind Canada in terms of overall talent, they cruised in similar fashion to the Quarters with minimal effort, but got a hard wake-up call right by the end by how tough Canada truly is. Still probably a shoe-in for a place at the podium.
- Team Japan: Don’t look at them as a curiosity like they might’ve been treated as in the media of Sochi 2014. Japan has made leaps and bounds since their time in Russia, and is currently the #4 ranked nation in the world at this. All-time. They otherwise mollywhopped their group and, barring an upset loss to China, are well-equipped to possibly gun for a surprise appearance in the gold medal game.
- Team Sweden: Believe it or not, the Swedish girls are doing this Olympics on a budget, no thanks to the overarching federation slashing their funds in-between Olympiads. They’ve definitely had their struggles, but they’re still fundamentally sound enough to survive.
- Team Czechia: The Czech women’s team was the recipient of an otherwise easy schedule, only really rivalled by Japan, who took them to a shootout and ultimately beat them. Their talent is both a mix of new arrivals and hardened vets, so it shouldn’t be that hard for the girls to otherwise handle their
- Team “Not Actually Russia but Russia anyway”: Russia’s tournament was one of major swings: Beat one team bad, get beat badly the next night. They got the win necessary to play, but COVID concerns could result in them having a depleted roster for their game against Switzerland, who they previously beat, but pulled away from in the 2nd period.
- Team Finland: Getting stuck being bullied by the US and Canada meant they got to take their frustrations on the world out on Russia...but man they need to get their act together. They left their best goalie at home and they’ve been paying for it ever since.
- Team Switzerland: While they’ve been kinda rough in group play, they played Finland to a shocker win, and as a result are in the tourney...against the Rooskies. Good Luck, Herren.
Who should I know?:
Natalie Spooner, Canada: 11 points in 4 games. She’s a got dang cheat code.
Marie-Philip Poulin, Canada: One of the best to ever do it. Full stop. When clutch time arrives, she shows up and scores, or creates the game winner. If you happen to be pulling an all-nighter, you should watch her do things. It’s unreal how good she is.
Amanda Kessel, USA: Currently leading the Red, White and Blue in points with 6 in 4 games, she’s been doing quite well for herself.
Haruka Toko, Japan: Japan was generally expected to spread the wealth among their team in order to get some wins, and that’s been largely true...but Ms. Toko has been a major revelation for Smile Japan, and 5 points in 4 games is a strong line.
Nana Fujimoto, Japan: Nursing one of the best SV%’s in this tournament, former PHF star Fujimoto has been backstopping the Japanese to an absolutely incredible tournament so far. No reason to believe she won’t put on another clinic in the quarters.
Tereza Vanisova, Czechia: Vanisova has been working like a dog to get the Czechs going; currently nursing 5 points in 4 games. Time will tell if she can power them into a medal round.
What does the Elimination Round look like?
When do the Quarterfinals start?
The Quarterfinals begin this Thursday, February 10th at 8:10pm PT, with the second game starting at 12:40 am PT, with the rest of the schedule following this until the gold medal game.
Hope you’re brewing coffee or doing some late night work!
Good luck to all who made it to the qualifying rounds, and go for gold!