If you remember the format that the International Ice Hockey Federation followed for the men's hockey tournament at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics then the following simply will be a refresher. However, if you can't recall that tournament or the format, then we've got you covered.
Here is all the information you need to know about the teams, dates and format for the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics:
Group A: Russia (RUS), Slovakia (SVK), United States (USA), Slovenia (SLO)
Group B: Finland (FIN), Canada (CAN), Norway (NOR), Austria (AUT)
Group C: Czech Republic (CZE), Sweden (SWE), Switzerland (SUI), Latvia (LAT)
Preliminary round: Feb. 12-16
Qualification playoff: Feb. 18
Quarterfinals: Feb. 19
Semifinals: Feb. 21
Bronze medal game: Feb. 22
Gold-medal game: Feb. 23
This is group play so each country will play every country in their group once, equaling three games per country and 18 games in total.
The IIHF follows a three-point system per game. Teams will receive three points for a win in regulation and zero points for a regulation loss. Each team receives one point if the game goes to overtime and a second point is awarded to the team that wins in the five-minute overtime or the shootout.
The top four teams based on where they finish in the group and highest number of points in the preliminary round will receive byes into the quarterfinals and be considered the home team in that round. The IIHF will refer to the four teams as 1D, 2D, 3D and 4D.
The tie-breaking procedure can come down to goal-differential, higher numbers of goals-for, and finally which country had a better 2013 IIHF world ranking.
The bottom eight teams will play in the qualification playoff with the winners moving on to the quarterfinals. The teams are ranked 5-12 based on how they finished in the preliminary round and referred to as 5D, 6D, 7D, 8D, 9D, 10D, 11D and 12D. The games are referred to as E1 through E4:
E1: 5D vs. 12D
E2: 6D vs. 11D
E3: 7D vs. 10D
E4: 8D vs. 9D
The four winning teams move on to the quarterfinals; the four losing teams will be ranked 9-12 according to their ranking after the preliminary round.
These games are referred to as F1 through F4 and the four teams that had byes based on their performance in the preliminary round (1D, 2D, 3D and 4D) are considered the home teams:
F1: 1D vs. winner of Qualification Playoff Game E4
F2: 2D vs. w/o E3
F3: 3D vs. w/o E2
F4: 4D vs. w/o E1
The winning teams move on to the semifinals; the losing teams are ranked five through eight according to their ranking after the preliminary round.
The winners of the quarterfinals play in the semifinals to determine who plays in the medal round. The winners of the semifinal-round games move onto the gold-medal game; the losers play in the bronze-medal game:
w/o F1 vs. w/o F4
w/o F2 vs. w/o F3
The losers of the semifinal-round games play for the bronze medal Feb. 22.
The winners of the semifinal-round games play for the gold-medal Feb. 23.
For the preliminary round these are similar to what they are in the NHL; a five-minute overtime session of 4-on-4 play with the teams defending the same end they defended in the third period. If no goal is scored the game moves to a shootout.
The length of the overtime session increases in the playoff rounds.
Overtime will be 10 minutes of sudden-death play in the qualification round, the quarterfinals, semifinals and bronze-medal game. In the gold-medal game a 20-minute sudden death overtime session will commence after a 15-minute break. Teams also will change ends for overtime in the gold-medal game.
The shootout procedure is different from the NHL. In the Olympics coaches can re-use shooters that already have attempted a shot if no winner is determined through the first three rounds of the shootout.
Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer