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Three-a-days are hockey heaven

by Paul Kukla
3 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11:55 p.m. (all ET). Those are the starting times for the preliminary round of the men’s hockey games at the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Three games per day for six straight days and I am ready.

The calendar has been cleared and the remote control to the TV is not needed and as a viewer of NHL games on a regular, nightly basis, I could not be happier.

Trying to watch multiple games at one time can be a burden, a chore and truthfully, quite interesting. Click, click, expand the picture-in-picture then shrink it, then click again, hit the reverse button on the DVR, pause, fast forward, etc. … You see how easy it is to get confused. At times, I lose track of what teams are even playing, I am just watching and getting more confused.

But not this time, one game, one game only, then some downtime, another game, a little more downtime, then the final game of the night.

Sure, I will be staying up a little bit longer than usual, but I can afford to sleep in a little longer too. So it all works out, perfectly.

Will we witness a monumental upset? Will some unknown player become a star of the Games? Will expected, dominant teams somehow cave to the pressure that is being placed on them and lose a game or maybe even two?

We are about to find out and I will be watching.

These preliminary round games are just the beginning for us hockey fans.

Next Tuesday we have the qualification playoff, followed by the quarterfinal round Wednesday, the semifinal round Friday and then the bronze-medal game Saturday and the gold-medal game Sunday.

Following the gold-medal game, we will be witnessing a great celebration party somewhere in the world. Will Canada be able to party on home ice? Will USA parties erupt in hockey mad cities across the USA? Or will we be watching the Russians or Swedes celebrating in cities that are foreign to most of us? We could also witness a team not expected to win the gold, do just that. It has happened before and it could happen again. Just imagine what the party would be like in that country!

Whatever the outcome, I will be watching.

I think the NHL-sized rink will be an early advantage to teams like Canada, Russia, Sweden and Team USA since the majority of the players on those teams are current NHL players. But other teams will catch on quickly and after a game or two, the rink size will no longer be in play. Then it will become a tournament defined by grit, determination, lucky bounces, a hot goalie and the unknown- key injuries and how a team can adjust.

The buildup starts today and for the next 13 days, hockey will once again be on our minds. We will soon have questions answered, we may lose our voice screaming when victory is within reach or we may suffer disappointment if our ‘home’ team suffer a loss.

Whatever the outcome, I recommend you watch as many games as possible. If you happen to have tickets to the games, remember to represent us, the fans unable to actually witness an Olympic hockey game live and in-person.

To all the other fans worldwide who will be watching the games on TV -- invite some friends over, let them share the emotions we are about to experience and besides, they just may bring over a great appetizer or beverage that may enhance your viewing pleasure.

Enjoy the games everyone and may the best team win!

In case you are not aware of the preliminary round schedule, you can view it here.

Hockey fans worldwide can view what network is covering the Olympic Games in your country.

Any questions or comments? Feel free to email me at or follow me on Twitter.

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