Gold medal game plus-minus

Some nations outshine others in medal games

23-05-10
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SAP Arena Mannheim  Germany
Will this year's Czech team get another win for its "gold medal game plus-minus"? Photo: Matthew Manor / HHOF-IIHF Images

Heading into today's World Championship final, the Czechs have historically dominated in a special category: “gold medal game plus-minus”.

Since the IIHF instituted the playoff system in 1992, six of the “Big Seven” nations have prevailed in the gold medal game. The exception is the United States, which has never made it that far.

Those same six nations have also incurred their share of finals losses. But none of them has lost every single one of its gold medal games.

In this period, although Canada has made it to more finals than any other country (nine), the Czechs have won an equal number of gold medals (five) and only lost once (to Sweden in 2006).

Accordingly, that gives the Czech Republic a world-leading “gold medal game plus-minus” of +4.

But as it so happens, the Russians, who will face off against the Czechs for gold today, are in second place at +2.

Here are the complete standings.

Czech Republic is +4 (five wins, one loss)
Russia is +2 (three wins, one loss)
Canada is +1 (five wins, four losses)
Slovakia is even (one win, one loss)
Sweden is -2 (three wins, five losses)
Finland is -5 (one win, six losses)


The same win-loss formula can be applied to bronze medal games. Here, the picture shifts radically.

Nine nations have participated in the showdown for third place since 1992: Canada, the Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia (now defunct), Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA. Today, a tenth name will be added to that list with Germany's first-time participation.

The Swiss are the only team to have cracked the bronze medal game but never to have come away with any hardware (1992, 1998).

How does historical “bronze medal game plus-minus” shape up? It paints a positive picture for Team Sweden, today's other bronze medal game participant. Tre Kronor leads the way at +2, tied with Nordic rival Finland.

Sweden is +2 (five wins, three losses)
Finland is +2 (three wins, one loss)
Czech Republic is +1 (three wins, two losses)
Czechoslovakia is + 1 (one win)
Canada is -1 (one win, four losses)
Russia is even (two wins, two losses)
Slovakia is even (one win, one loss)
USA is -1 (two wins, three losses)
Switzerland is -2 (two losses)


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