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Is Olympic Hockey Better than the NHL?

Olympic hockey is setting records, and creating buzz while the NHL is on break.

The USA-Russia contest that was decided in a shootout last Saturday was the most watched hockey game on the NBC Sports Network (4.1 million total viewers, and 6.4 million during the last half hour) and Tuesday’s USA-Czech contest was the second most streamed event in NBC Sports Live Extra history.

Meanwhile, the 2014 Winter Classic, one of the biggest games of the NHL season, averaged 4.4 million viewers. 

The numbers support both Olympic and NHL hockey, but why do people care more when their country is skating to be crowned the World’s Best in the Olympics?

One, people love to represent their country. In the NHL, there are Chicago Blackhawks fans, Detroit Red Wings fans, Pittsburgh Penguins fans, Boston Bruins fans, and 26 other teams to cheer for. But in the Olympics, people aren’t just fans. People come together to root for one team.

So, there’s pride on the line. Win or lose, Olympic hockey players can say they played for their country. It’s purely for the love of their country!

The Olympics make you proud to American, Canadian, Russian, Swedish, Finnish, Czech, Latvian, or whichever country you represent.

Two, every second counts in the Olympics. In the NHL season, there’s 82 games, plus the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Olympics are once every four years, and are only two weeks long. Olympic hockey players get so many chances to win a gold medal. As you saw in the Women’s USA vs. Canada gold medal game on Friday, every inch matters.

This was how close the American women were from a puck crossing an empty net that would of more than likely won the gold medal. However, the United States women fell in overtime, 3-2 to Canada.

Via Twitter/@NBCOlympics

It’s games like the Women’s Gold Medal game that excites players and fans, alike. Everything is on the line, and everyone is cheering for one team.

Third, the game is faster. The ice is bigger, (200 x 100 in the Olympics, 200 x 85 in the NHL) which allows players to have more space to create plays. Shootouts are more exciting too. One player, like T.J. Oshie against Russia last weekend, can take all the shots.

Whether you agree or disagree, Olympic hockey is special.

Enjoy this weekend’s games. The Canadians were crowned gold medal winners today, and the men’s tournament will be determined later this weekend.

Feel free to comment by emailing Sam at tastadsam@gmail.com or by tweeting to @samtastad!

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

 

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