Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Twelve teams will participate in the Olympic tournament—nine owing to their position in the 2012 IIHF World Rankings and three others (Austria, Latvia and Slovenia) by winning their respective qualification tournaments (Austria squeaking by Germany, Latvia doing the same with Kazakhstan and Slovenia beating Belarus cleanly).
Based on the teams' respective positions in those IIHF rankings, they were divided into three groups, with the winner of each group and the best non-winner in the round-robin segment getting a bye to the quarterfinals while the remaining eight teams play in a qualification round. The groups and IIHF rankings are as follows:
Group A: Russia (1), Slovakia (6), United States (7), Slovenia (18)
Group B: Finland (2), Canada (5), Norway (8), Austria (15)
Group C: Czech Republich (3), Sweden (4), Switzerland (9), Latvia (11)
The groups don't really reflect each roster's strength because they are heavily weighted on World Championship results, a tournament which competes for players every year with the NHL playoffs.
After the round-robin segment, every game is an elimination match.