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No NHL players means more mistakes and goals at Olympics

Pyeongchang Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Patrick Hager (50), of Germany, shoots the puck past goalie Lars Haugen (30), of Norway, for a goal in the penalty shootout during the preliminary round of the men’s hockey game at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AP

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — Hockey is a game of mistakes and it’s on display in fine form at the Olympics.

It doesn’t look beautiful, of course, with players all outside the NHL turning the puck over for point-blank scoring chances or leaving opponents wide open in front. The talent level is lower, so the risk factors and the entertainment level are up. Goaltenders have to be on their toes for unexpected, game-saving stops even more than usual.

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“It’s a short tournament: A few mistakes can decide your fate,” Finland goaltender Karri Ramo said Saturday. “You try to create more than carry it out of the zone, so obviously teams are trying to keep the puck and create scoring chances, so those mistakes happen. You’re not going to win if you play safe.”

There’s not a whole lot of safe, low-risk play so far, and scoring has increased as a result. After each team played twice, games were averaging 5.1 goals, up from 4.7 in Sochi with NHL players on the rosters.

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