Rob The Hockey Guy

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Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Finland

Team Finland

In my final Olympic preview (Rob will finish things off with a look at team Canada tomorrow) I take a look at the country with the most medals in Olympic hockey with NHL participation: Team Finland.

Recent History

Team Finland won a bronze medal in Vancouver with a victory over Slovakia. Finland is no stranger to the podium, winning medals at 4 of the last 5 Olympics; however they have never won a gold medal.

Round Robin Opponents

Finland will be competing in group B along with Canada, Norway, and Austria.

Roster Prediction

Forwards

KoivuSelanne

Finland has a hard working forward group that is thin on high end skill. Led by Mikko Koivu, the Finns will need to be opportunistic to score enough to compete with the likes of Canada, Russia, Sweden, and the United States. A couple of Finnish legends will likely be appearing in their final Olympics: Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu will be back for one last crack at Olympic gold. Youngster Mikael Granlund should be appearing in his first Olympics, and will be one of the key contributors for team Finland.

Jussi Jokinen – Mikko Koivu – Teemu Selanne

Valtteri Filppula – Olli Jokinen – Mikael Granlund

Leo Komarov – Saku Koivu – Tuomo Ruutu

Lauri Korpikoski – Petri Kontiola – Juhamatti Aaltonen

Aleksander Barkov

Sean Bergenheim

Defence

Sami_Salo

The Finns have a mix of young and old on the blue line.  Leading the charge are veterans Kimmo Timonen and Sami Salo (if he isn’t injured when the tournament rolls around). Finland will also need steady play from youngsters Sami Vatanen and Olli Maata. Finland’s defence is outmatched against the other contenders, but their goaltending will make them look better than they are. Longtime national team member Joni Pitkanen would be a lock for the team, but he’s dealing with a potential career ending injury.

Kimmo Timonen – Sami Salo

Ossi Vaananen – Sami Vatanen

Olli Maata – Sami Lepisto

Rasmus Ristolainen

Lasse Kukkonen

Goaltending

Rask_Finland

Goaltending is a huge area of concern for Finland, as there’s serious worry the coaches of the team will be sleep deprived and ineffective from having to pick a starter between Tuukka Rask, Pekka Rinne, and Kari Lehtonen. Finland is a goalie factory, so much so that the guys left off the team would be starters for a few of the contenders (Russia would love to borrow Antti Niemi). Rask gets the nod from me, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of their three goalies play. Superb goaltending will keep the Finns competitive in every game and make them a legitimate medal threat.

Tuukka Rask

Pekka Rinne

Kari Lehtonen

Most likely to get snubbed

Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi is a glaring omission, but with Finland’s insane goaltending depth, he’ll have to watch from home. Ville Leino is another notable that will not make the team.  His play has been on the decline since signing a big contract with Buffalo a couple of seasons ago (he currently has no goals and one assist, playing less than 13 minutes for a terrible Sabres team).

Outlook

With the ridiculous goaltending the Finns have to choose from, they’re once again a legitimate medal threat with an outside chance at gold. As good as their goaltending is, the rest of the roster lags too far behind the other top contenders for me to see them making the gold medal game. Ultimately, I see them ending up in a low scoring bronze medal game that could go either way.

Other Roster Previews:

November 11: Russia

November 12: USA

November 13: Sweden

November 14: Czech Republic

November 18: Slovakia

November 19: Switzerland

November 20: Finland

November 21: Canada

November 26: Latvia

November 28: Austria

December 2: Norway

December 3: Slovenia

Don’t agree? Tell Tyler on Twitter: @WildeCanucks

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10 Response to Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Finland

  1. RobTheHockeyGuy on November 20, 2013

    Wait a minute… Komarov isn't Russian?!

    Reply
  2. Joacim Antikainen on November 20, 2013

    Nope, just like Matt Niskanen isn’t finnish and Eric Nystrom isn’t swedish ;)
    Look for Finland to pull an upset win in the playoff rounds, they seem to find ways to come out of the olympics with a medal. My prediction is that they reach the semis, where they lose a close game to big brother (and rival) Sweden. Sweden go on to play for the gold against Canada. Finland faces off with USA for the bronze!

    Reply
  3. Joacim Antikainen on November 20, 2013

    Nope, just like Matt Niskanen isn’t finnish and Eric Nystrom isn’t swedish ;)
    Look for Finland to pull an upset win in the playoff rounds, they seem to find ways to come out of the olympics with a medal. My prediction is that they reach the semis, where they lose a close game to big brother (and rival) Sweden. Sweden go on to play for the gold against Canada. Finland faces off with USA for the bronze!

    Reply
  4. Joacim Antikainen on November 20, 2013

    Nope, just like Matt Niskanen isn’t finnish and Eric Nystrom isn’t swedish ;)
    Look for Finland to pull an upset win in the playoff rounds, they seem to find ways to come out of the olympics with a medal. My prediction is that they reach the semis, where they lose a close game to big brother (and rival) Sweden. Sweden go on to play for the gold against Canada. Finland faces off with USA for the bronze!

    Reply
    • Marc on January 7, 2014

      I think sweden will choke this year i see

      For gold medal canada – usa
      And for bronze finland-russia

      5th sweden
      6th swiss
      7th slovakia
      8th tcheck

      Reply
  5. Will Finland Win Gold In Hockey? | Thrive Sports on December 4, 2013

    […] Read more at robthehockeyguy.com […]

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  6. 1995Globen on December 23, 2013

    As Erkka Westerlunds coaching tactics are bit different than former coach Jukka Jalonen, (Westerlund goes for 2 off and 2 def lineups, Jalonen 4 allaround/off) I think Aaltonen wont be on 4th line. There'll be someone bit more defensive player, maybe Jesse Joensuu from Edmonton or Teemu Hartikainen from KHL

    Reply
  7. Sochi Olympic Medal Count: #19 Finland - EveryJoe on March 3, 2014

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