The other two teams in Canada’s group will face off in the wee hours of the morning in North America when Austria faces Finland
AUSTRIA VS FINLAND
3:00 AM EST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet
Here’s how the two teams match up:
GOALTENDING: Finland’s biggest strength in this tournament will be goaltending, as they have the deepest netminding in the field. Two of their goalies have Stanley Cup wins in Antti Niemi and Tuukka Rask. Rask will get the start in the opener. Austria will have no comparable to Rask in the pipes.
DEFENSE: The Finns have a nice mix of veteran (Kimmo Timonen, Sami Salo) and youth (Olli Maatta, Sami Vatanen) on their roster, while the Austrians don’t have an NHL name among their group. Andre Lakos played junior in Canada and is a veteran, bringing his 6’8″ and will have to be a force.
Teemu Selanne is pretty much the last of the old guard still around this team, with the likes of Mikael Granlund and Aleksander Barkov ready to take the torch. Missing players like Mikko Koivu really hurt the Finnish depth, but it should not be a factor against Austria. The three NHL players on the Austrian roster are all up front, led by Thomas Vanek. He, Michael Grabner and Michael Raffl are going to have to dazzle for the Austrians to compete.
This one could be closer than many people think. Finland doesn’t have the offensive talent to blow many teams away, but will stay close to some of the top teams with their grit and checking style.
PREDICTION: Rask won’t let many by him in this tournament, and that starts from the very beginning. Finland 3-1.