Olympic Hockey Preview: Canada vs Finland

The automatic quarterfinal spot for the Group B winner will be determined when the two undefeated clubs square off on Sunday.



Sunday Feb 16th, 12:00 noon EST



Here is how the teams match up:



GOALTENDING:  Tuukka Rask will likely get the call for the Finns despite allowing 4 goals in his only start and teammate Kari Lehtonen allowing just one in his start.  Canada has an equally difficult decision as both Carey Price and Roberto Luongo were solid despite not being overly busy in their respective starts


DEFENSE:  Both of these teams are getting offense from the blue line, with Olli Maatta and Sami Vatanen each having 4 points in 2 games.  For Canada, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty each scored in both of Canada’s first 2 games.  In terms of overall skill as well as depth, there is probably not a blue line as strong as Canada in the tournament.



FORWARDS:  Finland was dealt a blow with the news that top centre Aleksander Barkov would miss the rest of the tournament after sustaining a knee injury against Norway on Friday.  For a team already without Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu and Valteri Filppula this injury really weakens the Finns up the middle.  Olli Jokinen and Jussi Jokinen are the only natural centres remaining on the roster. Canada’s depth up the middle is second to none and that is where this game will be won. Canada is still waiting for a breakout game from Sidney Crosby, and that is bound to happen at some point soon.  Jeff Carter, after a subpar first game, bounced back with a natural hat trick in game 2, while Patrick Marleau leads the team with 4 points.



With the overtime game between the US and Russia on Saturday, it means that unless this game also goes to extra time that the loser will have to play a qualifier on Monday and not get the 4th automatic bid.  It also means that the winner (assuming it is in regulation) will go into the quarterfinals as the #1 seed based on goal differential.


PREDICTION:  This is the first real test for both teams and there is a lot on the line.  Finland has scored more than anyone thought they would, but this is a different animal than they have faced.  Canada 4-2.

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Tags: Aleksander Barkov Canada Finland Jeff Carter Olympic Hockey Preview

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