Losing in the semi finals sucks, but the only thing worse than that is letting the disappointment of not playing for Gold get in the way of winning the bronze. The bronze medal game is tough to play, but ask anyone who has been involved that it is much better to win the game and go home with something than to lose it and leave empty-handed
FINLAND vs USA
BRONZE MEDAL GAME
SAT, Feb 22nd, 10:00 am EST
Here is how the teams match up:
GOALTENDING: Tuukka Rask missed the Finland loss to Sweden in the semi-final, apparently suffering from the flu. Whether or not he would be available for the bronze medal game isn’t certain, so the Finns will likely turn back to Kari Lehtonen. The US will most likely keep running with Jonathan Quick, who was stellar in the 1-0 loss to Canada
DEFENSE: The absence of Paul Martin for the semi-final was a big blow, although reports were mixed about why he missed the game, with some reporting illness while other stated it was an injured hand. They still have a solid blue line led by Ryan Suter. The Finns are led by the veteran Kimmo Timonen and young Olli Maatta.
FORWARDS: The US has scored pretty much at will until being stymied by the deep Canada defense and Carey Price. Phil Kessel still leads the tournament in scoring (tied with Erik Karlsson) and he and the other American forwards should have an easier time with the less physical Finnish defense. Finland has scored more than many would have expected in this tournament, but their injuries up the middle seem to have taken their toll. This will likely be the last game of Teemu Selanne‘s storied international career.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Finland’s penalty kill has been its weakness for the whole tournament, and the winning goal in the semi-final off the stick of Karlsson came while Sweden was on the power play. You aren’t going to win many games in any league with a 60% penalty kill.
PREDICTION: Finland has won a medal in more Olympics in the NHL era than any team. They have bronze medals from 1998 and 2010, so they know about what it takes to let go of the disappointment, and a silver from 2006. The US hasn’t played in a bronze medal game since 1992, in the pre-NHL era. On talent alone the US should win, but their mission was gold and that will obviously not happen. How they react is anyone’s guess, but they have enough character in the room to bounce back. US takes the bronze.