Feb 14, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Austria goalie Mathias Lange (24) and Austria defenseman Thomas Pock (22) defend the net against Canada forward Martin St. Louis (26) in a men's preliminary round ice hockey game during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Sochi 2014: Team Finland and Team Canada Take Center Stage in a Battle of the Undefeated (Preview)

Feb 14, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Austria goalie Mathias Lange (24) and Austria defenseman Thomas Pock (22) defend the net against Canada forward Martin St. Louis (26) in a men’s preliminary round ice hockey game during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

I think it is safe to say that this is going to be the game to watch today. When Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Sami Salo walk into the Bolshoy Ice Dome today, it will not be as teammates, but as opponents. Let’s take a look at today’s matchup between Team Finland and Team Canada.

Today is the last day of group play at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. As we head into the final day, these two teams are two of the last four undefeated teams. On top of all that, these are the two teams that have been highly regarded as the teams expected to find their way to the podium this year.

There is no denying that this is going to be a well fought game on both sides of the ice. Tampa Bay Lightning fans have a vested interest in this encounter. There are two Lightning players in this encounter; unfortunately, they are on different sides of the ice. I guess the next question is which one do you root for? If you are anything like me, you’ll just sit back and enjoy the action.

Coming into this game, Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen really held it down Team Finland on Valentine’s Day as they faced off against Team Norway. He made 20 saves on 21 shots on goal for a Save Percentage of .952.

If you judge it solely by the numbers, Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is not having quite the same success as Lehtonen, but this has not prevented Finland from rising above. On the second day of the Men’s Hockey competition, Rask stopped 16 of 20 shots against Team Austria.

However, the goaltenders on the other side of the ice are far from slouches either. In their opening day of competition, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price stopped 19 shots on 20 shots on goal in Team Canada’s 3-1 win over Team Norway. In the same respect, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was able to stop all 23 shots that were brought against him in Team Canada’s 6-0 shutout over Team Austria.

As you can see, both sides have impeccable goaltending abilities. The real question now is, which offense is more equipped to out match the other’s goaltending ability?

Team Canada has a standout in Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter. Carter put up a hat trick in Canada’s 6-0 blowout of Team Austria.

On the other side of the ice, Team Finland has a pretty well rounded group of goal scorers as well. There are 3 players on the team that have registered 2 goal games so far. Jarkko Immonen and Mikael Granlund registered two goals each in Team Finland’s 8-4 win over Team Austria and Lauri Korpikoski scored 2 goals in Finland’s 6-1 win over Team Norway.

There are a lot of games being played today in Sochi; however, I have a distinct feeling that this is going to be the game to watch; especially here in the Bolts Nation.

Team Canada are the defending Gold Medalists in the Men’s Hockey Competition; however, Team Finland did earn themselves the Bronze Medal in Vancouver in 2010. As one could imagine, once you get a taste of success, you can’t help but want to take it to the next level. Will Team Finland be able to overcome the much favorite Team Canada, or will Canada find a way to repeat their 2010 performance? I guess we’ll have to watch and see for ourselves.

 

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Tags: 2014 Winter Olympic Games Martin St Louis NHL Sami Salo Sochi Tampa Bay Lightning Team Canada Team Finland

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