It may not have been a thrilling game to watch, but Canada’s 2-1 overtime win against Finland proved something to the Finns:
They can hang with the best in the world.
Finland captain Teemu Selanne told Olympic News Service that while a loss stinks, he knows they’ve got what it takes to win.
“We realized we can beat these guys,” said Selanne. “Obviously it’s a bad break at the end, but that’s hockey.”
The Finnish roster is a young one, but Selanne understands that hard-fought games like that teach a lesson that can carry them deeper in the tournament.
“When my teammates realized we can compete against these guys, it was a totally different game,” said Selanne. “That was a good confidence boost for us, and we can beat anybody when we play our best. Even with all the injuries that we have. That’s what happens in hockey. Just believe and do your best.”
Finland is without Mikko Koivu, Valtteri Filppula, and now Aleksander Barkov but that hasn’t slowed them down winning two out of three games in round-robin play and earning a bye into the quarterfinals. They’ll face the winner of Russia vs. Norway in that round.
Florida Panthers and Team Finland forward Aleksander Barkov could be out a bit longer after the injury he suffered against Norway.
A Finnish site reports Barkov will miss the next 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. Barkov battled a knee injury earlier this season that cost him four games.
George Richards of The Miami Herald suggests the Panthers could shut Barkov down for the year because there are eight weeks left in the season.
Barkov went into the Olympics holding down a lofty spot on a line with Mikael Granlund and Teemu Selanne. Playing with Selanne was something the 18-year-old Barkov was looking forward to doing.
While his Olympics were already shot, the blow it deals to the Panthers lineup is a tough one. Barkov had been playing on the top line in Florida and was showing he was worth the team taking him second overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Finland suffered its third significant player loss on Saturday, as the team announced prized Florida rookie Aleksander Barkov would miss the remainder of the Olympic tournament with a lower-body injury.
Barkov, 18, suffered what appeared to be a knee injury during Friday’s 6-1 win over Norway, leaving during the third period while finishing with 15:03 TOI. He was 9-of-11 in the faceoff circle against the Norwegians and, in a tournament-opening 8-4 win over Austria, went 11-of-13 and finished with an assist.
It’s worth bringing up his faceoff and assist totals because, prior to the games, Finland lost two of its best centers to injury — Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu. Both suffered ankle injuries prior to the Games, and their absences gave Barkov the opportunity to play on a line with his childhood idol, Teemu Selanne.
Barkov, Selanne and Mikael Granlund had served as Finland’s de facto No. 1 line thus far.
It’ll be interesting to see what the long-term ramifications of this injury are. Barkov’s had a very solid freshman campaign for the Panthers, sitting fifth on the team in points (24) while averaging over 17 minutes per game. But he’d already missed four games this year with a knee injury — it’s unclear if that’s related to his current issue — and it sounds as though the Florida organization isn’t happy about this latest development:
If Finland was going to get far in this tournament, the assumption was that it would be on the strength of its goaltending.
Now it appears the Finns might ride their offense.
Despite playing without the services of top centers Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula, The Finns powered their way to a 6-1 victory over Norway on Friday, just a day after their 8-4 win against Austria.
Pittsburgh phenom Olli Maata, 19, led the way for Finland with three points, while Phoenix’s Lauri Korpikoski scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner. Olli Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu also chipped in with a pair of points each.
As for the goaltending — Tuukka Rask was roughed up in the Austria contest (allowing four goals), which prompted Finland to go with Dallas Stars netminder Kari Lehtonen today. Lehtonen wasn’t challenged often, but was sharp when he needed to be, stopping 20 of 21 shots. Meanwhile, Norwegian netminder Lars Haugen was yanked after 20 minutes following a 35-save effort against Canada on Thursday.
Teemu Selanne got the game started on a positive note for Finland by scoring just 5:46 minutes into the contest. In doing so, he became the oldest player to ever find the back of the net in an Olympic game.
As impressive as Finland’s blowout victories have been, they have to be taken with a grain of salt given that they’ve come against a pair of nations that weren’t expected to do much in this tournament. Finland’s first major test will come on Sunday, when it plays against Canada to determine who will win Group B.
Norway will play against Austria on Sunday. Both of those countries are searching for their first win and simultaneously fighting for better positioning in the qualification round.
Teemu Selanne has made it clear that this will be his final season and last Olympics, but he’s not just going to fade into the sunset.
He set the tone for today’s game against Austria by finding the back of the net at 5:46 of the first period to give Finland a 1-0 lead. In doing so, he became the oldest player to ever score in the Olympics at 43 years, seven months, and 11 days, according to the IIHF.
That seems appropriate, not just because it’s another nod to his longevity, but also due to his dominance in this competition. Since the NHL started participating in the Winter Games in 1998, Selanne has led the world with 15 Olympic goals, reported Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
He also took part in the 1992 Winter Games before moving to North America and now has a total of 21 goals and 39 points in 33 Olympic games with Finland.