The consensus is that if Finland goes deep in this Olympic tournament, it will be by keeping the score low. That said, the Finns displayed some firepower — especially early on — defeating Austria 8-4 in their Olympic opener on Thursday.
The Finns generated a 4-2 lead in the first period and added two more goals in the second and third, eventually doubling Austria up. To little surprise, the shot disparity was severe at 52-20.
Scoring was spread around pretty evenly for Finland. Mikael Granlund scored two goals and an assist to lead the way; Jarko Immonen, Petri Kontiola, Olli Maata and Sami Lepisto scored the others.
Austria’s Michael Grabner registered a hat trick in defeat.
It wasn’t all great news for Finland on the day, though. Teemu Selanne didn’t play in the last 40 minutes of the game and a trainer was seen massaging his neck on the bench during the first period. Naturally, Finland might have been playing it safe with the 43-year-old in a game that wasn’t particularly competitive (Selanne still finished with an assist), but it’s a situation to watch moving forward.
Austria is by no means a world hockey power, as its best talent is at the forward position with the likes of Thomas Vanek and Grabner. They’re unlikely to out-score their problems most nights, as opposing offenses could have a field day with goalies Bernhard Starkbaum (all eight goals allowed), Mathias Lange or Rene Swette.
With such a flawed opponent in mind, it’s difficult to take too much away from a game like this. Still, Finland made the statement it can light up the scoreboard — at least against lesser teams.