2014 Winter Olympics: Finland Men's Hockey Team Preview

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Team Kari is in trouble.

If the Olympics required teams to rotate their goalies Team Finland would be a prime candidate for the gold medal. Team Finland is stacked in goal, and given the composition of the rest of their roster they need to be.

Finland is led by the goaltending trio of Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, and Kari Lehtonen. Not competing in the Olympics are goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Niklas Backstrom. Rask should be the primary man in net. He is one of the best goaltenders, if not the best, on the planet. The Finns are apparently going to allow each of their goalies to play in a preliminary game, but when the elimination portion begins there should be little doubt about who will be in goal.

The roster does have talent, but like most non-Canadian Olympic teams they lack depth. That depth took two significant blows in the past 24 hours as both Mikko Koivu and Valtteri Filppula withdrew due to injuries. Koivu has been recovering from ankle surgery since January 6th. Filppula recently broke his ankle.

The Finns are led in spirit by the ancient Teemu Selanne. His production is slowing down finally with 44 points in his last 93 games. With both Koivu and Filppula out they will be relying heavily on the production from old man Teemu.

Other veteran forwards of note are Tuomo Ruutu, Olli Jokinen, Jussi Jokinen, and Lauri Korpikoski. The biggest offensive threat of the group should be Jussi Jokinen, This group does have some defensive ability, but the stunning lack of depth is going to be hard for them to overcome.

Defensively Team Finland is led by two NHL veterans. Kimmo Timonen and Sami Salo have tons of experience and will be relied upon as heavily on the backend as Selanne will be up front.

For Finland to medal they will likely need Rask to be the MVP of the tournament, and they will need to get big performances from some of their younger players. Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers, the #2 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, and Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild are the two young forwards to watch. Both have had solid NHL seasons, and both have serious offensive ability. The Finns will need these two young forwards to produce the way they are capable of producing if they hope to medal.

The young defenseman to watch is Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 19 year old has 23 points in his first 57 games in the NHL. He has been a breakout player as an NHL rookie, and those same offensive skills that have made him a valuable NHLer as a rookie will make him a key player in the Olympics.

The best case scenario for Finland is that Rask goes unconscious for two weeks and they sneak into a bronze medal. The more likely scenario is an early exit.

Go Kari.

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