Wednesday, December 30, 2009

V2010: Finland

Finland released their Vancouver roster and are returning 14 players from their 2006 silver-medal winning squad. That's not too shabby.

The Finns are consistently underrated because they are consistently not flashy. They work hard, they get good goaltending and have a solid stable of forwards. Leading those forwards are long-time running mates Jere Lehtinen, Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne. Saku's brother, Mikko, is actually turning into a better player than his brother ever was and will have some snipers to work with in Wild teammate Antti Miettinen and Detroit's Valtteri Filppula. The dirty Ruutu brothers return to add the sandpaper and penalty minutes while Olli Jokinen will look to do better than he has thus far this season for Calgary. Former Ranger Jarkko Immonen somehow made the roster over Carolina's Jussi Jokinen but I guess the Finns aren't planning on any shootouts.

In net Miikka Kiprusoff was named to the team, so I guess that means he got his wish and will be starting ahead of Niklas Bäckström. The star in Turin and probably the hottest of all three netminders this season, Antero Niittymäki, is the third goaltender - leaving future Finnish netminders Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask on the outside looking in.

Outside of the crease Kimmo Timonen heads up a quiet, solid blueline that has plenty of NHL experience in Sami Salo, Joni Pitkanen and Toni Lydman. They are more than capable of showing the ropes to Coyotes kid Sami Lepistö. NHL cast-offs Janne Niskala and Lasse Kukkonen add some depth.

Finland opens against Belarus on February 17th, play Germany on the 19th and Sveeeeden on the 21st. Barring an shocking upset, they will head into the next round 2-1 or even 3-0 if they get their vengeance for 2006 and for the Swedes losing the Finnish War to Russia back in 1809. (The Swedes lost and Russia occupied Finland until 1917 when they declared independence and had an ensuing civil war ... my old European history teacher Mr. Sinito would be so proud.) But, with the high powered Russian offense, Swedish netminding and Canadian ... everything, it will be tough for the Finns to regain their silver.


Anonymous said...

Do you have any insight on why Immonen wasn't given more of a chance in the NHL than he got? He had good numbers in both SM-Liiga and AHL..

Scotty Hockey said...

I don't other than what I saw - Immonen was quite slow of foot. Great hands but had trouble keeping up with the pace of the game and, frankly, he wasn't particularly good in his own end. Considering we gave up Brian Leetch for him, I would have thought he would have gotten more of a chance too but what can you do? Glen Sather and the Rangers are stupid squared.