07-23-2013, 02:00 PM
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Re: NHL players to take part in 2014 Olympics
Finland is looking to get another medal this year as well. I had no clue all these goalies were Finnish. With Rask and Rinne likely to be the top two goalies (I think they're the most talented out of a very talented bunch), and a solid defense, they could just be the team to keep an eye on for a possible upset or two.
Here's an interesting trivia question: Which country has collected the most medals since NHL players started participating in the Winter Olympics?
The answer will probably surprise a lot of people: Finland is the only country to medal three times in the four tournaments since the NHL started allowing players to represent their countries. Finland never has the most talented roster and never is considered a favorite, but strong goaltending and the ability to adhere to a defensive identity even with star players involved has served it well in an era of all-star teams.
Canada and Russia certainly will be the favorites, and Sweden, the United States and maybe the Czech Republic will be considered better bets than Finland to succeed in the tournament. That said, if the defense holds up, it could very well be another Olympics with Finland players on the medal stand.
The country has become known in hockey circles as a goaltending factory, and no team -- not even the United States -- can boast the same depth and talent at the position. Five goalies earned a spot on one of the three NHL.com rosters. Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask were on all three and seem likely to battle for the starting job, with Niklas Backstrom, Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi in the running for the third spot.
Finland's defense could look similar to its 2010 group. Four of the defensemen who were on all three NHL.com rosters -- Toni Lydman, Joni Pitkanen, Sami Salo and Kimmo Timonen -- played in the Vancouver Games. A trio of young players -- Sami Vatanen, Olli Maatta and Rasmus Ristolainen -- will try to squeeze onto the team, with veterans playing in Europe (Ossi Vaanenen) in the mix.
There might have been more dissention among Finland's forwards than at any position for any country in this NHL.com exercise. Twenty forwards were placed on at least one roster. There could be a nice mixture of essentially three generations of Finnish players -- Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, who have represented Finland for years; a group of players in their primes (Mikko Koivu, Valtteri Filppula); and a new wave of kids (Mikael Granlund, Aleksander Barkov).
Here are the projected rosters for Finland:
Look at these eyebrows. These are attack eyebrows! They could take off bottle caps!