Sunday, May 11, 2008

Team Canada World Hockey Championships 2008 - Finland vs. Canada Pregame

Well, Canada made short work of Germany on Saturday, obliterating them 10-1. It was nice to see the Canadians dominate in every aspect of the game so thoroughly, but I couldn't help but feel bad for the Germans. After the second goal they very uncharacteristically lost their composure and Canada just kept coming. Staal with 4 goals, St. Louis with 5 assists and even Spezza with a goal.

The real game to watch this weekend was this afternoon's tilt between Team USA and Finland. The Americans go into the final frame with a 2 goal lead but completely melt down after a bizarro world goal review gives Finland a shred of hope. Ville Koistinen puts one through the side of the net and the goal review judge calls it a legit goal (he was later fired...seriously). The Americans are absolutely incensed (and rightfully so) and proceed to completely melt down. James Wisniewski takes an absolutely idiotic penalty when he hits Tuomo Ruutu well after the whistle and the comeback is complete.

The game gets even crazier as the final whistle blows.

At the end of the game there was a melee with players getting into physical confrontations, including a fight between David Backes and Anssi Salmela, who was bloodied. Both received match penalties...

Matt Greene and Antti-Jussi Niemi both received leaving the bench penalties and game misconducts. Teemu Selanne was assessed roughing minors; Dustin Brown was assessed a checking to the head and neck minor and a misconduct...

For Jokinen, Backes, and Salmela, their match penalties draw an automatic one-game suspension. All three will miss their team's next game, and their actions are subject to automatic review which will take place on Tuesday, the day before the quarter-finals...

Jokinen and Salmela will be lost for Finland's next game against Canada to decide the winner of Group F. Backes will be lost for Team USA's game against Norway....(IIHF)

It gets even crazier when you consider that if Team USA loses to Norway tommorow then it will be Norway who moves onto the quarterfinal. We all know that Norway should not be taken lightly.

All of this does have some consequences for Canada's game against the Finns on Monday. Firstly, the Finns are second in the pool with 11 pts (to Canada's 12) so this matchup affects who will place first in the pool.

This is not the first time the two teams have met in this tournament. The Finns beat Canada in and exhibition game 4-2 and a very consistent effort. Finland put in a pretty consistent effort today against Team USA today, outshooting them 45-22, and except for a heroic effort from Robert Esche (Player of the Game for Team USA)it would have been a much different game.

Here's a quick overview of Finland's ice time leaders:

Ville Peltonen - 109:41/5 = 21.94 - 1-3-4 +1
Saku Koivu - 41:13/2 = 20.61* - 0-2-2 +1 played only 2 games
Mikko Koivu - 101:12/5 = 20.24 - 3-3-6 +1
Teemu Selanne - 95:43/5 = 19.14 - 3-2-5 +1

Other notables:
Antti Pihlstrom - 54:09/5= 10.83 - 1-2-3 +5

Ossi Vaananen - 82:39/5 - 0-1-1 +1
Ville Koistinen - 80:41/5 - 1-1-2 +3
Janne Niskala - 75:53/5 -0-2-2 +2
Annsi Salmela - 74:14/5* - 0-0-0 +0 - suspended

In net the Finns have one of the most successful goaltenders in the tournament thus far. Niklas Backstrom is second only to Pascal Leclaire in SV% (.946), has a 1.50 GAA.

Finland has been one of the most consistent teams in this tourny and has followed Canada's footsteps. They beat Germany by 3, Norway by 1, Slovakia by 1, Latvia by 1 and Team USA by 1. Sound familiar?

This is Canada's last game before the elimination round. TSN at 1:20, or at

Additionally, Mirtle has had a couple of interesting thoughts about the tournament and I keep meaning to link them. Read them here, here, here and here.

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