Anna Sergeeva/Getty Images
Over the past few days, the NoVA Caps team has been taking a close look at the World Cup of Hockey. The two-week tournament will provide lots of excitement to hockey fans, as the best players in the world will congregate in Toronto.
Now, NoVA Caps will take a look at Group B. This preview will be dedicated to Team Finland. How will Team Finland stack up against the rest of the field in the tournament? Let’s take a closer look at their roster.
There is a good mix of young players and veterans in this group. The headline name for the Finns is the #2 overall pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, Patrik Laine. Laine was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets and has the potential to be a big star in the NHL next season.
The Finns also have another 2nd overall pick on their team as Aleksander Barkov will lace the skates up for them. Barkov, 20, was taken in the 2013 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers, and has become a cornerstone for the Panthers long-term future. Barkov tallied 28 goals and 59 points for the Panthers in 2015-16.
Florida’s Jussi Jokinen, Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu, and Tampa Bay’s Valtteri Filppula round out the veteran group of Team Finland. These players have all been in the NHL for many years, and all have provided quality leadership to the young NHL clubs that they all play for.
This group is young and very inexperienced at the NHL level. Out of the 7 young Finnish defensemen, none of them have over 200 games of NHL experience. 6 out of the 7 Finnish defensemen are 25 years of age or younger.
While the Finns have a young defense core, this group has some players who are rising stars at the NHL level. Pittsburgh Penguins Olli Maatta is a familiar name around the hockey world, as the former 1st round pick is going to be a steady smooth skating NHL defenseman for years to come. Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks also has a bright NHL future, as he has recorded back-to-back 35+ point seasons. The Buffalo Sabres should be excited about their future, as 21-year old Rasmus Ristolainen represents Team Finland well. The young Sabres defenseman will probably bring the most physicality to the group of Finnish defensemen.
There are two goaltenders that hockey fans may be familiar with on Team Finland. The Finns are proud to have Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne in their goaltending rotation. Team Finland’s third goaltender is Mikko Koskinen, who plays for SKA St. Petersburg (KHL). Koskinen, 28, was taken 31st overall by the New York Islanders at the 2009 NHL Draft.
Tuukka Rask is a former Vezina Trophy winner and Stanley Cup Champion. He has played 330 games in his NHL career, and has recorded 167 wins, and has 2.24 goals against average and .924 save percentage. He had 31 wins for the Bruins in 2015-16.
Pekka Rinne is a 2-time Vezina Trophy finalist. The 33-year old is a tall goaltender, as he towers at 6’5” tall. He has played in 447 regular season NHL games in his career, and has notched 238 wins, as well as a 2.37 goals against average and .917 save percentage.
Mikko Koskinen had a pretty good season in the KHL in 2015-16. He recorded 20 wins in 41 games for SKA Saint Petersburg, and had a 2.42 goals against average and .915 save percentage.
GM: Jere Lehtinen
Head Coach: Lauri Marjamaki
Assistant Coaches: Teppo Numminen, Waltteri Immonen, Kalle Kaskinen, Ari Hilli
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Team Finland will have to find some offense from somewhere. There are several guys on this team who have not eclipsed the 20+ goal plateau at the NHL level. There is not much star power with this team, so they will have to protect the puck well and make the game a “skating” game against their opponent.
Team Finland might be one of the quicker and smarter teams in the tournament. Team Finland has players like Jussi Jokinen and Mikko Koivu who can think the game really well. They are smart on the ice and very responsible with the puck.
The strength of Team Finland is their goaltending. Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne can both be game-changers if they are both playing at the top of their games.
The Finns will have to play a consistent game and they will have to generate some offense if they want to go a long way in the tournament. They could be a dark horse team in this tournament if they play a smart, fast game.
By: George Foussekis