Sweden is this year’s top seed and is facing off against their neighboring rivals, the fourth seeded Finland, in the semi-finals of the 2014 Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey tournament. We are down to the final four teams of what has been a splendid tournament; and a lot of people are surprised that Finland has made it this far instead of the favored Russian team. Finland is coming off of a solid 3-1 victory to eliminate Russia, and the Finnish players and fans have their eyes set on gold. Sweden, however, defeated the surprise Slovenia team 5-0 and remain perfect through the entire tournament. This semi-finals game will take place 21 February with a start time of 7 AM EST.
The Canada – USA rivalry is an immense deal here in North America, but the Sweden – Finland rivalry is equally cherished by people living in said countries. In case you have forgotten, Sweden defeated Finland for the gold medal back in the 2006 Winter Olympics. Sweden was an early favorite in this tournament, with a legion of NHL stars, and so far they have not missed a beat. Finland was more of a dark horse team in Sochi, but they have represented themselves well with their overtime loss to Canada being their only blemish.
When it comes down to the final four teams, any thing can happen with the gold medal in reach. Sweden is favored in this game with Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson both having commendable tournaments so far, but don’t overlook Finland’s well balanced roster led by the Boston Bruins’ goal tender, Tuukka Rask. I would expect nothing less than a low scoring game with tremendous goaltending on both ends. For Finland, my player to watch is none other than the timeless Teemu Selänne. This could potentially be Selänne’s final Olympic tournament, and I am sure he wants to end it with a bang. For Sweden, I’m looking to see what Carl Hagelin can do after scoring two goals in Sweden’s last game against Slovenia. It should be a fantastic game to see which team moves on to compete for gold and I’m looking forward to seeing how this tournament finishes up!