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February 27, 2010

Bronze Medal Hockey Game- Finland v. Slovakia

Right now on MSNBC. Consider it an appetizer for tomorrow's Gold Medal show down (3:15 eastern).

tmi3rd's take...


Before we get to the real brawl for tomorrow, just a quick moment to thank the Morons for reading... it's nice to have an audience for this stuff, and it's been fun chatting with all of you through this run through the hockey landscape.

Tonight's game may be the end of an era in Slovakia. Some of their key players (Zdeno Chara, Pavol Demitra, Zigmund Palffy) have lamented that the organization responsible for developing hockey players in Slovakia is rife with corruption, and that young hockey players are not coming up through the ranks. Guys like Palffy are at the ends of their careers, and if their laments are in fact the case, it will be a damn shame for the nation's hockey to fade into the ranks of also-rans. During the Iron Curtain era, the Czechoslovakians had some truly ferocious teams, and that didn't change when they split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

In Finland, this will be the last Olympics for longtime NHL great Teemu Selanne, who kicked off his career in Winnipeg by scoring 74 goals for the Jets. He waited almost 20 years to finally hoist the Stanley Cup (with Anaheim), and he has acknowledged that this is likely his last year in the NHL.

So what of this game? It depends- as you saw in the semis- on goaltending. Slovakia has plenty of offensive firepower, and against a goaltender who is anything less than stellar, the Slovaks can ring up a lot of goals. They have the defense to shut anyone down- bear in mind that they put the clamps on Canada after their third goal, and Jaroslav Halak is a very capable goaltender. I haven't seen any word on the condition of Marian Gaborik- he'd been nursing a thigh laceration from practice with the Rangers- but he was nowhere to be seen in the last few minutes of the semis.

Conversely, the Finns play a hard-checking, aggressive game as well. They also have a lot of punch in Jarko and Tuomo Ruutu, all-time Olympic scoring king Selanne, the Koivu brothers (Mikko and Saku), and Rangers winger Olli Jokinen. They have strong defensemen in Kimmo Timonen and Sami Salo, and (absent his meltdown against the US) Mikka Kiprusoff is an elite goaltender.

My sense of this is that it will not be a high-scoring affair... I kind of see this playing out like Slovakia-Russia, and being a 2-2 type game headed to overtime.

As for me, so long as Marian Gabarik comes out of it healthy for the Rangers stretch drive, it's all good.

digg this
posted by DrewM. at 10:03 PM

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