Finland has been among the world’s most consistent hockey nations at the Olympic level, medaling at four of the last five games and five of the last seven. The Finns have never claimed gold, however — something the 2014 squad, backstopped by Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and featuring a deep core of NHL veterans, will be looking to change next month in Sochi.
Though he has struggled some since Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was lost for the season, Rask has been among the league’s top goaltenders. He ranks sixth in the NHL in goals against average, fourth in save percentage and tied for fourth in games played. It says something that even with fellow standouts Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi on Finland’s Olympic roster, Rask is the team’s unquestioned starter.
While Rask will be making his first Olympic appearance, Finland is stocked with veteran talent in front of him. Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, the face of Finnish hockey, is playing in his fourth Olympics, as is Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen.
It isn’t only old men who will be making an impact for the Finns, though. Valtteri Filppula, who has 18 goals and 18 assists for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season, will be returning from the 2010 squad that won bronze in Vancouver, and 21-year-old Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund will be a player to watch as he makes his Olympic debut.
For a full preview of Team Finland, be sure to tune in to WB Mason Presents Bruins Face-Off LIVE on Thursday night at 8 p.m., immediately preceding the Bruins’ matchup with the Dallas Stars at 8:30 p.m.