Finland vs Austria - 2/13/14
Finland (0-0-0) vs Austria (0-0-0)
Olympic Hockey: Thursday, February 13, 2014
O/U: 5.5; Finland -3.5 See the Latest Odds
The Finns look to build on their bronze medal from Vancouver in 2010 and they start their tournament off with a date against Austria.
Austria qualified for the Sochi Winter Olympic by knocking off the Germans and now they`ll look to take advantage of their first significant international canvass in quite some time by ruffling some feathers here in Sochi. The Austrians are pretty thin on NHL caliber talent but their two best and most renowned players can certainly do some damage as they have Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek. Vanek has been the poster child for Austrian hockey since he cracked the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and is one of the better pure goal scorers in the league and will certainly be a highly coveted piece come trade deadline time but for this tournament`s sake I think they will struggle. Austria is in a pool with the Finns and Canadians and with the top two teams advancing through to the knock out stage I think this will go down as a learning experience for the Austrians as opposed to a chance at padding their medal count.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor
Finland heads into the tournament looking to change the colour of their medal from Vancouver as the surprise bronze medallists are thinking bigger this year and certainly have a shot at getting there. To me, there is no question the Finns have the biggest depth in goal as all three of their goaltenders could lead the team to a medal as Kari Lehtonen, Tuukka Rask, and Antii Niemi have all had strong seasons in the NHL. On the blue line the Finns are led by some of the usual suspects as Kimmo Timonen and Sami SAlo suit up and youngster Ollia Maata who is playing very well with the Pittsburgh Penguins get his chance to shine on the international stage after missing this year`s World Junior Championship. Teemu Selanne returns to Finland for an unprecedented sixth Winter Games and as the team captain thanks to Miikko Koivu`s absence he will be leaned on to carry the team on and off the ice. I am a little worried for the Finnish attack as Koivu and Valteri Filpulla will both miss the games and while they still have Aleks Barkov, Mikael Granlun and the Jokinen brothers I just don`t see how they will match up against the likes of Canada, Sweden, the United States, and Russia. The Finns are four goal favourites here and while this might not be the most popular pick I think the Austrians can keep things relatively in check. I think the Finnish goaltending will be way too much for Austria to handle but an under is a play I`m willing to make here.