In the most intriguing of the quarterfinal matchup the host Russians take on Finland in what should be a very exciting contest.
Finland heads into today’s contest with Russia as the fourth seed coming out of the preliminary round as they defeated Austria and Norway and dropped a heartbreaker in overtime to the Canadians in what was one of the better games of the tournament. Finland has suffered as many hardships as other countries in the tournament perhaps even more as they have lost three of their top forwards before or during these Games and as such head into this game as an underdog against Russia. Finland has played a very sound defensive game thus far and as such they were rewarded with a bye after the quarters as the best second place team in the three pools but unfortunately for them their reward is a date with Russia in the quarterfinals. Tuukka Rask has been brilliant in the Finland crease and will be one of the better goaltenders the Russians have faced next to Jonathan Quick but you can never underestimate the Finns as they have a strong core of players and can match up against anyone in the world.
Russia undoubtedly has the weight of a nation resting on their shoulders and if they fail to claim gold in Men’s hockey it’ll be considered a massive disappointment but with the way they’re playing they’ll be lucky to have a chance to play for a medal. Russia thought they were going to coast through the round robin but were given a very tough game from Slovenia in their tournament opener, lost to the Americans in a shootout, and had to use extra time to beat Slovakia in what has been a very surprising effort thus far from the hosts. There is no question they have a strong group of forwards but their depth is an issue and their top guys have been quiet as former Predators forward ad current KHL’er Alex Radulov has been the team’s best player that includes Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, and Ilya Kovalchuk. I am not sold on this Russian team as there doesn’t seem to be any sense of urgency and while Finland may be undermanned in terms of star power I think they have the biggest advantage of all with a solid goaltender. I can very well see Finland winning this game and there is no way they should be underdogs here. Take the Finns to keep it close at worst.