The Matchup: Team USA (4-0-0-0) faces off against Team Finland (3-0-0-1). This is the first meeting of the two teams in the Olympics.
The Last Team USA Game: On Wednesday, Team USA faced off against Switzerland in the quarterfinal round. The teams were scoreless in the third period until Zach Parise (New Jersey Devils) broke the tie with a powerplay goal at 2:08 of the period. He added an empty-net goal at 19:49 to ice the victory.
The Last Team Finland Game: On Wednesday night, Team Finland faced off against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinal round. The teams were scoreless in the third period until Niklas Hagman (Calgary Flames) broke the tie with a powerplay goal at 6:26 of the period. Valtteri Filppula (Detroit Red Wings) iced the victory with an empty net goal at 18:25 of the period. Finnish goalie Mikka Kiprusoff (Calgary Flames) finished with 31 saves.
The Last Team USA – Team Finland Game: The last time the two teams played, in the 2006 Torino Olympics, Finland defeated the US, 4-3. Team USA leads the all-time series, 6-3-2.
This Afternoon’s Game: Many of the previews I’ve read for the game think this will be a light-hitting affair. But I’m going to go with the opposite. In order to establish themselves, I believe the US needs to dominate the physical game early. If they can set the tone there, then they can have some momentum. However, physical play won’t be the only factor for the US. The Finnish team will pressure the Americans on the forecheck, and they will attempt to capitalize on the mistakes. The US doesn’t have to play a perfect game, but they need to execute. Bad turnovers will lead to quality scoring chances, and Finland is a team that can bury those chances.
The game will be on NBC at 3 p.m. Canada and Slovakia will face off at 9:30 tonight.