Team Sweden is set to take on Team Finland, with the winner claiming the top spot in Group C. Both these Nordic rivals have had strong tournaments up to this point, so expect an exciting back-and-forth game when they hit the ice. Here is what to expect as another chapter in this historic rivalry gets set for puck drop.
Game Time: February 13th, 2022 @ 12:40 am PST/ 3:40 am EST
3 Keys to Victory for Sweden
Stay Out of the Box
Through two games, Sweden has racked up 10 minor penalties and leads the tournament with 20 penalty minutes. The Swede’s need to stay out of the box as Finland will most likely be able to take advantage if sent to the power play. Finland is currently operating at a 33.33 percent efficiency, while Sweden has allowed two goals on seven penalty kills so far. Discipline will be key and will have a major effect on the outcome of this game.
If Sweden is going to pull off the upset, they need more depth scoring. So far this tournament, only five players have goals, with zero coming from the blue line. Forwards Marcus Krüger and Jacob de la Rose, who were expected to have big tournaments are stuck at zero points for the tournament and will need to find the back of the net vs. Finland if Sweden is to have success.
This game is expected to be a defensive chess match, and the bottom six are going to be expected to play a pivotal role. Both teams have only allowed three goals through the two games and have done a great job so far of eliminating the opposition’s top six from the scoreboard. Whether it is Pontus Holmberg, Gustav Rydahl or a defenceman like Christian Folin, depth players need to find a way to score if Sweden wants to claim the top spot in Group C.
Generate More Shots on Net
Through the first two games, Sweden has 48 shots on goal, which ranks them ninth out of 12 in the tournament. In short, they need to generate more than 24 shots a game to be successful, especially against Finland. Sweden seems hesitant to just get pucks on net, especially on the power play. If Sweden can generate 30 or more shots on goal, they have a good chance at beating Finland. If they once again generate fewer than 25 shots, they better hope luck is on their side as Harri Säteri has been excellent for Finland so far.
Three Finns to Watch
Although he has yet to score for Finland, Valtteri Filppula has been arguably their most important forward so far this tournament. The former Detroit Red Wing has been dominant in the faceoff circle, winning 17 of 24 faceoffs so far. He has also been a crucial part of Finland’s defensive game, having yet to be on the ice for a goal against.
It is only a matter of time before Filppula finds the back of the net, and Sweden wants to ensure it is not against them. The last time the Finnish captain played Sweden at the Olympics, his team was shutout 3-0, which cost them the top spot in Group C. Now, 12 years later, he will try and ensure history does not repeat itself.
So far this tournament, Mikko Lehtonen has been Finland’s top defender. The former Toronto Maple Leaf is the team leader in ice time and recorded five shots on goal in Finland’s first game against Latvia. He will be a handful and a player Sweden must pay attention to when he has the puck in the offensive end.
Säteri continues to shine for Finland as the former Florida Panther has a .958 percent save percentage through his first two games. Throughout his international career, he has been dominant and is continuing his strong form at the 2022 Olympics. If Sweden is going to beat him, they need to get pucks on the net and make life difficult for him, otherwise, he will improve to 3-0 in his Olympic career.
Recent Olympic History
- 1992: Finland 2 Sweden 2
- 1998: Finland 2 Sweden 1
- 2006: Sweden 3 Finland 2 (Gold Medal Game)
- 2010: Sweden 3 Finland 0
- 2014: Sweden 2 Finland 1
- 2018: Sweden 3 Finland 1
Throughout this tournament, Finland has looked like a more complete team than Sweden. They don’t sit back on leads and are able to stay out of the box and not give the opposition too many power plays. This will be a tight game, but unless Sweden can generate more offence, look for Finland to take top spot in Group C.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at https://www.area51sportsnetwork.com/ where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.