The road to the Gold medal game became much more difficult for Russia when they failed to be one of the top four teams through preliminary play. While Canada, Sweden and the United States will get decidedly more cushy quarterfinal matchups against lesser opponents, the Russians will square off with a Finnish team that could very well beat them.
The Finns are a stingy defensive team that could drive Russia up a wall with their structure in their own zone. Finland has no problem playing a patient and cautious game. They can wait it out, and pounce at the first sign of a defensive breakdown for Russia.
That could cause issues for players like Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, who thrive in wide open games. They haven’t seen a lot of space in this tournament so far though, and they won’t be given any quarter by a chippy Finnish team that is looking to advance despite missing several key players.
If Finland can get a strong performance from their netminder and frustrate the Russians, they could shock the host nation by eliminating them in the quarterfinal. Will the Finns have the weapons to hang with Russia? Will get the Russians trick them into a track meet?
Tune in to find out. Here’s how.
Date: February 19
Start Time: 7:30 A.M. ET
Location: Sochi, Russia
TV Info: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Live Extra