Team Finland isn’t going to answer many burning questions in their opener against the Austrians. A lot of people understand that Finland is capable of winning the gold medal in Sochi but they’re viewed as a step behind the elite teams. Bettors will want to see how they match up with the big boys like Russia and Canada before they make a concrete determination. Pummeling Austria will just emphasize what we know: Finland is a medal contender.
Finland Can Win Because…
They have the best trio of goaltenders in the tournament. Sure, they can’t all play at the same time but the fact of the matter is that the Fins have an embarrassment of riches at the position. They’ll have the option to choose from Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, although the decision is really down to the top two.
The Fins are a suffocating defensive team and a shut out is a realistic possibility here. Austria doesn’t have much pep and Finland is going to play defensively after they get their lead. This is just a clear hockey betting mismatch in every facet of the game.
Austria Can Win Because….
They have Thomas Vanek. Although it’s not much, it’s more than what some of the other bottom feeders like Norway and Latvia have. Vanek is a former 40-goal scorer in the NHL and he’ll at least post a threat to the Fins while he’s on the ice.
Finland isn’t a very potent, offensive team so if the Austrians can clamp down, play conservatively and keep this tight going into the third period, who knows what might happen.
Outlook & Pick
For Finland, this should be like taking candy from a baby. They won’t win by five or six goals, but they’ll bring their smothering defense to the table and make sure that Austria finishes the day scoreless. While I’m not interested in laying 3.5 pucks with the Fins, I’ll take the under as I don’t expect many goals here.
Free Pick: Under 5.5 at Pinnacle