Olympic Hockey Picks: Finland vs. Canada

David Lawrence

Friday, February 14, 2014 8:11 PM GMT

After a day off on Saturday, both Canada and Finland will get back to business on Sunday morning. Canada is the gold medal favorite but Finland is quickly climbing the ranks. They’re supposed to be a defensive-minded team but they’ve scored 14 goals through two games so far.

Canada Can Win Because…

They’ve gotten their feet wet. Canada was very conservative in their opening win against Norway, skating to a very easy 3-1 win (even if the final score didn’t indicate that). They stepped up their efforts in their second out, getting a 6-0 shutout win over the hapless Austrians.

Canada is definitely the more talented team here but the one realm where Finland may hold a slight edge is in net. Canada is probably hoping that a fatigued Tuukka Rask is in net on Sunday as he was the one that gave up four goals to Austria. If he is, this should be much easier.

Finland has looked good through two games but they haven’t been tested. This will be the first time that they don’t have a huge edge in talent and it will show.

Finland Can Win Because….

They have the better goaltending. With Rask, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen, the Fins have what arguably might be the best trio in the tournament. Rask didn’t look good in the opener, so there’s a good chance the Fins continue to roll with Lehtonen or switch to Niemi for Sunday.

The Fins normally play airtight defensive hockey, so it’s been surprising to see them light the lamp so many times in the early going. They’ve proven they have great team chemistry at the offensive end and they should be able to put some pressure on the Canadian defense. If Canada thinks that this is a walkover because they have the better talent, they better think again.

Outlook & Pick

Looking at some comparative analysis, Canada beat Austria 6-0 while Finland stomped them 8-4. Meanwhile, Canada beat Norway just 3-1 while Finland rocked them 6-1.

This is definitely Canada’s game to lose but I think it’s worth a shot to bet against them. Finland has looked great and as long as Rask isn’t in net, they’re worth a play at +1.5

Pick: Finland +1.5 -101 at Pinnacle

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