Olympic Hockey Picks: Norway vs. Finland

Ross Benjamin

Thursday, February 13, 2014 8:34 PM GMT

The Olympic men’s hockey tournament resumes on Friday with each of the 12 teams having 1-game under their belt. One of the games on the schedule is between Finland and Sweden that’s slated to begin at 12:00 PM ET.

Norway vs. Finland 12:00 PM ET

According to hockey betting odds Finland is a monster -635 money line favorite The puck-line shows Finland -2.5 (-125). The early posted total is 5.5.

Both Teams Openers

Finland opened the tournament on Thursday with a convincing 8-4 win over Austria. Finland fell behind 2-1 in the 1st period before responding with 5 unanswered goals to take a commanding 6-2 lead. They outshot Austria in the game by a decisive 52-20 margin. Finland had 14 different players record at least 1-point in the game. On a negative note goaltender Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins) wasn’t sharp allowing 4-goals on just 20 shots, including a hat trick by Austria’s Micheal Grabner (New York Islanders). The win may have come at a cost as Teemu Selanne left the game in the 1st period with an upper body injury and didn’t return. His status for the game versus Norway on Friday is listed as questionable.

Norway played a very competitive game versus heavily favored Canada before falling 3-1 on Thursday. They trailed 2-0 entering the 3rd period but were quickly able to close the gap to 2-1 on a power play goal by Patrick Thoresen just 0:22 into the final stanza. However, Canada scored just 1:25 later to take a 3-1 lead, and the Canadians maintained control for the duration of the game. Norway was outshot in the game 38-20 but did a very nice job of playing a conservative and defensive style of play to stay in the contest until the final horn. Considering that Norway entered the game 0-7 all time versus Canada in the Olympics, and had been outscored by a cumulative 37-3, there were a lot of positives they could take away from their opening game despite the loss.

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Final Analysis

Don’t be fooled by the large 8-4 score in Finland’s opening game. That was an oddity considering they prefer to play a conservative counter attacking style, which more times than not results in low scoring affairs. In addition, it will be highly unlikely that Finish goaltender Tuuka Rask will have another below average game like he did versus Austria.

Like they exhibited in their opening game of the tournament, Norway is fully aware they can ill afford to get into a wide open type of game versus a much more talented opponent. You can look for Norway to keep things close to the vest, take very few chances, and try to keep the game close heading into the 3rd period.

This one has all the ear marks of a boring low scoring game. I would be very surprised to see more than 5-golas scored in this affair. We'll add the under to our sports picks for this event.

Free Pick: Finland/Norway to go under the total of 5.5