Olympic Hockey 2014: Breaking Down the All-Tournament Team

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Olympic Hockey 2014: Breaking Down the All-Tournament Team
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

So far, we've had a wildly entertaining Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi, and despite the absence of the Russians, the four remaining teams aren't all that unexpected.

Sweden, the United States and Canada boast arguably the three deepest rosters in the field, and though Finland may not have the talent of the other three, the Finns have come away with medals in three of the last four Olympics.

In the past, we've seen future Hall of Fame talents such as Joe Sakic, Dominik Hasek, Ryan Miller and Peter Forsberg become legends based on their performances at the Olympics, and that trend should continue in Sochi.

Heading into the final four games of the men's bracket, here's an early look at which players will earn spots on the prestigious All-Tournament Team.

 

Goaltender: Tuukka Rask, Finland

In all honesty, this could have gone to Jonathan Quick, but given that Rask has been forced to be Finland's best player on a consistent basis throughout the games, Boston's No. 1 gets the nod.

Yeah, Finland plays a disciplined style of hockey that generally limits quality scoring chances, but especially against Russia, the Finns needed Rask to come up big on a number of occasions.

Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

In all, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Russians' top-heavy offense threw 38 shots Rask's way, and only Ilya Kovalchuk's early point-blank rocket made it past the 26-year-old netminder.

Furthermore, against Canada, Rask was arguably the only reason Finland even made it to overtime, as his teammates mustered a paltry 15 shots on Carey Price during a 2-1 overtime loss.

Finland will be very fortunate to skate away with a medal given how much more talent is on the other three rosters remaining, and if they do so, Rask will be the primary reason behind it.

 

Defense: Drew Doughty, Canada

Without much in the way of offensive production from Canada's star-studded group of forwards, Drew Doughty has had to be his country's top scoring threat, and he's done so while playing responsible hockey in his own end.

At the 2010 Olympics, Doughty announced his arrival as an elite rearguard by playing a critical role in Canada's gold medal effort, and he was just 20 at the time.

No longer a kid among NHL superstars, Doughty's taken on a big role on this year's Canadian entry, and in the process, he's demonstrated an ability to come up big in clutch situations.

Sure, his four goals and six points thus far are tops among all Canadian players, but the timing of his contributions has been equally important.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Against Finland, Doughty not only notched Canada's only goal in regulation on a snipe from the left circle, but he also found the back of the net in overtime, giving the defending champs the top spot in the group.

He's got the speed and mobility to make up for virtually any miscue, and his puck-moving abilities are one of the keys to Canada's transition game, which is why Doughty's the leading candidate to win Best Defenseman honors at this stage.

Shea Weber's certainly still in the running, as he played the hero in Canada's late win over Latvia, but for now, this is Doughty's spot to lose.

 

Defense: Erik Karlsson, Sweden

Without Henrik Zetterberg and Henrik Sedin, arguably two of Sweden's five best players, former Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson has needed to play a big role offensively for the Tre Kronor.

Heading into the semifinal round, Karlsson's put up an extremely impressive three goals and seven points, and has consistently been the Swedes' best weapon on the power play.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As the leading man on arguably the tournament's deepest collection of defensemen, Karlsson's regularly matched against the opposition's top forwards, yet he's still managed to rack up a sparkling plus-five rating.

Like Doughty, Karlsson leads his team in scoring heading into the medal round, and though not physically intimidating, his skating and on-ice intelligence makes him very difficult to beat one-on-one.

If Sweden's going to get by Finland and take down a North American foe for the gold, Karlsson's going to have to be the best player on the ice, except for Henrik Lundqvist.

 

Forward: Phil Kessel, United States

The U.S. has been undoubtedly the most high-powered offensive outfit thus far, and Toronto's Phil Kessel has been the biggest reason behind that.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

His five goals and eight points are unthinkable for having only played four games, especially given that he's the United States' only pure sniper in Sochi.

Kessel's explosive speed, hands and quick release have served him well, as they do in the NHL, but it'll be interesting to see how productive he is against decidedly stingier defenses from here on out.

But at least up to this point, Kessel's been so dominant that he earned some very high praise from one of his superstar teammates.

His sister Amanda came agonizingly close to claiming the gold on Thursday, so the older brother will attempt to exact revenge on Canada in the semifinals.

 

Forward: Mikael Granlund, Finland

After the Finns lost Mikko Koivu, Saku Koivu and Valtteri Filppula due to injury, one had to wonder how this team would produce enough offense to advance past the quarterfinals.

Enter Mikael Granlund. In his first Olympic Games, the 21-year-old has emerged as Finland's most dangerous offensive weapon, and is certainly one of the keys to his country's medal hopes.

The win over Russia was something of a coming-out party for the former No. 9 overall pick, as Granlund notched a goal and an assist to lead the underdog Finns to a 3-1 triumph over the heavily favored hosts.

Martin Rose/Getty Images

One could make an argument for running mate Teemu Selanne making this list instead, but in reality, that would be a sentimental selection.

Selanne's been far better than one would normally expect from a 43-year-old sniper, but Granlund is clearly the engine that drives both the Finnish offense and the team's power play.

Overall, Granlund's three goals and five points in four games have him among the tournament's scoring leaders, and on an offensively challenged team like the Finns, that's enough to earn him a spot on this list.

 

Forward: T.J. Oshie, United States

No, this isn't all because of T.J. Oshie's stunning shootout display against the Russians, but that clutch performance definitely didn't hurt either.

Aside from his four shootout tallies, Oshie's managed a very respectable four points in as many games, while playing the ferocious two-way game that earned a berth on the American team in the first place.

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

In the medal round, Oshie likely won't play a leading role in the U.S. offense, but it's worth keeping in mind that heading into the Olympics, the former University of North Dakota standout was well on his way to obliterate his former career-high of 54 points.

Ultimately, one of the defining moments of this Olympics will likely be Oshie's heroics against the Russians, because as was the case after Jonathan Toews' three-for-three shootout outing against the U.S. at the 2007 World Juniors, those are the type of situations in which legends are born.

Joe Pavelski, Jeff Carter and David Backes each could snatch this spot away from Oshie with big performances in the semifinals and medal tilts, but for now, it's the 27-year-old Warroad, Minnesota native's to lose.

 


 

 

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