Both the United States and Finland men's hockey teams are not where they wanted to be right now—in a battle for the bronze medal. Both teams were legitimate contenders for the gold medal, however, after two defensive battles on Friday, both teams came out on the losing end.
The Finns were up against a very dynamic Swedish team. They did manage to contain the Swedes' explosive offense to just 25 shots on goal. Unfortunately, two of those shots found the back of the net which was good enough for the win.
Team USA faced off against an equally tough Canadian team. Once again, goaltending was spectacular, as Jonathan Quick stopped 36 of Canada's 37 shots. However, the United States could not find its offense. Despite firing 31 shots on goal, the team was held scoreless.
The impending bronze-medal matchup should be a thrilling one as both of these teams are very deep across the board. This is one contest that should not be missed, so let's take a look at its viewing information along with a final prediction for the game's outcome.
What: USA vs. Finland (bronze-medal game)
When: Saturday, Feb. 22
Where: Bolshoy Ice Dome
TV Time: 10 a.m. ET
Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com
Looking at both of these teams' performances during the semifinal round of the men's ice hockey playoffs, plenty of similarities are very apparent:
|USA vs. Finland: Semifinal Stat Comparison|
|Team||Shots||Goals||Saves||Goals Allowed||Save %|
Despite these similarities during these defensive struggles, each team lost in a different way.
Finland generated a goal even though it took five fewer shots than the United States. Team USA found themselves around their opponent's net quite frequently, however, they were not able to capitalize.
On the other hand, the United States gave up one goal on 37 shots. Finland lost its matchup by allowing two goals on just 25 shots. The goaltending for the United States has been fantastic throughout the entire tournament.
This brings us to the bronze-medal game where it will be a battle of strengths. The Finns have not had any trouble finding the back of the net throughout the tournament. Finland scored 15 goals during the preliminary rounds and another four in the playoffs.
The United States allowed just four goals during the preliminary rounds and and three more during the playoffs. If Team USA can get it going on the offensive side, they are incredibly difficult to beat due to solid goaltending.
Getting the offense going is key for the United States, after all. Once its loss to Canada went final, defenseman Ryan Suter explained his disappointment during an interview with ESPN.com, "We didn't show up to play. It's too bad. We sat back. We were passive. You can't play scared. I thought we sat on our heels and just didn't take it to them at all."
Forward Patrick Kane added, "We didn't really create much offense. It's a little disappointing. I think everyone expected a tight-checking game, but to say we would have gotten shut out, I don't think anyone would have thought that."
This was the problem for the United States on Friday. Even though Quick was fantastic in goal, the team could not muster enough offensive firepower to help him out.
With the high-octane offense that Finland is capable of producing, the United States must take the appropriate measures to combat that by generating offense of its own. Keeping the puck on the opponents' side of the ice will be crucial for both teams in this contest.
Finland will continue to fire away on offense. Expect the United States to do the same after watching film from its loss on Friday and making appropriate adjustments.
That being said, this contest will come down to which team can flourish on the defensive side of the ice. Due to current trends, that team is the United States. Stout goaltending from Team USA along with a revamped offense will carry them to victory against a very good Finland team.
United States 3, Finland 2