Olympic Hockey Bronze Medal Game Prediction

Anjul VirkContributor IFebruary 27, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Goalkeeper Miikka Kiprusoff #34 of Finland reacts after the ice hockey men's semifinal game between the United States and Finland on day 15 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

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Well, the two teams that I thought would make the Gold Medal game have made it, but not the way that I thought that they would.

The Americans absolutely crushed Finland yesterday, and might have ruined the psyche of both Miikka Kiprusoff and Niklas Backstrom in the process. However, that will be determined after the battle for third place is resolved.

In the other semifinal, the Canadians were cruising to a victory with a 3-0 lead early in the third, but then things began to change quickly. The Slovaks scored a pair of goals in the last half of the final period, and then put on unbelievable pressure in the final minutes, and got saved by the glove of Roberto Luongo.

All that means is that Team Finland will now battle with Team Slovakia later today to determine who should reach the podium at these Olympics.

Finland finished with the silver back in 2006, and now will try to at least get the bronze and forget about the disaster that unfolded before their eyes yesterday afternoon. On the other hand, the Slovaks have already done what no other team has done in their short history, as the previous best finish for the country happened in Turin, when they placed 5th in the tournament.

Either way, both countries still have a game to play, and that will take place at Canada Hockey Place later tonight. Marian Gaborik had left the game yesterday with what appeared to be a groin injury, but it seems like he might be okay and should be good to go. Don't expect any other lineup changes for the Slovaks, as Jaroslav Halak should again be the starter between the pipes.

For the Finns, it is still up in the air as to who will start the game in net. Kiprusoff had the best save percentage of all goaltenders that were in the tournament heading into yesterday's game, and he was also solid in shutting out the Czechs in the quarterfinals. At the same time, Kipper has not seen eye-to-eye with the Finnish program, and since he couldn't lead the team to the gold, it's quite possible that we might see Backstrom get the start.

Either way, the Finns must be still reeling from what happened yesterday, and it's hard to say if all of the players, especially the goalies, have recovered.

Meanwhile, Slovakia will most likely be quite loose for this contest, as really, the attitude should be one of feeling like there's nothing to lose.

Prediction: Slovakia defeats Finland 4-2