Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Updates – Gold and Bronze Medal Game Preview

Semifinals:

Finland 2 Slovakia 0

Russian Olympic Committee 2 (GWS 3-2) Sweden 1

Analysis:

Finland was the superior team to Slovakia going into the game and coming out of the game. Finland scored late in the 1st period and then would not score again until the last minute on an empty net goal. Finland gave up no goals which is commendable, as well as giving up no power plays, but Finland had 3 power plays and did not score on any of them! This could be a major factor in the Gold Medal Game against the Russian Olympic Committee, but luckily for Finland, the Russian Olympic Committee also squandered their power play opportunities in their semifinal. Slovakia did well to stay in the game, but their 3 power plays they gave up should have led to more goals. However, believe it or not, Slovakia outshot Finland. So, Slovakia did more than just stay in the game, Slovakia actually played well enough to win the game. Finland has been playing the best out of any nation thus far at the tournament and are well-deserved to have won and advanced to the Gold Medal Game.

The Russian Olympic Committee won their shootout with Sweden in dramatic fashion being down 0-1 after 2 shots each, coming back and scoring on the 3rd shot to make it 1-1, only for Sweden to then make their 3rd shot, which made it 1-2 in favor of the Swedes. The Russian Olympic Committee would then score on the last opportunity, the 5th shot, to make it 2-2, and a Russian save on the next Swedish shootout shot ensured the game went on. By the 8th shot, the Russian Olympic Committee scored their 3rd shootout goal to go up 3-2, and saved Sweden’s 8th and final attempt to win the shootout and game and advance to the Gold Medal Game. The Russian Olympic Committee did well to go up 1-0 in the 2nd Period and even though they gave up the lead in the 3rd Period, their power play defense looked good as they had given up 0 power play goals as both them and Sweden successfully defended 2 power plays to 0 goals. Sweden was the better team going in, but they were never as skilled and had the potential of the Russian Olympic Committee. The Russian Olympic Committee’s team as it is would be a favorite at these Winter Olympic Games, even with NHL players present. Sweden will be disappointed to have missed out on an opportunity for another Gold Medal. Sweden has lost 2 games this tournament, once in overtime and the other in a shootout. The Russian Olympic Committee did well to win the shot count and control and win the game.

Bronze Medal Game:

19 February; 21:10 (Beijing); 14:10 (Stockholm and Bratislava):

Sweden verse Slovakia

Analysis:

Sweden has won 2 Golds, 3 Silvers, and 4 Bronze Medals at the Winter Olympics for Men’s Ice Hockey! And, Sweden has done very well in the World Championship as well, winning 11 World Championships, finishing runners-up 17 times, and finishing 3rd Place 16 times! But, in 2018, at the Winter Olympics, Sweden lost to Germany in the Quarterfinals after being the top seed at the end of Group play, and then in the 2018 World Championship, Sweden came back with vengeance to win their 11th World Championship and 2nd World Championship in a row. So, 2018 was actually still a success for Sweden, even if the Winter Olympics were not. However, in 2019, the Swedes finished 5th and in 2021, the Swedes finished 9th, contributing to why Sweden is ranked 7th in the IIHF World Rankings. Sweden would very much like to get their 1st medal at the Winter Olympics since 2014 when they lost in the Gold Medal Game. Sweden is one of the best national ice hockey teams and will feel this Bronze consolation prize, while not what they wanted, will suffice for their hard work in Beijing. Meanwhile, Slovakia was part of the 3rd best ice hockey national team, Czechoslovakia, but since then, has not had as much success as their former other half. However, even with this less of successful period since the Velvet Revolution, the Slovakians have actually done quite well. Slovakia has won 1 World Championship, finished 2nd twice at the World Championship, and finished 3rd place once at the World Championship. In the Winter Olympics, Slovakia has made every edition finishing in the top 10 4 of the 7 previous occasions, but their last 2 occasions, Slovakia finished an abysmal 11th! Slovakia best ever finish was in 2010 when they finished 4th Place. Slovakia will be looking for their first Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey medal as an independent nation against Sweden, and Sweden is actually a country they like for ice hockey as that is where the Slovakians won their only World Championship, back in 2002. Slovakia will probably be playing harder and tougher to win, while Sweden will have more of the talent. Sweden will have to make sure to know that Slovakia has greatly improved since they last played each other, but that Finland and the USA also did not play very well against Slovakia so the improvement may be less than what it appears to be. Sweden needs to improve their power play attacking as Slovakia appears to be playing physical to the point that given up power plays is actually part of their strategy, and they have been defending these well/the teams they have been playing have been bad at scoring on these. Both nations will have a difficult game. But, if Sweden can improve their power plays, even just slightly, Sweden may have the ability to put this game away early in 3rd Period, or maybe even in the 2nd Period. While Sweden should win by 1+ goals, Slovakia is very likely to pull off the upset.

Gold Medal Game:

20 February; 12:10 (Beijing); 06:10 (Helsinki); 07:10 (Moscow):

Finland verse Russian Olympic Committee

Analysis:

Finland was the 2nd favorite going into the Winter Olympics while the Russian Olympic Committee was the 1st favorite. However, after Group play, Finland stayed the 2nd favorite while the Russian Olympic Committee became the 4th favorite. And, after the Quarterfinals, Finland was now the 1st favorite and has been since, while the Russian Olympic Committee went from the 3rd favorite in the semifinals to the 2nd favorite now. Yet, favorites do not mean much as the Americans can tell you after their Quarterfinal shootout loss. Finland has been playing the best out of these 2 nations and has the 2nd best team at the Winter Olympics, while the Russian Olympic Committee has been playing worse but has the best team at the Winter Olympics. While the Finnish took a step backwards from their previous dominance against Slovakia, the Russian Olympic Committee got better against Sweden to win. Still, Finland played better to win in regulation, while the Russian Olympic Committee had to rely on shootouts to win and advance to the Gold Medal Game. However, the Finnish were not playing as good of a team and got outshot, while the Russian Olympic Committee were playing the better team and outshot their opponent, Sweden. As you can tell, there are reasons to pick both nations. That is why both are in the Gold Medal Final! The Russian Olympic Committee are the defending Gold Medalists from 2018. Russia was formerly apart of the Soviet Union which was the best or 2nd best national ice hockey team depending on how you measure it, but since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia has not been as successful, but still successful compared to most. Russia has won 5 World Championships, finished 2nd 3 times, and finished 3rd 5 times at the World Championship. Russia has won 1 Olympic Gold Medal, 1 Olympic Silver Medal, and 1 Olympic Bronze Medal at the Olympics. While Russia has never finished outside the top 6 at the Winter Olympics, their lack of medals, especially in 2014 when they hosted the Winter Olympics, has made Russians very upset. That is why their 2018 Gold Medal win was important for so many reasons! It was their 1st Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Gold Medal as an independent Russia, and it was their 1st Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Medal since 2002 in Salt Lake City, USA. Finland, on the other hand, luckily, was never part of the Soviet Union and thus was able to keep all of their records without controversy. However, this has meant a less illustrious history for Finland. Finland is a strange ice hockey nation, as the Finns are very good at ice hockey and ice hockey is very popular there, and Finland is part of the “Big Six” of ice hockey, even though their first top 3 finish in the World Championship or Olympics came in 1988, a Silver Medal at the Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Before that, Finland finished 4th place 9 times in the World Championship and 2 times in the Winter Olympics. In Finland’s defense, they did finish top 6 a lot in these tournaments prior to 1988. Since 1988, Finland has been really good though at medal finishes. In the Winter Olympics, Finland has achieved 1 more Silver Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey in 2006 in Turin, Italy, while also achieving 4 Bronze Medals, most recently in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. In the World Championship, Finland has earned 3 3rd Place finishes, 9 2nd Place finishes, and have won the World Championship 3 times! Finland is now a perennial World Championship and Olympic Favorite for Medals, and World Championship Favorite for winning the World Championship. But, for the Olympics, Finland is still without a Gold Medal in Men’s Ice Hockey! This is something that Finland will hope to change in their Gold Medal Game with their Gulf of Finland neighbors, Russia, or rather, the Russian Olympic Committee for this tournament. The political, cultural, and military history of these 2 nations goes way back to the point that parts of Russia still consists of people who speak the same language family as Finland does, the Uralic Language Family. And in ice hockey, these 2 nations also trace back their histories together quite a ways. These 2 nations are not only ice hockey rivals, but also bandy rivals, a sport similar to ice hockey played on an ice oval the size of a football field. And, Russia/the Soviet Union often gets the better of Finland in both sports. Finland has been the better nation lately though in ice hockey, winning the 2019 World Championship in Slovakia and finishing 2nd Place at the 2021 World Championship in Latvia. In bandy, okay, maybe Russia still has got the better of Finland, but nonetheless, Finland is playing well in ice hockey. Finland will hope to win to also gain momentum heading into the 2022 World Championship being held in Finland in May. Finland is the better team playing going into the game, while the Russian Olympic Committee is the better team player for player going into the game. The game is a toss up either way, but Finland should win by 1 goal. Finland will need to try to outscore the Russian Olympic Committee, while the Russian Olympic Committee will need to try to make the game low scoring. Both can play the other way, but a low scoring game and a shootout favors the Russians while a high scoring game and overtime favors the Finnish.

Favorites:

  1. Finland
  2. Russian Olympic Committee

Eliminated:

  • Sweden
  • Slovakia
  • USA
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Switzerland
  • Czech Republic
  • Germany
  • Latvia
  • PR China

Published by CK 22

I like history, politics, foreign diplomacy, sports, and more. Basically, the most popular things, plus also geography.

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