A spot in the Olympic men’s hockey semifinals is at stake Wednesday as Canada and Finland face off at Gangneung Hockey Centre.
The Canadians secured an automatic berth among the final eight teams with one-sided wins over Switzerland and South Korea and a shootout loss to the Czech Republic, while the Finns needed a tenser-than-expected 5-2 win over the host team in the qualifying round to earn a date with the favoured Canadians.
Canada vs Finland Olympic Odds and Betting Analysis
Oddsmakers expect this to be Canada’s toughest game to date – and the defending Olympic champions didn’t do themselves any favours in their final Group A game by defeating the South Koreans by just four goals. The Finns are listed at +103 after cutting things a little too close in the qualifying round, allowing the home side to cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 – in front of a delirious Korean crowd – before ultimately pulling away with a pair of third-period goals.
Fans and bettors shouldn’t put too much stock in Canada’s “narrow” victory in the group-stage finale; they rolled all four lines almost evenly for the majority of the game, and it showed in the final box score as four different players scored goals while 10 had at least one point. The 49-19 shot disparity also tells the true story, as South Korean goaltender – and Ontario native – Matt Dalton stood on his head with a 45-save effort to keep the final score respectable.
The key to Wednesday’s quarterfinal will be the performance of former NHL forwards Rene Bourque and Derek Roy, who have been the team’s top options through the first three games of the tournament. Bourque comes into the tilt with Finland having scored three goals through the opening three games, while Roy ranks second among tournament skaters with five assists. Look for Ben Scrivens to start; he has 1.92 GAA and .920 save percentage in two starts.
The Finns opened group play with comfortable wins over Germany and Norway before running into a superior Sweden team that silenced Finland in a 3-1 victory. It’s difficult to know what to expect from the Finns who, like Canada, have thrived on weaker competition but fell short in their only matchup with a competitive roster. One thing is for certain, however: Finland has the firepower to match Canada if this game becomes a wide-open affair.
Eeli Tolvanen comes into the quarterfinals as the tournament’s leading scorer with three goals and six assists through four games; Petri Kontiola (six points) and Joonas Kemppainen (four) provide solid complimentary scoring, while former NHLer Sami Lepisto leads all defencemen in scoring with five points. Mikko Koskinen will likely start in goal after playing in each of the Finns’ first four games; he has a 1.76 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Canada vs. Finland Men’s Hockey Prediction
Canada 4, Finland 3