Winter Olympics 2014: Finland upsets the USA to win bronze

Streeter Lecka

After being the highest scoring team at the Olympics through their first four games, Team USA couldn't score when it mattered and was shutout twice in a row.

It couldn't have been more storybook for Finland. A tightly fought first period of Finnish style hockey ended in a scoreless tie, but Finland took over immediately in the second on the back of who else? 43 year old Teemu Selanne, playing in his sixth Olympic games, scored first for Finland, added another goal in the third period, and won his fifth Olympic medal.

It will be the last Olympic games for Teemu, ending an Olympic career unmatched by anyone. 26 Olympic goals, the oldest player to ever score, and at 43, outscored by just two players this year after notching 4 goals in 6 games.

This was a transition year for Finland, a country that has seen more success than anyone but Canada in best on best tournament since the fall of the Soviet Union, with Sweden being right there with them. The stars of yesteryear in Selanne, Kimmo Timonen, Saku Koivu, Sami Salo, and Olli Jokinen, will be unlikely to see another Olympics. Young stars of the next generation like Mikael Granlund and Aleksander Barkov were seeing their first games, while others like Teuvo Teravainen have another four years to wait.

The center depth Finland hoped to bring to the games was decimated with Mikko Koivu announced he couldn't make it, Valtteri Filppula went down with injury late, and Barkov went down early in the tournament.

Nearly everyone counted this team out as medal contenders, even though most acknowledged that their hard-nosed defensive style could make them upset contenders. Yet here they are, winning bronze again, their fourth medal in five Olympics since NHLers have been involved.

Perhaps it's time for hockey fans to stop counting out Finland, a country that continually "overperforms" is just a country that's performing to their own expectations. After suffering a heartbreaking loss to their natural hockey rivals just 24 hours ago, the Finns put it out of their minds, and delivered a dominating performance over the favoured Team USA.

Hands are wringing in America, as the highest scoring team coming into the semifinals was shutout twice in a row when it mattered. The anger and frustration has somehow been channeled towards Jonathan Quick by some, even though he was near perfect against Canada the game before.

The real problem for the Americans to my eye was the defensive core, which is what was criticized by stats aficionados when the team was named to begin with. Brooks Orpik was a pure negative for the USA, leading to questions about why Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien were ignored?

At forward, with the offense drying up, the deficiencies of Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan became startlingly obvious. Could the USA really have been worse off playing the highest per minute even strength goal scorer America has in Max Pacioretty more than 10 minutes a game? Would Bobby Ryan's lack of intensity have been worse than the rest of the roster, filled with so-called leaders, in a 5-0 drubbing?

It's easy to second guess after missing out on medals entirely, but that's what the USA faces for the next four years. Maybe next time they won't laugh at the guy who brings stats to the table.

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