Source of photo: Yle.fi 

The lion’s road to Sochi begins now. It’s a tough task for Erkka Westerlund to lead this team through this year. A lot of questions need answer. Will they come or will more questions appear?

No need really for the lions to win these games in Czech against the home nation, Russia and Sweden. But one of the questions he has: what KHL-players will he pick to Sochi?

Goalies:
31 Mikko Koskinen, Blues
 35 Atte Engren, HC Lev Praha (KHL)

Defence:
 2 Teemu Laakso, Severstal Tsherepovets (KHL)
 4 Oskari Korpikari, Pelicans 
5 Atte Ohtamaa, Kärpät
 18 Sami Lepistö, Avtomobilist Jekaterinburg (KHL)
 24 Mikko Kousa, Jokerit
 28 Jyri Marttinen, Ässät
 38 Juuso Hietanen, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)
 47 Ville Lajunen, Färjestads BK (SWE)

Forwards:
12 Jori Lehterä, Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)
 13 Petteri Wirtanen, Donbass Donetsk (KHL) 
19 Veli-Matti Savinainen, Jugra Hanty-Mansijsk (KHL) 
20 Jesse Mankinen, SaiPa 
21 Iiro Pakarinen, HIFK 
22 Toni Koivisto, Lukko
 23 Sakari Salminen, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)
 25 Pekka Jormakka, Tappara
 26 Oskar Osala, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL)
 40 Jarno Koskiranta, Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)
 42 Jere Sallinen, HPK
 46 Teemu Ramstedt 
71 Leo Komarov, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)

Spontaneously I feel at the moment Leo Komarov, Sami Lepistö and Juuso Hietanen from this squad has a chance to join the Sochi-team. Of course there are no certain spots in the squad and shouldn’t be either. Even the NHL-players have to do their absolute best during the season in their clubs. Those players, who are in shape until the flight goes from Helsinki to Russia, shall play. That’s simple.

Yes, it matters what players you have in the squad, but it also matters what kind of game idea you’ll bring to the tournament. Finland’s intention to play straight towards the goal and create a lot of opportunities front of the net, is alright, although they use to run out of gas too often when the third period is about begin. That happen last world championship for example, but that has to change now.

That’s the most difficult thing for Westerlund or any other coach to find, a good balance between run n gun game and a solid defense. Not even by those players who can handle it by good condition, but also with a skillful mind that is awake and can register game changes during 60 minutes and adjust the way of play according the changes that appears.

Thursday 29th august: Finland – Czech Republic 16.55 CET

Saturday 31st august: Finland – Russia 12.30 CET

Sunday 1st September: Finland – Sweden 12.30 CET

/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala, Betsafe

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from Finnish Liiga and national teams. 

 

A lot about hockey these days despite that it is July. Well, the teams are announcing their names for the Sochi Olympics. Finland and Erkka Westerlund have announced the preliminary squad for awhile ago. Here are the names of the lion squad:

Goalkeepers:
Niklas Bäckström,Kari Lehtonen,Antti Niemi,Antti Raanta,Tuukka Rask,Pekka Rinne Kari Rämö,Petri Vehanen

Defencemen:
Juuso Hietanen,Topi Jaakola,Joonas Järvinen,Jere Karalahti,Lasse Kukkonen,Teemu Laakso, Sami Lepistö,Toni Lydman,Tuukka Mäntylä,Janne Niskala,Petteri Nummelin,Joni Pitkänen,Sami Salo,Kimmo Timonen,Sami Vatanen,Ossi Väänänen

Forwards:
Juhamatti Aaltonen,Aleksander Barkov,Sean Bergenheim,Valtteri Filppula,Mikael Granlund,Niklas Hagman,Teemu Hartikainen,Juha-Pekka Hytönen,Jarkko Immonen,Jesse Joensuu,Jussi Jokinen,Olli Jokinen,Niko Kapanen,Mikko Koivu,Saku Koivu,Leo Komarov,Petri Kontiola,Lauri Korpikoski,Jarno Koskiranta,Jori Lehterä,Ville Leino,Antti Miettinen,Janne Pesonen,Lennart Petrell,Antti Pihlström,Jarkko Ruutu,Tuomo Ruutu,Sakari Salminen,Veli-Matti Savinainen,Teemu Selänne

Of course it is very interesting that Selänne, Koivu and Jokinen (Olli) might be there again, despite that all three said that they were done with the national team after the last Olympics in Vancouver 2010. I think all depends how they feel during the season until the olympics and how the actual condition is the days before leaving to Sochi. No doubt that they are still good, but I think it is more interesting and exiting with the new guys who never played such great tournament before.

If Selänne, Koivu and Jokinen won’t play, then Finland have stepped into a new era in hockey for sure. These guys has been there for a long time for sure, but somehow I really feel that it is time for a change. Not only because a change is needed, but there is after all new coming stars. Let them have the show.

Wise decision then by Westerlund to put the Barkov name on the list. He’s one of the most talented players at the moment and he’d be perfect for Sochi, no doubt at all. He’s not for holding in chains. Let him free and we’ll see rather some goalscoring.

I wonder how Petri Kontiola will handle the situation if – let us say – Selänne, Koivu and Jokinen added Mikko Koivu will play. Will he step back from the position as a leader for the team, a position he naturally picked after such a fine World championship tournament he did last? Or will he remain as one of the leaders or be THE leader?

Of course there is no guarantees for success (or fail) whatever Westerlund choose to do with the team and what players he will pick, but there must be a leader for the lion pack, a natural one and hopefully 3-4 guys who can show the way for the rest of the team.

About the goalies…I wonder if any team have such strong goaltending part (?). The goalies wont be a problem at all at the moment. I think though that we will see Tuukka Rask in Sochi.

Quite interesting autumn we’ll have I have to say. I think any player will make everything to make a place in the squad. Also, I am glad that NHL and IIHF have this agreement that the best players shall play in the Olympics.

Let us refresh our memories and watch some hockey sweet for the eye. Finland – Slovakia Olympic games 2010 in Vancouver. And I am looking forward for some revenge against the US team of course (Smile)

 

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/Arto Palovaara, from Arena Kalevala, Betsafe

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national teams.

 

The sun is shining despite that it is 8 o’clock in the evening. It’s incredible green everywhere I look. A part of the hockey guys are still battling about Stanley cup while other teams in other leagues and countries also in USA and Canada have some vacation or begun their pre-season a bit.

Some of the soccer people are waiting for the confederation cup in Brazil, other people are planning to make a trip to Seinäjoki for the tango market, where they decide who is the king of queen of tango this year.

Perhaps a great part of you North American (dear) readers might not understand that part, that tango is a national folkdance in Finland since 100 years back, like or perhaps even bigger than it is in Argentina, the origin tango country.

This year it is 100-year anniversary of tango in Finland: 1913 the tango was introduced the first time at the Apollo theater in Helsinki and spread like a fire through the country. Nowadays the tango has their own big festival in Seinäjoki that is followed by several hundred thousands  of visitors every year and broadcasting TV of course.

Me? Well, I do actually appreciate tango music. Somehow I always bounce back to my heritage from time to time when I am on that mood and feel sort of warmth inside me that I can’t explain. Let us say that I value the tango very high, much because it is a part of me.

Anyway that is what is going this summer in Finland as the big thing. If you’re visiting Europe, make a stop by Finland and Seinäjoki for a day or two when the tango festival is going on. Who knows: You might after all become “a Finn”.

Read more here about the tango in Finland if you’d like to know more: Tangofestival in Seinäjoki and the history of the festival also the history of Finnish tango. 

Even if the sun rise high above us late at the evening here in Northern Europe, things are changing. The national team, the big lions, are standing by the cross road and waiting for new directions where to go. Jukka Jalonen has resigned as head coach. Erkka Westerlund together with Lauri Marjamäki and Hannu Virta are taking the position to lead the team through the coming season 2013-14. That means Sochi Olympics and the World championship tournament.

Then what?

Well, the hockey association of Finland announced about a week ago that Kari Jalonen is taking the charge of the lions after Westerlund. I don’t know if some of you recall that Jalonen was a former player in NHL that he played in both Alberta teams: Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. But so he did. He has also several SM-liiga gold as head coach for Oulun Kärpät and Helsinki IFK and as assistant coach for TPS Turku. Last he was in Russia and the KHL-team Torpedo Nizhniy Novgorod.

No doubt that he is experienced, as hockey player and coach.

Somehow I feel that it is not only the Finnish national team that is standing on a cross road waiting where to go. The hockey family, the number of top teams are expanding, The Swiss team from this year 2013 is a good example.

It is not certain to achieve a medal these days the same “easy way” like it was for 10-15 years ago. Which I think it is good. It shall and shouldn’t be easy during any circumstance. Much because it wouldn’t be good at all for the hockey as sport and people in general want exciting games and tournaments. But on what ground will Finland stand in this?

Ideas and values are the fundaments that form a team and organization.

Finland has always played a game with a lot of heart from coast to coast, reminding a bit of transatlantic hockey but no that really well organized as Canada (that’s where the brain comes in). But when they have attached the heart and mind together, they have also won, like 1995 and 2011 or ended the tournament as top 4 at least.

However, I like the Finnish way to play hockey. It is entertaining. Run’n'gun. Woohoo! Here we go again! (I see a picture in my head of a crazy Tuomo Ruutu)

But you can’t play always that kind of game every time. It has to be modified from one moment to another. Not because of the opponents really but because of the own players who joined in at the moment depending on the NHL-teams, if they are still in bat or out of the game.

So, it will be very interesting to follow where and to what level Kari Jalonen will lead the lions. How will he modified the values that held up the shield on the jerseys and make it to become a successful squad? Note that I am not saying “winning”. Much because that it will not be easy at all to achieve the gold medal or any medal at all.

You might ask what and where the heck is the success in this?

In this particular case success for Finland would be, if start from the bottom and upwards: to be and remain as top 5-time in World championship tournaments, the Olympics and world cup. That’s realistic. I am not sure if anyone would or could ask for more, at least I wouldn’t or can’t. Hope for a medal is something else, that’s a dream and I allow myself to dream and hope for the highest position of course.

The following questions for the hockey association of Finland will be:

Where to bring Finnish ice hockey in the future, let us say the next coming 10 years? How to educate competitive youth players that grows to stars in the SM-liiga and elsewhere like NHL, KHL or other leagues, who will also fill up the national team squads and carry the Finnish way to play the game?

You see, there is a red thread through that has to become clear so that everyone who is involved in this mission can see what and how to do: all the way from small clubs over the whole country up to the national squad.

While we are enjoying the summer with all kind of activities like the tango festival, these questions are still hiding in the mist.

/Arto Palovaara, at Arena Kalevala and Betsafe.

Connecting the worldwide hockey family closer to each other by telling stories from the Finnish SM-liiga and national teams.

 

 

 

 

Earlier this week it was reported that the NHL was finalizing the addition of 5 more outdoor games to the 2013-2014 NHL schedule. Honestly, this is the last thing that should be on their mind. Below are four things I find to be more important than adding 5 outdoor games.

 

1. What is going on with the Coyotes?

      Honestly, does anyone know what is going on with the Coyotes Organization right now? Are they staying? Are they going? Is there a buyer? At the end of the season if there is no viable income coming from the organization I say shut it down. Don’t even think twice about it, just shut it down. I know that sounds callous but this has been a hot button for a few years now. At what point do you stop talking and start doing?

 

2. Where are the two new teams going?

The NHL took the time to release the finalized realignment yet no one knows where the new teams will be located. I’ve heard rumblings of Seattle and Ontario.  Although putting a team in Ontario will likely mess with the realignment and force a newly moved team back to the East. Toronto would also benefit from having a second NHL team. Unfortunately, the NHL would have to deal with the same issue as putting a team in Ontario. Quebec would be out for the same exact reason too. So where should the NHL put two, maybe three, teams?

a) Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage has a lot of attractions to draw people into the idea of going to see a hockey game there. I know I would travel from Ohio to Alaska to take in a game, go to the zoo, and see a few glaciers before they all melt. Plus, Brandon Dubinsky is from Alaska. Need I say more?

b) North Dakota/ South Dakota

You can’t honestly tell me that people in those two states do not like hockey. The question is are there enough people in either state who would come out to a NHL game.

c) New Orleans, Louisiana

This one is probably the biggest reach of them all. I have no clue where they would build a stadium or if people in the area would go to a game. For some reason the thought of putting a team in NOLA intrigues me. In the off season, which is most of hockey season, travel is inexpensive. Plus, believe it or not, there are a lot of hockey fans in Mississippi and Arkansas. Could the NHL corner the market on the southern fans by putting a team in NOLA? Is it worth the risk?

d) Regina, Saskatchewan

I don’t know much about Canada but I do know that I enjoy saying the word Saskatchewan. I’d also like to see the country that invented the game have a few more teams. Plus, it would be nice for the Jets to have a Canadian team nearby.

 

One of the biggest challenges of expanding the NHL is creating a buzz for these new teams. I would have no problem with adding two, or three, extra outdoor games next year. This would be a one year only thing and it would be in the town of the new team. Their opponents for those games should be the 2012-2013 Stanley Cup winner and whatever two teams would draw in the biggest crowd. If you’re in the business of making money and not making your fans angry this would have been the route to take.

 

3. Where’s my All-Star Game?

The city of Columbus has been asking this question for quite some time. When Columbus lost the All-Star game with the lock out an estimated 72 million dollars  in earnings went with it. A lot of time and effort went into preparing for the All-Star game. Shirts were made, banners hung, and new hotels were built. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the havoc you wrecked upon the wonderful Columbus Blue Jackets ticket reps. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have to take those angry/frustrated calls from fans? Bless their hearts. So NHL if you could give the All-Star game back to Columbus that  would be great.

 

4. The Olympics

Apparently the Olympics are still a hot topic right now. Should the NHL let them play? Should the NHL not let them play? For me the answer is “Yes, we should let them play in the Olympics”.

Every four years hockey becomes relevant in the United States. For two weeks “mainstream” sports fans are glued to their televisions watching games. They are constantly checking their phones for updates. Names like Kane, Kesler, Howard, and Johnson become household names through out America. People begin to realize that the term “icing” does not just apply to cupcakes. Yes, during those two weeks our favorite players names get slaughtered. Yes, we field a lot of elementary hockey questions. Who cares people are finally invested in hockey.

The NHL constantly talks about wanting to create more revenue and draw in new fans. Letting the players participate in the Olympics can do just those things. Pretty much every television around the world is tuned into the Olympics. If any of the NHL players do well  people in other countries are going to order “Game Center Live” and different television packages so they can continue to watch their favorite player. They are going to order jerseys and fan gear. Who knows they may even come to America and Canada to see their favorite Olympian play in a NHL game. So why even entertain the thought of not allowing players to participate in one of the most prestigious events to ever exist? What does the NHL gain from not letting them play? I’ll tell you what they gain : angry fans and angry players. Especially since these guys are already entering into Olympic training mode.

 

 

 

 

Last week I took a look at a possible Team Canada roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Today I’ll take a look at a possible Team U.S.A. roster.

Let me know what you think, perhaps throw your own roster out there if you have the time.

Forwards

Patrick Kane – Ryan Callahan – Zach Parise

Phil Kessel – Ryan Kesler – Bobby Ryan

Dustin Brown – Joe Pavelski – David Backes

Max Pacioretty – Paul Stastny – James Van Riemsdyk

Justin Abdelkader

In the mix: T.J. Oshie, Derek Stepan, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, R.J. Umberger, Blake Wheeler and Nathan Gerbe

Pretty deep and solid forward lines but after the top 13 guys it drops off a bit.

Defence

Ryan Suter – Kevin Shattenkirk

Keith Yandle – Jack Johnson

Dustin Byfuglien – John Carlson

Ryan Mcdonagh

In the mix: Erik Johnson, Tim Gleason, Ryan Whitney, Nick Leddy, Matt Carle, Alex Gologski, and Keith Ballard

Solid group of D-men here, E. Johnson, Gleason or Keith Ballard could also easily step in.

Goalies

Jonathan Quick

Ryan Miller

Cory Schneider

In the mix: Tim Thomas, Craig Anderson, and Jimmy Howard

If Craig Anderson keeps his stellar play up from this year through next year, you may see him jump right in there, possibly as the #1. Blue Jackets, you mad about the trade? I would be. If Tim Thomas plays next year and has a Vezina type season, he might make a push as well.

All in all, could the States take home the gold medal? Absolutely they could, they have all the tools to win in a short tournament and they’re really not weak anywhere. Are they as deep as Team Canada and as full of big names? No, but they definitely have the talent to win and beat any team out there.

Hat tip to Zimbio.com again for the use of the photos.

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

 

 

Since TSN, Sportsnet and many other media types seem to be putting out their predictions on the rosters for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi for Team Canada. We little folk over at Crash the Net felt like we should do our own considering we disagree with most prognosticators out there, in some areas.

 

Please take a look at what we’ve put together for not just one Team Canada but two teams just for bits and giggles.

 

Please feel free to comment.

 

FORWARDS Team 1

 

James Neal -Sidney Crosby-Steven Stamkos

Rick Nash-Jonathan Toews – Eric Staal

Claude Giroux –Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry

Patrick Sharp-Patrice Bergeron-Jordan Eberle

John Tavares

For these forward lines you have a nice mix of offensive players and a 2-way player on each line. Perhaps a little less on Crosby’s line and you could flip flop Eric Staal with James Neal on the wing. Needless to say there are centers that will need to play on the wing due to the overabundance of talent down the middle.

DEFENCE Team 1

 

Duncan Keith-Drew Doughty

Kris Letang-Shea Weber

Brent Seabrook-Alex Pietrangelo

Marc Staal

Now that Ryan Suter and Shea Weber are split up, there’s no doubt who the best D tandem in the NHL is and that is, once again, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. However, we all remember how good Keith and Doughty were in the last Olympics so it wouldn’t hurt to start them out together. If Doughty has not improved his play by that time, there would be little hesitation moving Seabrook up with Keith.

GOALTENDERS Team 1

 

Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Cam Ward,

As much hate as there is out there for Roberto Luongo, there is no doubt what he brings to the table plus he is a past Olympic gold champion. He’s arguably playing better than he ever has in his career right now and if he keeps it up there should be no doubt who is the starter for Team Canada.

Now here is a look at who would be Team Canada’s second unit from Crash The Net’s point of view. Obviously, several of these players could make a push for Team 1.

FORWARDS Team 2

 

Jamie Benn- Joe Thornton – Patrick Marleau

Jeff Skinner – Mike Richards – Tyler Seguin

Logan Couture – Vincent Lecavalier – Martin St. Louis

Jarome Iginla – Brad Richards- Jordan Staal

Taylor Hall

Again, nice spreading out of offensive and 2-way players on each line with the possible exception of the Lecavalier line but there are options with these lineups where you can interchange some players.

Other notable forwards: Milan Lucic, Matt Duchene. Jason Pominville, Scott Hartnell, Dan Briere, , Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane

 

DEFENCE Team 2

 

Michael Del Zotto – Dion Phaneuf

Justin Schultz – Tyler Myers

P.K. Subban – Brent Burns

Daniel Girardi

Other defencemen notables: Dan Hamhuis, Dan Boyle, Brayden Coburn, Kevin Bieksa,

Very young D corps here plus the future of Team Canada’s Olympic defencemen. How fun would it be to watch this group play together?

GOALTENDERS Team 2

Marc- Andre Fleury- Martin Brodeur –Corey Crawford

 

Other goaltender notables Mike Smith, Brian Elliott

The goaltending in the NHL is American/European heavy for elite goalies but there are some top notch ones left. Many will argue Fleury could start for team 1 but let us not forget about cagey veteran Martin Brodeur who is still playing at an extremely high level and just coming off a Stanley Cup final appearance with New Jersey. Brodeur just played his 1200th NHL game the other night.

Are you in full agreement with these two teams? Would you like to see some changes? Please discuss and let us know.

Hat tip to Zimbio.com for the photos

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

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