It’s the most eagerly awaited day: the final of the 2019 World Ice Hockey Championship!
Tonight in Slovakia, it’s gonna be Canada and Finland who will play for the gold medal. It’s a game that has thousands of meanings… in our opinion, the most important one is the “style”. Right, because Canada and Finland are the two teams who have two completely different systems of play.
We like more the Canadian style, even if only because of the emotions that only their style can transmit. But that’s just a matter of taste… in fact, we have so much respect for the Finnish style that, even though we find it “boring”, it’s surely a winning one.
CANADA vs FINLAND
Canada and Finland faced each other in the tournament opener in Slovakia, and back then the Finns earned a 3-1 win thanks to the goals scored by Kaapo Kakko (who scored twice) and Arttu Ilomako. Instead, it was Jonathan Marchessault who scored the consolation goal for the Canadians.
From that moment on, however, things slightly changed.
It was, in fact, the only defeat suffered by Canada in the tournament. After that, the Canadians won against – in the order – Great Britain, Slovakia, France, Germany, Denmark, United States, Switzerland (quarterfinals) and Czech Republic (semifinals).
Finland on the other hand, had a more difficult road. After that nice win earned against Canada in fact, the Finns won against Denmark, Great Britain and France. At the same time, however, they lost against in the group stage against United States and Germany. Then though, starting from the playoffs, Jukka Jalonen’s troops showed their claws and won against Sweden in the quarterfinals and against Russia in the semifinals!
Let’s see the two finalists…
14 points – Mark Stone (8G, 6A)
Mark Stone is performing very well at the Worlds. The 27 years old forward who plays for the Ottawa Senators (over 400 NHL career’s games), makes the difference thanks to his scoring ability and thanks to his size that allows him to be dominant especially in the offensive zone.
Ice hockey is a sport made of emotions. And the Canadians bring in tons of them. Alain Vigneault’s troops just never, but never, give up. Suffice it to say that in both cases against Slovakia in the group stage and against Switzerland in the quarterfinals, they equalized at the last gasp and then won both games in the overtime period.
When you play a final, oftentimes the winning mindset and the emotions make the difference. Even more than the “big names”. Well, in this regard, Canada seriously has all it takes to travel back home with a gold medal in the pocket!
10 points – Sakari Manninen (2G, 8A)
Sakari Manninen played last season with Jokerit Helsinki (KHL) and will play next season with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (always in the KHL). He’s not exactly a pure sniper, but he’s a very smart player with a great vision. Surely his size (170cm, 71kg) is not the main strength… but thanks to his speed he can drive the opponents nuts.
As we said, we’re not very excited when it comes to Finland’s system of play… yet, it’s only fair to aknowledge that it’s a winning style. The Finns drive their opponents nuts thanks to their defensive discipline. In fact, it’s very difficult to create many clear scoring chances when you play Finland.
Moreover, Jakko Jalonen’s troops showed – especially against Sweden and Russia – some real impressive character! On paper, Finland isn’t the strongest team of the tournament… but their commitment is outstanding. That’s something that can make the difference in the final.
2019 WORLDS HEAD TO HEAD STATS – CANADA vs FINLAND
GOALS FOR & GOALS AGAINST
Both Canada and Finland are rock solid in defense. When it comes to goals scored instead, the Candians look much better than the Finns…
SCORING & SAVING PERCENTAGE
Canada has a great scoring percentage (12.9%)… Finland on the other hand, must become more accurate in front of the net. As regard the saving percentage instead, it’s safe to say that the two teams are equivalent.
POWER-PLAY & PENALTY-KILLING
Power-play opportunities are oftentimes pivotal during a hockey game… and this is even more true during a “do or die” game like a final. In this regard, Canada has been impressive so far and has a 50% power-play efficiency (yep, guys, 50%!). On the other hand, the Finns are slightly better penalty killers than Canada.
As we said, power-play opportunities can make the difference… therefore, whenever possible, you should prevent the opponents from having them. In this regard, it’s clear that Finland are much more disciplined than Canada.
TRIVIA CANADA vs FINLAND
Let’s have a look at the previous times Canada and Finland faced each other at the World Ice Hockey Championsip final in the playoffs era, that is starting from the 1994 Worlds that were held in Italy.
Finland vs Canada 1-2 (SO)
It was exactly during the first Worlds of the playoffs era that Finland and Canada faced each other in the final for the first time. The Canadians earned a 2-1 shootouts win… the Finns took the lead with Esa Keskinen in the 46th minute of play… but Canada equalized with less than 5 minutes left to play with Rod Brind’Amour and then won the gold medal at the end of the shootouts series!
Canada vs Finland 4-2
Also back in 2007 in Moscow (Russia), it was Canada who won the gold medal thanks to a 4-2 win. The Canadians took a 3-goals lead with Rick Nash, Eric Staal and Colby Armstrong. Finland then made it a brand new game thanks to Petri Kontiola and Antti Miettinen… but finally, Rick Nash set the 4-2 final score.
Canada vs Finland 2-0
The last time Canada and Finland played in the final, before tonight, was back in 2016 and also in that case the game was scheduled in Moscow (Russia). And also in that case, the Canadians prevailed… 2-0 the final score thanks to the goals scored by Connor McDavid and Matt Duchene.
We mean, it looks like there is no deal to make for Finns when they face Canada in the final. Will the same story repeat itself tonight? One thing is sure… this game promises to be exciting and we just can’t wait for the first puck drop!
Good Luck, Canada and Finland!