Finland Olympic Hockey Team 2014: Full 25-Man Roster, Projected Lines, Pairings

James OnuskoContributor IIIJanuary 7, 2014

Finland Olympic Hockey Team 2014: Full 25-Man Roster, Projected Lines, Pairings

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    Team Finland might not be one of the top two or three favourites heading into Olympic competition, but teams that underestimate them will do so at their own peril. Don't forget, the Finns are the defending bronze medallists from Vancouver.

    They announced their roster Tuesday morning, and there were no real surprises other than veteran Saku Koivu not making the cut.

    The Finns have the best goaltending group of any country, and their defensive play can frustrate the most talented players in the world.

    While Finland is not a gold-medal favourite, it will not be surprising if it brings medals home from Russia.

    Let's take a look at Team Finland's 25-man roster, line combinations, defensive pairings and its outstanding goaltenders.

     

    Unless otherwise noted, all stats can be found on hockeydb.com.

Complete 25-Man Roster

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    Forwards: Juhamatti Aaltonen, Aleksander Barkov, Valterri Filppula, Mikael Granlund, Jussi Jokinen, Olli Jokinen, Mikko Koivu, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola, Lauri Korpikoski, Jori Lehtera, Antti Pihlstrom, Tuomo Ruutu, Teemu Selanne.

    Defencemen: Juuso Hietanen, Lasse Kukkonen, Sami Lepisto, Olli Maatta, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen, Ossi Vaananen, Sami Vatanen.  

    Goalies: Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, Kari Lehtonen.

1st Forward Line

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    Tuomo Ruutu, Left Wing: Ruutu has not had a great season in Carolina, but he'll get ample opportunity to shine in Sochi.

    Mikko Koivu, Centre: Mikko Koivu is capable of dominating opposing centres with his great two-way play. He will have to get over his recent ankle injury in short order, but expect Koivu to do all that he can to be on the ice in Sochi.

    Jussi Jokinen, Right Wing: If games go to a shootout, expect Jussi Jokinen to be front and centre for the Finns.

    What's Expected: This is not an imposing first line, but all three players will play hard in all three zones. 

2nd Forward Line

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    Leo Komarov, Left Wing: The former Toronto Maple Leafs winger has put up good numbers in the KHL this season.

    Valtteri Filppula , Centre: Filppula has been very good in Tampa Bay this season. He could see some time on the top unit for Finland as well.

    Mikael Granlund, Right Wing: The young Minnesota Wild forward is versatile and capable of playing big minutes if asked to do so in Russia.

    What's Expected: This line will provide secondary scoring for Team Finland, with Filppula likely playing some tough minutes against some offensive-minded trios. 

3rd Forward Line

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    Teemu Selanne, Left Wing: The future Hall of Famer has struggled offensively with Anaheim, but don't be surprised if he scores some big goals in his final Olympic appearance.

    Olli Jokinen, Centre: Jokinen has enough size, speed and skill to play on any of the four lines that Finland will have in Sochi. He'll play a variety of roles for Finland.

    Lauri Korpikoski, Right Wing: The Phoenix Coyotes winger has good size and can play the kind of two-way hockey that Team Finland will require from its bottom-six forwards.

    What's Expected: This line will have enough speed and defensive savvy to frustrate opponents at every turn. It could turn out to be one of the better third lines in Sochi.

4th Forward Line

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    Juhamatti Aaltonen, Left Wing: The veteran forward has never played an NHL game, but his numbers in the SM-Liiga have been very consistent over the years.

    Aleksander Barkov, Centre: The rookie centre for the Florida Panthers has played well beyond his years. He'll have a limited role in Sochi, but with his high hockey IQ, it wouldn't be surprising to see his role expanded by the end of the tournament.

    Petri Kontiola, Right Wing: The former Blackhawk draft pick has been a solid player in the KHL since 2009. 

    What's Expected: The fourth line will be counted on to play a 200-foot game, with defence being first on their minds as a group.

Extra Forwards

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    Jori Lehtera, Centre: The former St. Louis Blues draft pick can provide depth down the middle if required. He has 32 points in the KHL this season.

    Antti Pihlstrom, Left Wing: Don't expect Pihlstrom to dress unless there are injuries to the top group of forwards. He has put up some good numbers in the AHL in the past, though.

1st Defensive Pairing

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    Kimmo Timonen, Left Defence: Timonen is a very good puck-moving defender who will play top minutes in Sochi.

    Sami Salo, Right Defence: Not many defenders can shoot the puck as hard as Salo. He and Timonen will be tasked with playing against some of the top lines that other teams have to offer.

    What's Expected: The Finnish defence knows they have some great goaltending, but their defence-first system will require them to be both disciplined and intelligent with the puck at all times.

2nd Defensive Pairing

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    Ossi Vaananen, Left Defence: The 6'4" former NHL blueliner won't be expected to score in Sochi, but his veteran leadership will be important.

    Olli Maatta, Right Defence: This young defender has all-world talent. If paired with Vaananen, he'll be able to make the odd mistake and know the veteran will have his back.

    What's Expected: This pairing could be decisive in some games if the first pairing can't log all of the minutes as a shutdown pair.

3rd Defensive Pairing

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    Sami Lepisto, Left Defence: The former Washington Capital draft pick has put up some good numbers in what most consider to be the second-best league in the world, the KHL.

    Sami Vatanen, Right Defence: The former AHL star has wonderful offensive skills that will serve him well during fast-paced Olympic matchups.

    What's Expected: Finland will need all of their defenders to be at their best if they hope to challenge the top teams in the tournament.

Extra Defensemen

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    Lasse Kukkonen, Left Defence: The Chicago Blackhawk draft pick has good offensive skills and is capable of playing at the highest level if injuries hit Team Finland.

    Juuso Hietanen, Right Defence: At just 5'9", Hietanen will not overwhelm anyone with his size, but he has a lot of offensive upside. He can play on the power play if the club needs him to do so.

Goaltenders

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    Tuukka Rask, Starter: The Boston Bruins starter has been stellar this season and could be the MVP for Team Finland in Sochi. Team Finland's defensive strength begins with the athletic Rask. 

    Antti Niemi, Backup: The talented San Jose Sharks netminder will get some important starts in Russia, particularly if Rask falters at all.

    Kari Lehtonen, Third String: While Lehtonen is unlikely to play much, if at all in Russia, if Finland needs him, he's one of the best third-string goalies in the world.