Finland must regroup at loss to Swedes
The Finns were dominated by their blood rival in the Group C finale, losing 3-0 in a game that, at times, was not even that competitive. It was the first time in Olympic competition the two teams had met since Sweden took the gold medal from the Finns in 2006 with a 3-2 victory, one of the most painful losses in Finnish history.
Sunday night, at Canada Hockey Place, a gold medal was not at stake. But the top spot in Group C was up for grabs in this final game of Showdown Sunday. And once again, the Finns found success not quite to their liking.
"I think we lost in every area," veteran forward Teemu Selanne told NHL.com. "There are no excuses.
"I was very disappointed, but we did not do things right or the way we wanted them."
As a result, the Finns now face a slightly tougher road to the medal round. Yes, they still receive a bye into the quarterfinals as the best second-place team, but they are the No. 4 seed instead of occupying the No. 2 seed Sweden claimed, or the No. 1 seed that would've been the Finns' if they would've beat Sweden in regulation.
Finland now awaits the winner of Tuesday's quarterfinal between the Czech Republic and the Latvia. Sweden, meanwhile, faces the winner of a Tuesday quarterfinal game between Slovakia and Norway.
In the hours after the loss to Sweden, there was very little thought about who will be waiting in Wednesday's game, which will played without the services of defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who must serve a mandatory one-game suspension for the major-penalty hit to the head he delivered to Patric Hornqvist with 49 seconds left in the second period.
Instead, the Finns were too busy worrying about which team will show up for their next game.
Will it be the team that ran up a 10-1 goal differential in games against Germany and Belarus? Or will it be the team that couldn't generate a consistent attack against Sweden on Sunday night?
"I think there is something to work on after this game," veteran forward Ville Peltonen told NHL.com. "We have to make sure we play better as a five-man unit. We have to defend better and that way we will get better chances offensively."
The Finns actually have much on which to apply their industry with the extra day of practice they earned by virtue of the bye.
"We might need two days now because we played such a bad game," defenseman Kimmo Timonen told NHL.com. "We might need a couple of meetings and really see what we did wrong. Sweden was way better today."
They won't have to watch film, though, to know their lethal power play showed up DOA on Sunday. After scoring six power-play goals in the first two games, Finland went 0-for-7, including two failed five-on-three advantages.
"It just doesn't work every time like a clock," Peltonen said. "We basically had enough time to do it, but maybe the last pass wasn't good enough for a one-timer or whatever it was in the five-on-three."
Timonen also admitted that Sweden defends far better than either Belarus or Germany. With that said, however, he believes it was the responsibility of his team to raise its level of play.
"Obviously it was a different opponent," Timonen said. "They don't give you as much room as the last two teams. We had some chances, but we can do a way better job than we did today. Overall, the team effort wasn't there.
"I'm sure we will have a meeting to see what was wrong. But we can play really well, way better than we did today."