We already know who the winner of this game will face, as the host Swedes hung on to knock off the Russians 2-1 for their ticket to the gold medal game. This will no doubt act as a motivator for the Finns, who would love nothing more than a winner take all game against their neighbours and bitter rivals.
There was some question about any fallout for the Swedes from the brawl at the end of that game, which saw a Swedish player leave the bench to fight a Russian skater, but after all that, just one minor penalty was handed out, and not an ejection (which would see that player suspended for the gold medal game). I'll let you make your assumptions about the host country, but that non-call's as baffling as the one where the Czech player drilled a linesman into the boards and got a roughing penalty a few games back.
Zach Fucale will be between the pipes again for Team Canada as they look to get a shot at winning their first gold in the tournament in 5 years. They'll also be looking for another big game from Anthony Mantha, who sits second in tournament scoring with 5 goals and 6 assists for 11 points. Mantha scored twice in a pre-tournament game against the Finns, leading Canada to a 4-2 victory. The Finns will be looking to beat Canada for the first time in 13 years.
Meanwhile, after a couple bloody awful games against Philadelphia and Tampa Bay, the Canucks are back on the road, starting what is likely the most important 2 week stretch of the season. They play LA and Anaheim twice, plus St Louis and Phoenix, and what the hell, let's throw Pittsburgh in there for good measure. January sees them play 15 games in 31 days, and when the smoke clears, it should finally let us see just how ready this team is to battle for the playoffs, whether they're going to load up for a long run or prepare for another disappointing early exit.
The good news is that the Canucks have played some of their best hockey on the road this year, playing a very no-nonsense, lunch bucket kind of hockey, and rattled off some big wins in the process. That kind of play would go a long way to helping them as they take on the Kings, as a regulation win will see the Canucks vault past the struggling Kings into 3rd in the Pacific. The Kings have lost 5 straight and well, when Darryl Sutter teams go on runs like that, he gets cranky. And when he gets cranky, the Kings get douchey. Prepare for a long evening of post-whistle scrums, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty cheapshots, and another Kings diving master class.
The other good news is that we could see Roberto Luongo back in goal tonight after missing a few games with a groin injury thanks to the Dustin Byfuglupagus nutshot against the Jets before Christmas. Eddie Lack's been good in his absence, but the Canucks will need their #1 goalie giving the kind of goaltending he's provided most of the year if they want to keep in this ultra-competitive Pacific Division playoff race. And with a win tonight, that would bring Luongo to 250 career wins.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
Iron Reagan is a little side project featuring members of Municipal Waste and Darkest Hour that kicks a whole lotta ass. They have recently released a split with Exhumed, following up their 2013 debut 'Worse Than Dead'. Kinda like a punkier, more political MW, I really dig this, especially this great video for 'Mini Lights'.
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