TORONTO – The rivalry between Sweden and Finland is strange.
Overall, players from rival nations respect each other. In many cases, the Swedes and the Finns are teammates in their respective NHL teams. But in the case of international competition, there is a mentality without limits. Even in the two World Cup Hockey preseason games was a bloody battle. It will be on display again when the two clash in the best-on-best tournament on Tuesday (3 pm ET, ESPN) at Air Canada Centre.
“I do not know how big the US-Canada [rivalry] is, but I think it is very similar between Finland-Sweden,” said Teemu Selanne legendary Finnish player. “Obviously, there is much respect between us, and Sweden is always hard to beat. We felt like we were older brothers and younger brothers always want to beat the older brothers, so that’s what usually has been. I think they are even a little jealous of the greatness of a sports country that is in all sports. I think we try to follow them and beat them. it is a great rivalry because there is so much respect, and I think we beat them more of what they want to beat us. I think they have more rivalry with Norway in general in sports. ”
Team North America, loaded with talent Finland 23 years and younger list, players, dismantled in their first match. If Finland can not respond against his rival, who will be a short tournament.
“We did not play well the first game, and [Tuesday] will do almost life or death game, and if you can not be ready before Sweden, I do not know if I ever will be ready,” Selanne said.
In past tournaments, Sweden has maintained the lead. In the Olympics, Sweden has a 5-2-3 record over Finland. World Cup of Hockey Jersey / Canada Cup, Sweden is 3-2-1. It’s a rivalry that all current players on both lists learned about at an early age, and once you pull that sweater for their respective team’s all about pride.
“Those are the people remember games in Sweden,” said Swedish forward Carl Hagelin. “They are larger than any NHL game. For fans back home, you want to make sure you are giving them everything they want, and that’s a win. No matter how it looks out there, what you want to get the two points.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun. I just remember growing from 5 years or watching the World Championship, and Sweden against Finland was always great games, always sets of medals, if it was the last game or the game of bronze. You could sense that all players on the ice would not kill the other guys, but I wanted to go out and fight as hard as I could. it was exciting games and anything can happen. ”
It is a different team Finland Sweden used to play. Finland is younger and Selanne, Saku Koivu and Sami Salo are not walking in that locker room. The term “bad blood” is commonly used when the US team players and Team Canada described the rivalry. It is different from the case of Sweden and Finland. These players think of it as a history book for hockey.
Sweden goalie Henrik Lundqvist won the Olympic gold (2006) and silver (2014) and want to win this tournament too, especially since this could be his last international arena.
“What makes the special rivalry is history,” Lundqvist said. “You look at all special games you’ve played against each other and so the United States and Canada is very special. Returning, they have had a lot of memorable games, and that is the case with Sweden and Finland as well. But end, it’s still the same game and do not want to complicate or make it bigger than it is, just try to go out and be very focused on their own performance and try to do as well as you can. ”
During the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Finland Tuukka Rask goalkeeper the semifinal match against Sweden was lost because he was sick. Finland lost that match 2-1, and netminder Kari Lehtonen backup finished with 23 saves. Rask returned to play the bronze medal and led the team to victory over the US But was this lost game against Sweden, which pursues to this day, and is hoping to get the nod on Tuesday.
“Yes, absolutely. Absolutely,” he said. “As a goalkeeper, as an athlete, which thrive in big games in big situations. You want to perform at a high level when it is really necessary. It’s against Sweden, so it is a big deal back home. it is important for our team game and you do not want to look back at what happened before you have to concentrate on the moment, and tomorrow against Sweden;. if I play I will try to be at my best and feel good about myself. ”
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