The men’s ice hockey bronze medal game will drop the puck at 10am EST on February 22nd with Finland facing a strongly favored Team USA. It will be a hard match for either team to really gear up for as they both lost by one goal in the semi-finals to their respective opponents. The oddsmakers prefer Team USA at -185 compared to the Finnish squad which is a +150 dog this coming Sunday.
The loss to Canada on Friday was a tough pill for Team USA to swallow. They had been building to that moment for the entire tournament; stomping opponents left and right for a highly anticipated rematch against their biggest rivals on the ice. And even then they couldn’t get it done. I don’t know how much wind that’s going to take out of Team USA’s sails to be honest. It certainly makes me concerned about their chances in the men’s ice hockey bronze medal game.
But there’s lots of reason to be optimistic about Team USA as favorites on Sunday. First off, Jonathan Quick turned away 36-of-37 shots from the best team in the tournament. Secondly, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel were hell bent on producing scoring chances, accounting for 12 of Team USA’s 31 shots. There’s fire in the belly of these boys…whether they can stoke the flames in what feels like a meaningless bronze medal game free pick remains to be seen.
Team Finland is actually a worthy take because unlike Team USA, they never had any serious aspirations in this tournament. To be honest, they weren’t even projected to make the bronze medal game. But they have continually played beyond expectation and losing 2-1 against Sweden in a game that simply came down to lucky bounces is nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a lot of youth that is moving forward on Team Finland, and a nice mix of veterans who can keep this side focused and dialed in.
Team USA should win the bronze medal. They deserve it after a strong tournament, but I’m just not sure if they’ll be able to get over the loss and really lace up the skates tightly against Finland. They weren’t satisfied with a silver medal in 2010…they’ll hardly care about the bronze on Sunday. That’s why I like Team Finland as a +150 dog to go barking up the podium in my own men’s ice hockey bronze medal game free pick.