In 2011, Finland demolished the Danes, taking them down 5-1 and outshooting by a vast 44 to 9 margin. The year before, the Danes upset the Finns 4 to 1 with an all-star goalie battle between Pekka Rinne and Frederik Andersen. However, it wasn’t much of a goalie battle, as Andersen saved 36 of 37 Finnish chances, while Rinne only stopped 13 of Denmark’s 16 shots on net. Coming in to their 2015 matchup, Denmark was hoping to embarrass Pekka Rinne as they did in 2010.
However, Finland played for more than 3 points today; they played in memory of a 17-year-old Finnish boy who was killed when he was hit by a train on Friday after Finland’s game against the United States. Finnish fans in attendance celebrated the life of the boy by occasionally standing up in unison throughout the game. Motivated by this story, the Finnish team responded against Denmark, beating them 3-0 in their first game against the Danes since 2011.
Much like in 2011, Finland absolutely dominated Denmark on both sides of the ice, offensive and defensive. On offense, Finland victimized a puck-obsessed Danish defensive system, parking two forwards in the slot on most plays, covered by only one Danish defenseman. This led to fortunate tips by the top line on two of Finland’s goals.
First, Jussi Jokinen’s puck tip bounced off Danish defender Emil Kristensen’s glove and past goaltender Sebastian Dahm. Shortly after Finland’s 2nd goal, Florida Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov made a brilliant tip of the puck over Dahm’s shoulder. The heavy saturation of Finnish forwards in the Danish slot made it easy for the Finns to get 2 or 3 shots out of every rebound in the Danish zone, leading to possession dominance.
On the other side of the ice, Finland utilized what might literally be called a ‘blue line’ to stifle the Danish attack. As the Danes attempted to break through the zone, the Finns kept control of their own zone by lining up near their own blue line, which forced an ineffective dump and chase tactic out of Denmark’s offense. The Finnish defense then utilized their superior speed to break up the play and create odd-man breakouts for Finland’s top lines.
In the third period, Denmark’s top line of Fredrik Storm, Jesper Jensen, and Patrick Bjorkstrand found some holes in the Finnish defense, but none of the trio were able to put the Danes on the board. While most teams are required by necessity to change their defensive tactic sometime during the game, the Finland’s five-long neutral zone defense stopped the Danes in their tracks throughout the whole 60 minutes of play.
Moving on in the tournament, the Finns now hold a 1-0-0-1 record, giving them 3 points today after their loss to the United States. On the reverse, Denmark has only 1 point in the Group B standings, earned in a shootout loss to Slovakia in their first game of 2015.
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