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2010 Winter Olympic Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Game Open Thread

No one walks into an Olympic tourney saying "Yeah baby, we're gonna' take Bronze!," however, a medal is a medal, and you can bet neither Finland or Slovakia will take this chance for granted.  No Devils in this one, so a chance to watch on completely unbiased terms, unless you're Finnish or Slovakian.

Please use this post to place all your comments about the game (and just this game, not any other events).  

February 27, 2010 - Men's Ice Hockey Bronze Medal Match

10:00 PM EST/7:00 PM PST - Slovakia vs. Finland (MSNBC)

Want to watch the games online and legally? For the Americans, NBC has streaming options. For the Canadians, CTV has streams.  Thanks to user C.J.Richey121 for the NBC information and to user dchoubak about CTV.   Read on for some Real Talk for each of the four teams going into this event.

Editor's note: I've included some commentary for both teams about the game. Enjoy!

Slovakia has never done this well at the Olympics.  Never have they competed for any kind of medal, and here they are, competing for the bronze just after giving Canadians coast-to-coast a big third period scare last night.  Alas, the miracle comeback was not to be, and lost in the semifinal 3-2. 

The Slovaks have a chance to come away from Vancouver with something, but it's important that they realize two things: One, they need to find some energy after that big semifinal game against Canada.  Big games can be a big drain without the success.  They'll have to be motivated tonight, especially if Marian Gaborik is out.   Two, they need to open up their style of play.  How did Slovakia get their third period comeback attempt going?  Just by taking the puck to the net, taking some risks on offense, and just shooting the puck.  For much of the Canada game, Slovakia made a lot of safe plays but still were pinned in their own end and not challenging Roberto Luongo at all. Just simple shots were rare.  When they got the puck in deep and just started firing away, they found much more success (and, thanks to Roberto Luongo for giving up a soft one to start it all off).  Slovakian fans should hope that last night's last 9 minutes will inspire the team to be more aggressive tonight.

Finland, on the other hand, will be looking to come away from Vancouver with something.  Truth be told, a bronze medal shouldn't be seen as a bad result.  Historically, Finland has only medalled four times at the Olympics: two silvers (1988, 2006) and two bronzes (1994, 1998).  A third bronze medal for the national team wouldn't be so shabby despite their horrible semifinal loss.  They can at least say they finished ahead of Sweden.

The United States just stomped all over Finland last night, 6-1, just demoralizing the team for much of the game. So the big key for Finland is how they will start the game.  They didn't take any initiative in the US game until it was out of doubt, rarely took it in the quarter finals against the Czech Republic, and they didn't show any against Sweden.  In their last three games, they scored two non-empty net goals: both off deflections of sorts; Niklas Hagman got one against the Czechs, and Antti Mittinen had his shot bounce off Jack Johnson to beat Tim Thomas.  They need more traffic.  On paper, they have the talent to hang with anyone, but on the ice, their defense looks tentative, their offense has been non-threatening, the discipline is lacking, and the gameplan appears to be hoping the goalie has a great night for anything to work.   The Finns need to sharpen up and the first step to do that is to dictate the pace right away.  If they can do that, then they have something they can build on and take it to the Slovaks.