If you want to know how strong Finnish goaltending is. Just ask anyone in the Nortwest Division of the NHL. Whether you are the Oilers, Canucks or Avalanche you see it almost every time you play one of the other two division rivals. In Minnesota there is Niklas Backstrom. In Calgary there is Miikka Kiprusoff.
The man affectionally known as "Kipper" to his fans will be relied on heavily by Finland at the 2010 Olympics to carry them to the podium. He put the pressure on himself by stating he wont go if he cant be the starter. So he has put the pressure squarely on his back. Luckily for Finnish fans, hes been under major pressure before and done quite well.
If Kipper struggles, Niklas Backstrom will jump in & the Finns will be just as confident in his play. He didnt make a big spectacle about wanting to be starter, he just took whatever was given to him. If its the back up spot, he'll do it. If he is called upon to be the starter, he'll do that too. Much like how he has handled goaltending controversies with his club team, the Minnesota Wild, where he has been the back up and the starter.
Finland certainly has strong goaltending with Kiprusoff & Backstrom at the helm. But they lack scoring depth. Sure they have NHL capable scorers, just not a lot of them & not overly lethal ones. So goaltending will need to be strong. Luckily for them, it is.
Kiprusoff has a Vezina trophy in his trophy case. With 3 silver medals in international play (2 World Championships & 1 World Cup) he is hungry to add a Gold to that total. Something his counterpart Backstrom sports, albeit at the World Junior level. Something else Backstrom has that Kiprusoff does not, an Olympic medal. A silver in 2006. Niklas also sports a Jennings trophy for top goals against average in the NHL by a team. He is a Vezina trophy runner up. Both goalies have something to prove. Whether its Niklas trying to prove he is really better than Kipper, or Miikka proving he desrves to be the #1.
Finland isnt going in with a lot of people picking them as medalists because of their scoring. But with goalies like Miikka Kiprusoff & Niklas Backstrom, you could theoretically only need to score 1 to win. A medal is not unrealistic for them, a gold is even possible if either of these two is in the zone.
With Joe Sakic officially retired, Jarome has become "the man" the offense looks to for leadership. Once seen as the up & coming potential leader for Canada, Jarome now IS that leader. As a captain on his club team, the Calgary Flames, Jarome has taken his team to a Stanley Cup final. He has won 2 Richard Trophies for top goal scorer in the league. 1 Art Ross for points leader, and 1 Pearson for league MVP as voted on by players.
On the international scene he has just as impressive of a resume as ayone. He has a gold at every level. World Junior champion, World Cup champion, World Championships champion, Olympic Champion. There is nothing he hasnt accomplished for his country yet. Add to that 2 Memorial Cup trophies with the Kamloops Blazers and its clear he has done it all at practically every level.
A 2 time 50 goal scorer in the NHL, Jarome will be heavily relied upon to score goals in Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics. His tough, go to the net style makes him good for popping in opportunistic rebounds, and he can carry the puck just as well too.
Team Canada might have a captain in Scott Niedermayer who has done it all, but he will probably share the leadership role with Jarome Iginla. Someone that on the international ice, has done it all as well.
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