On Sunday, the Finns and the Swedes play for Olympic gold in men's hockey. And while no one would have predicted that Canada (or the US, for that matter) would be knocked out of the medal round altogether, there is still a Canadian connection to the gold-medal game (let's face it, there always is).
Sweden is captained by Mats Sundin, who also captains the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs. Finland is captained by Saku Koivu, who captains the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. Neither player has won a major tournament, whether it be the Stanley Cup, World Cup or Olympic gold. That will change for one of them on Sunday. Both men are veterans known for their blue-collar work ethic and white-collar scoring touch; both have gone through rough spots due to injury and/or illness (with Koivu beating cancer a few years back); both are very much deserving of a gold medal.
So for Canadian hockey fans, the Finland-Sweden match up essentially boils down to a Montreal-Toronto game, though to make it more realistic, it should be held about 12 hours earlier, on Saturday night rather than early Sunday morning.
As a Montrealer and Habs fan, I'm rooting for Finland. I think a gold medal would do wonders for Koivu's confidence and silence some of his critics, who say he doesn't have what it takes to captain a championship team. I've never believed it, and watching this Finnish team play during the Olympic tournament has only confirmed my feelings that Koivu's not at fault for the Canadien's recent woes. He simply needs a team that is willing to follow his lead; the Habs' current crop of over-paid whiners simply won't.
Go Habs--er... Finns--Go!.