Team Finland capsule
Sun Media

Sun Prediction: 6th

What, me worry?

That's the attitude of Team Finland as they prepare to open the Olympic Games without goaltenders Mikka Kiprusoff and Kari Lehtonen on the roster because they both begged out with nagging injuries.

While Kiprusoff led the Calgary Flames to the Stanley Cup final in 2004 and Lehtonen is considered one of the young up-and-comers in the NHL, Finnish players remain confident.

Instead, it will be up to Philadelphia's Antero Nittymaki and Boston's Hannu Toivonen (if he's healthy enough) to carry the hopes and dreams for Team Finland this time around.

"I was a little disappointed that (Kiprusoff) is not coming because he's playing every night (for Calgary) and he's playing pretty well," Anaheim winger Teemu Selanne said. "That's going to be a big loss for us.

"But, we've got other goalies in the league like Nittymaki and Toivonen who we feel can fill the void for us. We feel like they should be able to step up and get the job done for us over there. I hope these guys can step up."

Finland is always a mystery going into international competitions. Looking at their roster and they have plenty of talent. Jere Lehtinen, Olli Jokinen, Joni Pitkanen, Sami Salo, Saku Koivu and Selanne are among the most respected players in the NHL. But, you can't find one person who is going to pick them to win gold or even medal.

But they have been a factor in the past.

"We like playing the role of underdog. I believe we're in a good situation going into these Games because nobody is expecting anything from us," Selanne said. "We're going to have no pressure on us whatsoever. We showed at the World Cup (in 2004) when we made it to the final that anything can happen if we're as good as we can be. We feel pretty good about the whole thing and we believe that it's going to be a good competition for us."

That being said, they need their big players to step up because the talent does get thin and Selanne is willing to concede the Finns don't match up to Team Canada when you look at it on paper.

"Look, Canada is always going to be No. 1 because they have so much depth on their team," Selanne said. "I just don't think the gap between the No. 1 team and the No. 6 team is very big. Anybody can beat anybody on any given day. You need a hot goalie. That's why I think this tournament is going to be interesting. We are going to see some surprises again. It comes down to who has the hottest team in two weeks."

Selanne likely will play with Saku Koivu and Jere Lehtinen.

"We all bring different things to the table," Selanne said. "We know that we've got to be the leaders and we've played together in the past so we know what we have to do."