Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/20/10 at 12:25 PM ET
from Risto Pakarinen at NHL.com,
Finland wants Sweden’s scalp. No kidding.
Sunday will be a day of rivalry without, well, a rival when all of the big hockey nations meet each other. Czechs and Russians, Canada and USA—and then Sweden versus Finland. For a few million people 4,700 miles east of the Winter Games venue, the last one may be the biggest of the tournament….
The Finns really, really don’t want to lose to Sweden. Especially not in hockey.
Here’s an example: During the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, a leading Finnish newspaper reported every day how Sweden still hadn’t won a gold. That was the whole story. “Sweden hasn’t won a gold medal”. And what a great story it was.
“No. Absolutely not, you never want to lose to the Swedes, in anything. It’s like the Old Firm in Scottish soccer, between the Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic,” says Niki Juusela, play-by-play announcer for Finnish YLE.
The Swedes can stick it to the Finns, too, although for them, it doesn’t seem to be as important, no matter what Nicklas Bäckstrom—“It’s a pretty big game, a little more emotion in it than in a regular game”—or Nicklas Lidström—“The rivalry is not just in hockey, it’s about all sports. It’s a fun game to be a part of, and surely it’ll be a great battle”—would have you believe.
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