Finland's chance for success during the World Cup of Hockey in September in Toronto will be based on its goaltending. However, Finland will need major contributions from more than the masked men if it wants to win. Many of the nation's offensive threats began this NHL season on a strong note, but some of those players haven't maintained consistency. The excitement surrounding the country's recent gold medal at the World Junior Championship in Helsinki has been a major boost for Finnish hockey, but the World Cup roster looks to remain relatively the same as when we last projected it in December:
Filppula, 31, hasn't produced for the Tampa Bay Lightning as he did a season ago. He has only seven goals and 20 assists in 55 games. The Minnesota Wild's Granlund has dipped a bit, too. The 23-year-old forward has five goals and 24 assists in 56 games. Teravainen has struggled of late for the Chicago Blackhawks. The 21-year-old forward recently snapped a 10-game pointless skid. Before scoring during Monday's 7-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, his previous goal came on Jan. 6 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. His last assist was on Jan. 19 against the Nashville Predators.
Barkov, the Florida Panthers top-line center, is on injured reserve with a concussion. Before the injury, he was having another solid season, with 16 goals and 19 assists in 43 games. Kemppainen began the season strong with the Boston Bruins, but he has been inconsistent and less productive than anticipated. He also spent time in the AHL. Jokinen has only 11 goals and 27 assists for 38 points in 57 games for the Panthers. The Wild have struggled, but Koivu has been consistent. The Edmonton Oilers' Pakarinen is versatile and considered a specialist on special teams.
The Finns will have solid goaltending, but the defense in front of the net will be a challenge for Finland. Ristolainen, 21, has played well for the Buffalo Sabres as the top blue-liner while being counted on in every aspect of the game. He has eight goals and 25 assists in 57 games. He has proven time and again to be a game-changer and should be a major weapon at both ends of the ice for Finland. Maatta, 21, is a plus-20 for the Penguins this season, along with six goals and nine assists. Lindbohm and Lindell have spent the majority of this season in the AHL in the Chicago and Dallas organizations, respectively. Hietanen, 30, has never played in the NHL and currently plays for Dynamo in the KHL. Vatanen, 24, has struggled for the Anaheim Ducks with only seven goals and 20 assists for 27 points in 55 games. Finland will need more offensive production from Vatanen.
After a slow start, Rask has returned to form and is playing better for the Bruins. The 28-year-old is 20-16-5 in 42 games. He was a major reason Finland won the bronze medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Rinne has struggled for the majority of the season for the Predators, but should still serve as Rask's backup at the World Cup. Korpisalo, 21, of the Columbus Blue Jackets, has showcased his talents, and having World Cup experience behind Rask and Rinne will only help the rookie's development.