Jun 8, 2010, 5:00 PM EDT
One of the mini-stories of the playoffs, Olympics and recent seasons in general is the odd rise of the Finnish goalie. In the last decade or so, the league’s been treated to the play of Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff and most recently Boston’s Tuukka Rask and potential Stanley Cup champion in Chicago’s Antti Niemi.
Still, while the nation produces some great goalies and the occasional Koivu here and Selanne there, it’s a rare opportunity for the country to have a guaranteed Stanley Cup winner. The 2010 Stanley Cup finals mark the fifth all-time occasion in which a team with a Finn squared off against another team featuring a Finn. In this case, it’s Chicago’s Antti Niemi vs. Philadelphia’s Ville Leino and Kimmo Timonen.
So, even though most of the games start in that country at the ungodly hour of 3 a.m., Risto Pakarinen of NHL.com shares the story of a few fans who are willing to go into work with some dark circles under their eyes to watch their countrymen go toe-to-toe for the Cup. Take the story of Aki Mäki-Kuhna of Helsinki.
All Cup Final games start at 3 a.m. in Finland, probably the worst possible time for the working man. But of course, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“I do time-shifting, so I record the game, and get up at, say, 4:30, then watch the first two periods, fast forwarding past the commercial breaks and the intermissions, and then watch the last period live,” Mäki-Kuhna said.
“It’s not like I get up in the middle of the night to watch every game during the regular season, but I try to catch the most interesting games, with the Finns. Or, Detroit. And Selänne. The Final is obviously great, with Finns on both teams,” said Mäki-Kuhna, who mentioned that his brother has seen more than 100 NHL games this season.
The list of Finnish Cup winners is pretty small yet difficult to spell: Valtteri Filppula, Jari Kurri, Jere Lehtinen, Ville Nieminen, Reijo Ruotsalainen, Teemu Selanne and Esa Tikkanen. Here’s a rundown of the five times Finns played against other Finns in the Cup finals, from that same NHL.com story.
1985: Edmonton Oilers (Jari Kurri, Esa Tikkanen) defeated Philadelphia Flyers (Ilkka Sinisalo)
1987: Edmonton Oilers (Kurri, Tikkanen, Reijo Ruotsalainen) defeated Philadelphia Flyers (Sinisalo)
1994: New York Rangers (Tikkanen) defeated Vancouver Canucks (Jyrki Lumme)
2008: Detroit Red Wings (Valtteri Filppula) defeated Pittsburgh Penguins (Jarkko Ruutu)
2010: Chicago Blackhawks (Antti Niemi) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (Ville Leino, Kimmo Timonen)
- Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money’ 7
- Update: Wild’s Harding out indefinitely with fractured foot 19
- Johansen heads home from Columbus as talks get even messier 17
- Kesler accuses Vancouver media of making up stories, ‘throwing people under the bus’ 22
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal 50
- Mike Yeo is pretty unhappy with Minnesota’s goalie situation 22
- Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center 15
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 61
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 15
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 11
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (61)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (50)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)