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Team Finland to feature familiar top line

Aleksander Barkov, Patrik Laine, Jussi Jokinen meshed well at World Championship

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / Director of Editorial

HELSINKI, Finland -- Team Finland showed what likely will be its initial lines for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 during its first practice at Hartwall Arena on Monday.

As expected, the first line will be the same as it was when Finland won the silver medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, with Aleksander Barkov centering Patrik Laine and Jussi Jokinen.

Laine tied for the tournament lead with seven goals and was named most valuable player. Barkov had nine points in nine games and Jokinen had 10 points in 10 games. 

The second line was captain Mikko Koivu centering Mikael Granlund and Joonas Donskoi. Teuvo Teravainen, Valtteri Filppula and Jori Lehtera combined to form the third line, and Erik Haula, Lauri Korpikoski and Leo Komarov were the fourth line. Sebastian Aho was the extra forward.

On defense, it was Olli Maatta and Rasmus Ristolainen as the top pairing, followed by Sami Vatanen and Jyrki Jokipakka, and Esa Lindell and Ville Pokka. Sami Lepisto rotated in as the extra defenseman.

"The coaching staff and [management] kind of jotted a few things down on what the lines could be last night when we got together and we put those lines on the paper on the wall, and thought actually that looks pretty good," Team Finland general manager Jere Lehtinen said. "Of course we have to see how it works on the ice, but you can see that there are guys that play together, like pairs, and that helps. There's good chemistry on all four lines and that is exciting."

READY TO GO: Teravainen could not wait for Team Finland practice to start Monday. For him, the summer was way too long and he welcomed the opportunity to be playing hockey again and focus on a new set of goals.

Teravainen, playing for the Chicago Blackhawks last season, was eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the first round one year after winning the Stanley Cup. He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 15.

"It's pretty nice to get back with the team and start a new season," Teravainen said. "It's been a long summer. Everybody wants to get back to the hockey thing and we have a game on Thursday, so I think everybody is excited."

Finland plays Team Sweden in a pretournament game at Hartwall Arena on Thursday (Noon ET; ESPN3, SN, TVA Sports).

Teravainen also is looking forward to his first training camp with the Hurricanes.

"I feel Carolina will be a good fit for me," he said. "It's a young team, and I think I am going to fit in well there. I'm excited to go there.

"I like new starts. I think I have more to give and that I can be a better player. I think I have a good chance to show myself. At the same time, I learned so much from Chicago. A lot of great guys and a great team, so you get a lot of experience. I can bring all that to a new team and be even better."

HEAD START: It's never easy as a goaltender to face the best players your country has to offer day after day for the better part of three weeks, but Tuukka Rask is grateful for the opportunity as he believes it will better prepare him to be a better goalie for the Boston Bruins when the NHL season starts.

"You get to play with the best players in your country and then against the best players in the world," said Rask, who is battling Pekka Rinne for the No. 1 spot. "It's a very different situation from the preseason games and I am sure you will be in midseason form by the time the season starts. I hope it is an advantage. That's what we are trying to make it."

HE SAID IT: Laine, selected by the Winnipeg Jets with the No. 2 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, was the most valuable player of the 2016 World Championship. That followed his helping Finland win the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he tied for the tournament lead in goals and made the WJC all-star team.

He said the recent success enjoyed by the younger players on Team Finland's roster can be a positive heading into the World Cup. Mentally, Finland should be on equal footing now with more traditional powers like Team Canada and Team Sweden.

"I think our country now knows that we are good at hockey and our generation of young guys may be the best in the whole world and now we can expect to get medals in these tournaments," Laine, 18, said. "We have good coaches at the junior level and they are generating these rising stars."

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