Sunday, December 10, 2023

Lions’ NHL stars Mikko Rantanen and Kapo Kakko talk about World Cup hustle – “there’s a limit”


World Cup’s judging line speaks volumes.


The world of ice hockey is strongly bipolar. There is a European puck scene on the Old Continent and the other side of ice hockey is managed by the NHL.

Rink size is the most tangible difference between European and North American hockey. Then there are differences in style and interpretation.

After a five-year break, Colorado Avalanche superstar Mikko Rantanen is surprised by the line-up of judges at the World Cup in Tampere.

– I’m surprised you can handle so much. Even in yesterday’s game against Sweden, some of the goal posts were tough to handle, Rantanen commented to Sanom after Tuesday afternoon’s practice.

Maybe this is the line. It’s been a long time since I was last in the world championships, so I don’t know what the line was before.

Mikko Rentenen is the most marked man from the Lions' rival corner.

Mikko Rentenen is the most marked man from the Lions’ rival corner. Photo: Heikki Soukoma / Lehtikuva

Kapo Kako, the Lions’ second most famous NHL signing, has noted it as Rantanen. The transition from NHL to World Cup ice has not been seamless.

– In the past, the situations for which the whistle has not been blown have been surprising. It has also become a bit emotional. It felt like nothing was going to be braked, said the startled Kakko, who has amassed one assist point in three World Cup matches.

Rantanen has also struggled with his performances. The most celebrated star of the tournament has collected two assist points in three games.

In Monday evening’s game against Sweden, Rantanen was literally lit up when the whistle didn’t sound in the goal area at the end of the second period. At the end of the set, Rantanen went to the direction of the head referee to interrupt Tullikivi’s response.

– If there is a foul in some goal spot and the hand does not go up, you must go and ask the referee what is wrong. However, I try not to spend too much energy on the judges, Ratanen declared.

For a player like Kako, a referee line that favors hanging and blocking is not suitable at all. The 22-year-old New York Rangers winger is on the puck a lot.

– It’s my own game that I stay on the puck and create situations from the corners. Even in the Sweden match yesterday, I think I was able to hold on to the puck, defend in the corners and make dangerous spins with the puck, but they didn’t create chances.

– I felt that time with the puck was completely wasted, and at the end I was on the roof when I had to hang quite a bit. Some situations should have blown the whistle. You can rip and hang there. I don’t know if the judges had a bit of a bad day or what, Kako said.

Capo Caco has been one of the most cheerful raiders of the Legion, but the effects are missing.

Capo Caco has been one of the most cheerful attackers of the Legion, but has lacked impact. Photo: Seppo Karki / IS

In the NHL, tying and hanging have been dealt with heavily in recent years, which cleaned up the blocking play that had gone wild.

For players who are used to the NHL line, the World Cup line still has something to chew on.

-If you get rid of the pack in a bigger rink, it’s a huge advantage if the pack can hang on to the shirt later and come back “on the right”. After that, it goes back to the corners to fight, Kakko said.

– We’ll see if the line changes. I think the line should be changed a bit. You can play hard, but there is a limit somewhere.

Above all, Rantenen calls for equality.

You can handle tough things. Hopefully it will be allowed in both directions so that we can also give in the same amount. Yes, the judges are also trying their best.

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