Finland scrambles to fill hockey spots of two injured NHLers

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Finland’s hopes of winning a men’s hockey medal at the Sochi Olympic seemingly took a hit when it was announced Friday injuries would keep both Valtteri Filppula and Mikko Koivu off the ice.

Filppula, the Tampa Bay Lightning forward suffered a non-displaced fracture in his ankle on Thursday night. Minnesota Wild captain Koivu had ankle surgery on Jan. 6. and still hasn’t been cleared to play. He’d wanted to suit up for Finland, but he has only recently returned to skating.

Still, Finland’s filling those roles with solid players. From Joe Yerdon at ProHockeyTalk:

Juha Hiitela of Finnish outlet Urheilusanomat reports they’ll be replaced by forwards Jarkko Immonen and Sakari Salminen, both currently playing for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the KHL.

Salminen is the sixth leading scorer in the KHL with 18 goals and 46 points. Immonen is a former New York Rangers prospect and 18th in the league in points with 36. If you’re not going to have two of the better players in the world in Koivu and Filppula, replacing them with guys playing on the same team makes for a smart move this close to the Olympics.

The preliminary rounds for the men’s hockey tournament begin on Wednesday.