Sweden enters the tournament as the smallest team with an average height of 180cm and weighing around 195lbs – which can only be considered small in ice hockey. It’s unlikely to make a huge difference, but it’s still worth making a note of.
In Sochi, Sweden left with a silver medal – a huge achievement for the most part – but it was filled with many ‘what if’ questions. Henrik Sedin was unable to play due to injury, Zetterberg also withdrew after one game due to injury, and Nicklas Backstrom was ineligible to play due to a doping scandal that proved to be false. The team got to the gold medal game without three of their strongest players, but what if they had been healthy?
The youngsters of the team are in good company, their mentors for this tournament are riddled with years of NHL and international experience. Lundqvist is naturally in goal having helped the team to Olympic gold in 2006, alongside Zetterberg, Kronwall, and the Sedin twins who also feature in this tournament. Canucks teammate Loui Eriksson has also been selected to play for his country, so their club chemistry will be of benefit to Sweden in this short competition.
Speaking of the youngsters, one player who is sure to bring excitement is Filip Forsberg, or Filip Scoresberg. The Capitals traded him in 2013 and have surely been kicking themselves since. In the 2015 playoffs, he became the youngest player in franchise history to score a playoff goal and also the first playoff hat-trick in history for the Predators. The following season he scored two natural hat-tricks within four days , led the team in scoring for the second year running and tied the franchise record for 33 goals. Not too shabby. Alongside
Forsberg is Gabriel Landeskog, who made history as the youngest NHL captain at 19 years and 286 days for the Colorado Avalanche – and he’s still only 23.
The most recent Stanley Cup winners, Hornqvist and Hagelin have also been named to the roster, so they will be hoping to continue the winning streak. Niklas Hjalmarsson, who also doubles as a brick wall for the Chicago Blackhawks, will no doubt be putting his body in the firing line for his country, as will phenomenally talented Erik Karlsson. Interestingly, Karlsson is the only player to come from the Senators, poor guy carrying the entire franchise on his back… Their defensive players are excellent skaters and good with the puck.
Surprisingly, Klingberg was omitted from the roster. He is a top scorer and is right handed – something this team is lacking – so it would have been good to have on the team, however the depth of this team shows that they should be okay without him.
Finland versus Sweden will provide a very fun game as both teams have gone for skill over brute force, plus the love/hate relationship between these brother countries is always an interesting one.