Posts tagged “Sweden”

Sweden beats Finland 3-2, takes gold

It wasn’t quite the grudge match I was expecting but today’s gold medal game between Finland and Sweden was worth getting up at 8:00 AM on a Sunday morning for. Both teams played tight defensive games, especially in the first, which didn’t make it exceptionally exciting for long stretches but there were bursts of offense that came frequently enough.

The three Red Wing forwards played together for most of the game and were pretty effective. After the Finns took the 1-0 lead late in the first, the Swedes came back with a power play goal early in the second, scored by Henrik Zetterberg off a defenseman’s leg in the crease.

Less than 10 minutes later, Niklas Kronwall, again making good use of his short time in Torino, scored a nice power play goal himself from the high slot, giving his country a 2-1 lead.

The Finns didn’t take long to respond and soon it was tied again, 2-2. It stayed that way for the rest of the second period, which ended with both teams skating four aside. The third period began with Mats Sundin winning the faceoff at center and breaking Saku Koivu’s (I believe) stick in the process. This meant the Finns were down a player on the ensuing rush and it gave Nick Lidstrom a clear shooting lane to work with. He took full advantage and put the Swedes ahead permanently just 10 seconds into the period.

The Finns put up a strong effort to tie the game up toward the end but Henrik Lundqvist was strong and so was his defense. Sweden got its second gold medal in Olympic competition and five of our Wings will be returning to Detroit with that weird doughnut medal they hand out in Torino.

Or will they? Apparently, Nik Kronwall feels obligated to offer his gold medal to Mattias Ohlund, who’s rib injury caused Kronwall to be injected into the lineup, if the latter doesn’t get a medal:

“I think he deserved it more than I have. I came in and played two games. If we don’t end up getting another medal, I’m offering a medal.”

Yeah, Nik, you came in and played two games. You also played well and contributed in a very real way to your team’s victory. You earned it.

Congratulations, Nick, Tomas, Henrik, Mikael, and Nik! Get some rest, guys, and let’s repeat 2002 (and 1998), okay?

Our boys go for gold: Sweden advances to Olympic final

Swedish Wings combine for 5 points (1 G, 4A) in 7-3 win over Czechs in semi-final game.

Link

Update (8:39 PM): They’ll play their Scandinavian enemies the Finns, who beat the Russians today, in the gold medal game on Sunday. That is not the matchup I was hoping for. I don’t like the idea of our Swedish Wings getting involved in that particular grudge match, especially since both teams will try to do whatever it takes to win. The emotions will be even higher given what’s on the line.

Update (11:40 PM): Niklas Kronwall notched an assist in his first-ever Olympic game today against the Czechs and did it using one of Niclas Havelid’s sticks. According to Helene St. James, Nik’s equipment still hasn’t made it to Torino.

Ohlund out, Kronwall in

Ohlund will miss the rest of the Olympics (and beyond) with a rib injury, TSN says. The Swedish head coach, Ben Gustafsson, says he’ll put Kronwall in and pair him with Lidstrom. The Swedes play the Czechs in the semifinals tomorrow at 10:30 AM on MSNBC here in the US and CBC in Canada.

Update (6:38 PM): Helene St. James has more here:

Swedish coach Ben Gustafsson had Kronwall practicing with Lidstrom on Thursday, and afterward explained he liked the two together because one would have to be a raving lunatic not to. Or, as he actually explained it: It’s a good pairing because both are very good at reading plays and knowing when it’s time to jump up and join the rush.

Unsurprisingly, Lidstrom agreed. “Yes.” he said.

Lidstrom elaborated: “I think we’re similar in that aspect, that we both can jump up in the play at different times, we just have to read off one another so we both don’t go up there at the same time.” Lidstrom also allayed any thoughts that it would be hard for a player to jump right into an Olympic semifinal by pointing out that Kronwall did quite all right in his first game back with Detroit on Feb. 1, when he had a big hit on his first shift and two assists.

St. James also reports Nik has had trouble getting his equipment to Torino (mirroring the experience of his fellow Swedish Wings last week). He’s confident it’ll get there in time, though.

What a turnaround, eh? One day he’s watching the Games on TV, the next, he’s on a plane to Torino and not long after that, he’s practicing for the semifinal game against the Czechs. He deserves the chance at gold, after the year he’s had coming back from the knee injury. Good luck, Nik!

Also, head over to Abel to Yzerman, where IwoCPO’s got some comments on the Wings’ goaltending future and has posted what I’ll call the Quote of the Day, from our very own Pavel Datsyuk.

Kronwall headed to Torino

Kukla: ” Kronwall will be part of the taxi squad and will be able to practice with the team, which will probably be good for him.” (via. A2Y)

Update (2:15 PM): More from the Freep:

Wings general manager Ken Holland confirmed Monday that Kronwall was to head to Torino that night, expected to arrive Tuesday morning. Sweden plays Slovakia at 8 p.m. Torino time.

Kronwall is coming over to join the Swedish taxi squad but might play because Niclas Havelid has suffered a knee injury.

It’ll be great for Nik to get some playing time, if he can, but it’s a big risk to take. The Wings can’t afford to have him get injured again.

However, as the Freep points out, Sweden only has four more games, at best: “The quarterfinals are Wednesday, semifinals Friday and the medal games Saturday and Sunday.” So, he’ll be able to work on getting into better game-shape but because he’s missed so much of the tournament already, there’s less a chance for re-injury while playing the less physical Olympic style.

Update (5:59 PM): Helene St. James has emmended her article on this. The relevant part now reads,

Kronwall is coming over to join the taxi squad, but might play because there is some question as to the status of Niclas Havelid, who has tweaked a knee. Swedish coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson said that Havelid would play Tuesday, but that Kronwall was the first defenseman substitute.

“Niklas is going to come down here and be ready if we have some injuries,” Gustafsson said. “He was the best defenseman at the World Championships last year; he came in and played really well for us. He has a lot of skill. Unfortunately he got hurt earlier this season, and he had a tough time, but he worked so hard to try to make this team. Now he is catching up. We hope that if we have any injuries, he is here and can help us.”

IwoCPO over at Abel to Yzerman points out that the Swedes are likely to find a way to get Kronwall on the ice. They’ve lost in the quarterfinals in the last two Olympics and will want the best players available to ensure it doesn’t happen again, even if it means screwing over the Detroit Red Wings. Iwo puts it this way:

“Kronwall’s recovery, if necessary, after the Olympics is of zero concern to Gustafsson, the Swedish hockey program or the country itself. In fact the only Swedes who are concerned at all about Kronwall’s ability to play out the NHL season are the four Red Wings who will be playing with him the rest of this tournament.”

I imagine Holland isn’t all that happy about this but Kronwall obviously got the call and he can’t exactly ignore his country, can he?

Maybe it’s time to start cheering for an early Swedish elimination. Slovakia/Finland final, anyone?

Red Wings to be well-represented at Olympics

Today, the Czech and Swedish national teams named their Olympic rosters, adding five more Detroit players to the list of athletes going to Turin to play hockey this coming February.

Sweden

Four of the Wings’ seven Swedes will represent Sweden:

Nicklas Lidstrom
Henrik Zetterberg
Mikael Samuelsson
Niklas Kronwall

Red Wing goalie prospect Stefan Liv was also named to the roster.

Sweden’s coach, Bengt-Ake Gustafsson, included Kronwall, who will be a first-time Olympian, despite his ongoing recovery from a torn ACL. The CP quotes him saying,

“He’s been on ice and is back in training. The question is if he’ll be ready for the Olympics. We have done this to avoid eliminating another player from the squad if Kronwall can play. If he can’t play we’ll pick another player.”

Kronwall told the Free Press that,

“It’s still too early to say. Hopefully in a couple of weeks It’ll be able to practice with the team. I don’t want to risk anything. The Olympics would be awesome, but I have to listen to the trainers.”

Lidstrom and Zetterberg have both played in the Olympics before. Lidstrom has participated three times and Zetterberg made his Olympic debut as one of two non-NHL players on the Swedish squad in 2002, the year before he came to Detroit.

It will be the first time Samuelsson, whose strong performance for the Wings this season got him notice from his country, will go to the Games.

Despite his value on the power play, Tomas Holmstrom will not have a chance to represent his country. The Free Press credits this to his skating skills, which are somewhat lacking. With the extra ice in international competition, Homer wouldn’t be as effective.

Czech Republic

Robert Lang was named to the Czech roster today, the only Wing to be so honored (not surprising given he is the only active Czech player on the roster), though former-Red Wing Dominik Hasek will be one of the Czech goalies. It will be his fourth Olympic Games. He already has a bronze (1992) and a gold (1998) medal, though he wasn’t so lucky at the 2002 Olympics.

Jiri Fischer surely would have been named to the roster as well were it not for his current heart condition.

Canada

Team Canada announced its roster yesterday but only included one Red Wing: Kris Draper, despite his poor season offensively. It’s surprising that they did not pick Draper’s partner in crime, Kirk Maltby, to go as well but it is easy to see that the Canadians are going more for skill than anything else and Maltby would have just been taking up a slot that could have been given to a shooter.

That said, it is also surprising that Brendan Shanahan did not make it. He is on pace to have a great year offensively and has been white hot lately. He would have brought some good leadership to the table and still has a great shot. He’ll have to settle for his gold in 2002, apparently.

His wife must be happy. Shanny had joked about her expecting to go somewhere warm during the NHL’s Olympic Break.

USA

The first Red Wing players named to any Olympic roster were Chris Chelios and Mathieu Schneider, who will once again represent the United States.

Chelios will play in his fifth Olympics and will be captain for the third time.

Schneider played in Nagano, back in 1998 and was a lock for a spot this time around.

One-time Red Wing Derian Hatcher will also patrol the blueline for the US.

Russia

They haven’t released their roster yet but it is certain that Pavel Datsyuk will be named to Team Russia.

On one hand, it’s great that so many Wings will be able to represent their countries in the Olympics but I’m a little worried about the extra work their bodies will be getting heading into an important stretch of the NHL season. Beyond even the ususal wear and tear that accompanies playing high-level hockey, there is the increased chance for real injury.

All of these men were named to their respective nation’s rosters for a reason: they’re very good players. They are also very important to the Wings and they can ill afford to lose any of them in the last leg of the season.

It didn’t seem to hurt in 2002 but that’s not too reassuring.

The upside to this is that we’ll get to watch some very high-quality hockey and know that nine, probably ten, of our guys are a part of it.

Update (23. Dec): The Russians have released their roster and it looks like youth will be the order of the day. The team will have 11 first-time Olympians, including Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin.

As expected, Pavel Datyuk was named to the team. Former-Red Wing Dmitri Bykov was as well and will be one of four non-NHLers on the squad.