Sochi 2014: Sweden Olympic Team Review
EDITORíS NOTE: As part of RotoWireís Olympic Preview for the 22nd Winter Olympiad, we have asked six of our hockey writers to review each team in depth to analyze each teamís strengths and weaknesses, and what they think their chances are for winning the Olympic gold. Make sure you check in each day this week for a new team preview.
Following a win in last yearís world championships and a successful World Junior Championships where they lost in the gold medal game to their main rival, Finland, Sweden has selected a super squad of NHLers to represent them in Sochi. Yes, they may have left out Victor Hedman, Marcus Johansson, and other significant North American pros, but thereís enough dynamic offense and solid defense to go around. The focus, however, remains in net, where some unknown named Henrik Lundqvist will be expected to carry the Tre Kronor on his back and lead them to glory.
Centers: 9 / 10
When your first three centers project to be Henrik Sedin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Backstrom, youíre sitting pretty. Throw in the improving Patrik Berglund as a possible fourth and you can arguably boast the best contingent down the middle. (Also: Marcus Kruger, who works as a solid two-way center and face-off man but unfortunately wonít get any time)
Wingers: 8 / 10
As in past events, the old guard is represented (Wings Daniel Alfredsson and Johan Franzen) but the Swedes are mainly represented up front by the under-30 crowd. Whether it is emerging stars such as Alexander Steen or Gabriel Landeskog, a defensive speedster like Carl Hagelin, or a budding prospect in Jakob Silfverberg. Oh, and donít forget about recent concussion returnee Loui Eriksson. (Also: Jimmie Ericsson, brother of Jonathan and the only non-NHL forward selected. This is probably the first and last time youíll hear about him.)
Defense: 7.5 / 10
Erik Karlsson may be the main blueline attraction but Sweden can roll out much more. Thereís the Detroit duo of Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson along with the Chicago couple of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya. Then you balance it all out with attackers Alexander Edler and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. (Also: Henrik Tallinder adds additional defensive prowess and experience, but donít expect to see him on the ice unless others go down.)
Goaltending: 7 / 10
While King Henrik can win games by himself on Broadway, thereís a lot of pressure to try and duplicate this for your country on a regular basis in a high-pressure event. And with NHL backups Jonas Gustavsson and Jhonas Enroth sitting as the other two netminders, thereís not a lot of secondary security between the pipes.