Most Ottawa Senators fans will be in the unusual position of cheering against Erik Karlsson on Sunday morning when Team Canada faced off against Team Sweden for the Gold Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Karlsson, who is probably the biggest reason the Swedes are in the Gold Medal game, will not have faced a team in this tournament that can forecheck like Team Canada showed they could in the semi-final game against the USA. The former Norris trophy winner is tied with Phil Kessel for the tournament lead in scoring, and has double the points of any other Swede except Daniel Sedin.
Karlsson is a slick skater, but no matter who faces him from Canada’s point of view, he will be a key man to stop and will be paid extra attention. Judging from the performance Sweden put forth against the Finns in their semi-final (a game which both teams played not to lose rather than playing to win), they might not be able to handle the constant pressure and speed of the Canadian attack.
Still, at least Karlsson will be able to bring home a medal from the Olympics, it just won’t be the color he was hoping for barring a complete 180 in the Swedish style of play. He should also come home with the best defenseman honors (although Drew Doughty and Shea Weber might have something to say about that), and that would be a good step in my blueprint for his attempt to recapture the Norris Trophy this season.