The game that Canadians have been waiting for for 4 years finally takes place Sunday morning when Canada aims to become the first country in the NHL era to repeat as Olympic Gold Medalists. This is a battle of the last two Olympic Champions, Canada in 2010 and Sweden in 2006.
CANADA vs SWEDEN
Sunday Feb 23rd, 7:00 AM
Here are the projected lineups for the game:
|PP||2/9 (22.2%)||7/19 (36.8%)|
|PK||13/14 (92.9%)||17/19 (89.5%)|
Here is how the teams match up:
GOALTENDING: Carey Price has allowed just 3 goals in his 4 starts, and none of them can be considered bad goals. Henrik Lundqvist is getting more of the publicity as the guy to beat, but he gave up a weak goal in the semi-final against Finland. Each has allowed just 1 goal in the playoff rounds.
DEFENSE: Both of these units are deep and talented. The return of Alex Edler after he served the two games of his suspension from last year’s World Championships has bouyed the defense of Sweden and has sent talented Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the bench. Erik Karlsson leads the way offensively and with a point will most likely finish as the tournament’s leading scorer (currently tied with Phil Kessel and two points ahead of Drew Doughty). Canada is solid in both ends of the ice, as Doughty and Weber are Canada’s leading scorers. They are also allowing the fewest shots per game in the event.
FORWARDS: In the semi-finals these teams played very opposite systems. Once Sweden got the lead, they sat back and defended, while Canada attacked relentlessly with all 4 lines and kept the puck far away from their own end. The talent on the Canadian squad is unmatched, even without the injured John Tavares. All 4 lines could score at any time. As for Sweden, their depth was hurt by injuries, and they have done a remarkable job overcoming them so far. If Canada can repeat the forechecking performance from the semi-final, there isn’t a team that can handle that no matter how good Lundqvist is.
SPECIAL TEAMS: If Canada can limit the number of power plays they give to the vaunted Swedish attack, they will be far better off. Karlsson alone has more goals on the man advantage than the entire Canadian team. Sweden has uncharacteristically spent more time in the box than any other team in the Olympics. If they give Canada too many chances with the man advantage they are bound to make them pay sooner or later.
PREDICTION: Canada’s emotional win over the US felt like a gold medal game. That is tough to repeat, but if the Canadians come out and play that solid a game once again there isn’t a team on the planet that can beat them. A key will be to keep the mobile Swedish defensemen in their own zone defending much like they did to the Americans. It could all come down to goaltending and one bad goal or bad bounce could be the difference. All things being equal, Canada is deeper and should come away with the gold and the repeat championship.