Olympic Hockey Preview: Sweden vs Latvia


One team with an outside hope at a medal will go a long way to securing a top half qualifying matchup while an upstart team in its debut Olympic tournament will look to make some waves after an impressive debut against a powerhouse.


Saturday Feb 15th, 12:00 noon EST

TV:  Rogers Sportsnet

Here is how the teams match up:

GOALTENDING:  With Sweden assured of first place in the group already, this could mean Henrik Lundqvist gets a night off in the back to back situation.  This means it could be Jonas Gustavsson and Jhonas Enroth as the duo between the pipes.  Latvia has gone with Edgars Masalskis in both of their games, and are likely to throw him back out there again.


PHOTO CREDIT: USA Today Sports Images

DEFENSE:  Erik Karlsson has had a field day on the big ice in this tournament so far, with two goals and an assist on Sweden’s 5 goals so far.  New captain Niklas Kronwall provides the leadership and all around play that Sweden needs in its top 4.  In a case of the rich getting richer, this game will mark the return of Alexander Edler, who was suspended for the first two games of the Olympics after his kneeing incident with Canada’s Eric Staal at the 2013 World Championships.  Latvia captain Sandis Ozolinsh is still motoring, and the Latvian captain played over 21 minutes against the Czechs, even at age 43.


FORWARDSZemgus Girgensons is the lone current NHL player on the Latvian roster, joined by former Senator Kaspars Daugavins.  Sweden was dealt a blow with the confirmation that captain Henrik Zetterberg would miss the rest of the tournament and longer with a herniated disk.  That being said their are still loaded with talent and should overwhelm the Latvian defense.


PHOTO CREDIT: USA Today Sports Images

It is going to come down to goal differential for the 1-3 placing for the quarterfinal, and with just a +3 so far, Sweden is trailing the other division leaders.  Look for them to keep the throttle on in order to try to help their seeding in their next round.

PREDICTION:  Sweden hasn’t been dominant, but are doing enough to win.  Sweden 4-1.