Sunday, December 27, 2009

V2010: Sweden

The Swedes officially announced their Olympic roster today and, surprise, surprise, Henrik Lundqvist will be starting in net. Hank is one of 13 players on the roster who donned silly gold helmets and partied in the streets of Stockholm in 2006 after beating Finland in one heckuva hockey game (that YouTube is creepy with the foreign commentary and Leonard Cohen song).

The New York Times recounts that it was the amazing save by our King that ensured the gold for Sweden and he will be counted on again to play a big role for the Swedes - maybe even a bigger role than last time. Top two-way forwards Mats Sundin, Mikael Samuelsson and P.J. Axelsson are not returning. Neither are slick defensemen Niclas Havelid and Kenny Jonsson. Christian Backman was not selected for another go-around, so at least Hank has that going for him.

In all seriousness, the defensive corps in front of Hank will be much improved if they are all healthy. There will be just one Swedish-based player in that corps, Magnus Johansson - and he had a cup of coffee with Chicago - so these guys will have little trouble with the NHL-sized rink in Vancouver. Even though Nik Lidstrom sounds like he is from Michigan at this point, he is still Swedish and he is still the best defenseman to play hockey since Bobby Orr. Fellow Red Wing Nik Kronwall (KRONWALLED!) is injured but if he isn't at top speed then San Jose's Douglas Murray, he of the UberTap, will handle the physical duties. As loathesome as Johnny Oduya is as a Devil, he will also be a big help for Hank. The Swedes didn't go for youth, leaving Anton Strålman, Victor Hedman and Super Nintendo Hjalmers, Niklas Hjalmarsson, off the roster.

Sammy Pahlsson and Hank Zetterberg will be the two forwards likely to make the King's life easiest in his own zone while Tomas Holmstrom returns to make the opposing goaltenders miserable. Daniel Alfredsson was just injured before Christmas but he should be back in time, as should the never-say-die, my-foot-isn't-that-bad Peter Forsberg. The Mule, Johan Franzen, will not. Patric Hörnqvist has been a revelation for Forsberg's former team, the Preds, and he will have no pressure to perform. All of that pressure will fall on the Sedin twins, playing in their home rink. But the thought of the two of them cycling with Washington's Nicklas Backstrom should be outright scary for other teams.

Those teams will be Germany on February 17th, Belarus on the 19th (sorry guys, no Salo this time but I'll be back so hopefully I won't be a mush) and a gold medal replay against the Finns on the 21st.

1 comment:

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