Burgundy here. In addition to being without Jaden Schwartz (fractured ankle) and Zach Kassian (suspension), Canada were also without Sean Tomlinson Friday evening. Tomlinson, who presumably has better New Years plans than me, was a late scratch for this preliminary game against Sweden. It’s expected Tomlinson will draw back into the line up on Sunday (read: write World Junior reviews for Houses of The Hockey) for Canada’s quarter-final game.

Quarter-finals? What the puck?

Yeah, Canada lost. And honestly, this was a bit of a weird game. It featured lots of goals, big hits, questionable goaltending, hell, it pretty much had everything. Except a Canadian win. Perhaps this Sweden victory, in a dramatic shootout no less, will provide a bit more motivation for Canada and maybe a lesson in playing a full, complete game.

Canada’s game bounced between furious and too laid back. Canada’s failure to play 60 hard and aggressive minutes ultimately cost them the game. Oh, and some weak goaltending by Edmonton Oilers prospect Olivier Roy. As a result, Sweden skip ahead to the tournament Semi-finals while Canada will play in the Quarter-finals. A costly loss for the Canadians as they probably could have used the extra few days off to heal several nagging injuries.

A little more of this, please

It goes without saying that Sweden is the best team Canada has faced so far in the 2011 World Junior Championships. Canada started the game the way they should have, with strong forechecking and crushing hits from Marcus Foligno and Ryan Johansen, among others. Unfortunately, one of Canada’s biggest strengths was one of their biggest downfalls. The team simply could not sustain the kind of pressure required to slow Sweden down and keep them to perimeter chances.

I thought Canada’s four returning players — Ryan Ellis, Jared Cowen, Calvin de Haan and Brayden Schenn — stepped up and lead the team well in Friday’s game. These guys made big plays at the right moments to keep the game close, despite being badly outshot. Curtis Hamilton’s shorthanded goal in the 2nd period, set up by Schenn after nearly getting knocked into 2011, stands as a great example of the veterans leading the way.

Despite the limited number of shots throughout the game, Canada did well to capitalize on their scoring chances. That’s a nice way of saying they need to do a better job of generating more scoring chances, more shots etc…

A little less of this, please

Let’s get this out of the way now. This was not Olivier Roy’s strongest outing. In fact, it was anything but that. Roy looked shaky from the moment he faced his first shot (which fittingly stood as Sweden’s first goal). Sweden were quick to key in on Roy’s weaknesses. Most of Sweden’s scoring opportunities featured high glove-hand shots on Roy and resulted in several goals. Roy  looked nervous at times by letting out strange rebounds and didn’t do a good enough job of controlling pucks that came his way.

As I alluded to earlier, I felt Canada took their foot off the proverbial pedal too many times throughout this game. Moving forward, they’ll need to put in a complete effort to beat other strong teams like Sweden and Team USA. Canada was guilty of sitting back on leads, especially on the Patrick Cehlin goal that tied the game at five late in the 3rd period. This was a much different team than Canada faced a week and a half ago in the exhibition game which was hosted in Toronto. Sweden matched Canada’s intensity and didn’t sit back nearly as much as Canada.

Random facts about…Sweden

The Sweden roster features Adam Larsson, Johan Larsson, Carl Klingberg and John Klingberg. Although Carl and John are brothers, the two Larsson’s are not. Aren’t you glad you now know this?

Boring but important vitals

Population: 9,354,462

Largest export: Machinery, motor vehicles, gorgeous women and hockey players with way too many “S’s” in their names.

Some of the world’s greatest pop acts come from Sweden including Ace of Base, The Cardigans, Robyn and Abba… ABBA!

Most attractive export

Börje Salming

Yeah… look at that face… those biceps… Kidding, folks!

Most attractive export, for real

Elin Nordegren

I know, it was the easy answer, but I have a thing for blondes. And this is a terrific picture of Elin Nordegren. Also, Nordegren is now single, extremely wealthy and apparently falls for stupid/selfish/somewhat immature men. Translation: we still have a shot, guys.

Fun facts

  • According to a 2006 report, Swedish people have the longest life expectancy in Europe (80.51 years).
  • Based on my questionable research, which is similar to Olivier Roy’s performance in this game, Sweden is expected to be the first country in the world to phase out petrol for biofuel.
  • The Watchmen’s Malin Ackerman was born in Sweden.
  • Sweden is home to the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System.
  • Henrik Zetterberg, a Swede, married another Swede, TV personality Emma Anderson last summer. The result? Hilariously strange pictures. It’s a Swedish thing, I guess.