Swedish national team

It’s finally here. With the Olympics getting under way and the hockey starting soon, it’s time to roll out our preview of each team between now and puck drop. May the best team win.

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The basics

The Swedish national hockey team is currently ranked number one in the world by the IIHF. Well la-dee-dah. Their head coach is Car Parts Pär Mårts (it’s funny because it sounds different than North American names, haha), 24 of their 25 players are NHLers (exception: Jimmie Ericsson of the Swedish Hockey League), and they finished fifth at the 2010 Winter Olympics.sweden

Member Since March 23, 1912
Total Players 64,214
Male Players 13,060
Junior Players 47,968
Female Players 3,186
Total Referees 81
Indoor Rinks 352
Outdoor Rinks 139
Nation Population 9,119,423
President Christer Englund
Men’s World Ranking 1
Women’s World Ranking 6

Group

C, with the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Latvia.

Roster

GOALTENDERS NHL Team
Jhonas Enroth Buffalo Sabres
Jonas Gustavsson Detroit Red Wings
Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers
DEFENSEMEN  
Alexander Edler Vancouver Canucks
Oliver Ekman-Larsson Phoenix Coyotes
Jonathan Ericsson Detroit Red Wings
Niklas Hjalmarsson Chicago Blackhawks
Erik Karlsson Ottawa Senators
Niklas Kronwall Detroit Red Wings
Johnny Oduya Chicago Blackhawks
Henrik Tallinder Buffalo Sabres
FORWARDS  
Daniel Alfredsson Detroit Red Wings
Nicklas Bäckstrom Washington Capitals
Patrik Berglund St. Louis Blues
Jimmie Ericsson
Loui Eriksson Boston Bruins
Johan Franzen Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist * Detroit Red Wings
Carl Hagelin New York Islanders
Marcus Krüger Chicago Blackhawks
Gabriel Landeskog Colorado Avalanche
Daniel Sedin Vancouver Canucks
Henrik Sedin Vancouver Canucks
Jakob Silfverberg Anaheim Ducks
Alexander Steen St. Louis Blues
Henrik Zetterberg Detroit Red Wings

Biggest names

Daniel Sedin (Henrik is hurt, won’t play), Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson, Henrik Lundqvist. Also, like 10 other guys.

Depth

This is a team that left Victor Hedman at home – a guy having one of the best seasons of any defenseman anywhere – so, whether that was the right call or not (not), that they were even in a position to make such an error is a compliment to their depth. So while they aren’t quite ”Canada deep,” they’re more than deep enough.

Strengths

Sweden2-2Starting with the plain old obvious: this is a team with forwards that can score – Zetterberg, Sedin, Steen, Backstrom, Landeskog and so on – that’s going to be receiving breakout passes from some of the best in the world, particularly Karlsson and Ekman-Larsson. I think their speed (from both the front and back-end) is going to push back opposing d-men which should allow them to carry the puck in across the line, and this is one patient group from there. They were blessed not have been embedded with that North American chip at birth that makes us want to get rid of the puck as soon as humanly possible. OH DEAR GOD THE PUCK’S BEEN ON MY STICK FOR FOUR SECONDS WHAT DO I DO? That means the Swedes could be dangerous going east-west in the zone.

They have arguably the best goaltender in the world. I know I bestowed that title on Tuukka Rask as well, and I know Lundqvist hasn’t had his career best season, but it’s not hard to put together an argument for him as The Guy when you look at this whole body of work. He could easily steal a game or two for the Swedes.

And, the most annoying thing (from the standpoint of the opposition) about this well-rounded group is that they’re largely of the positionally-responsible nature and have that touch of grit that means you’re not going to be given many gift-wrapped open looks, and you’re going to have to go through some tough dudes to earn your chances. Good luck to ya.

Weaknesses

It’s not so much that they have your typical “weaknesses,” it’s that they could’ve been even better if it weren’t for injuries. Jimmie Ericsson and Marcus Kruger certainly aren’t Henrik Sedin and Johan Franzen. Also, their depth defenders are only average. Johnny Oduya and Henrik Tallinder are fine, they’re just not jaw-droppers.

Route to the Olympics

Top nine teams in the IIHF rankings get in automatically – number one overall falls within those parameters.

Prediction

I really, really like this Swedish team. I was really, really tempted to call them to win it all. Again: really. But in the end, all you can do is pick the roster you think is best top to bottom and try not to guess too much. Based on that I picked Canada to win it all, so I have the Swedes taking home the silver medal. But I wouldn’t be surprised to be off by a spot here.

Schedule

Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)

Wednesday, February 12th: CZECzech Republic 21:00 SwedenSWE
Friday, February 14th: SWESweden 16:30 SwitzerlandSUI
Saturday, February 15th: SWESweden 21:00 LatviaLAT

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Other Previews

Canada

USA

Russia

Finland

Czech Republic

Slovakia

Switzerland

Norway

Latvia

Austria

Slovenia