Corey Abbott

Olympic Preview

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Olympic Preview: Pool C

Monday, February 10, 2014


 

 

Sweden

 

Goalies:

 

Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers - NHL) - The Rangers netminder has returned to form just in time for the Olympics.  He struggled earlier in the 2013-14 campaign, but he was superb in January and his play will determine if the Swedes are a serious gold medal contender for the Sochi Games.  Lundqvist  backstopped Sweden to a gold medal win in Turin during the 2006 Winter Olympics, so he understands what it takes to go all the way and he'll be counted on to do it again. 

 

Jonas Gustavsson (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Detroit's backup goalie will probably serve as Sweden's understudy in Sochi.  He has played for the Red Wings while Jimmy Howard has battled inconsistency and injuries this season.  "The Monster" has 13 wins and a .911 save percentage in 22 games. 

 

Jhonas Enroth (Buffalo Sabres - NHL) - Enroth has endured a forgettable and frustrating 2013-14 season to this point.  He has one win in 20 outings for the last-place Buffalo Sabres.  Ryan Miller has been spectacular this year as well, so the motivation to play Enroth hasn't been strong and that probably won't change during the Olympics behind the likes of Henrik Lundqvist.

 

Defensemen:

 

Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators -NHL) - The offensively talented defenseman scores like he's a forward and Karlsson leads all NHL blueliners with 55 points in 59 games this season.  He logs big minutes for the Ottawa Senators and should be a fixture on Sweden's power play at the Olympics.

 

Niklas Kronwall (Detroit Red Wings -NHL) - Kronwall does it all for the Red Wings as the club's leader on the back end and he'll be Sweden's go to defenseman in all situations during the Winter Olympics.  He'll be the Swedes most physical blueliner and opposing players will need to keep their heads up when he's on the ice. 

 

Alexander Edler (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - The Vancouver blueliner won't be eligible to play in Sweden's first two games of the tournament because of a suspension from the IIHF for a knee-on-knee hit on Canada's Eric Staal during the World Hockey Championships last spring.  Edler has underperformed dramatically this season under new coach John Tortorella and injuries have played a role in his struggles. 

 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL)- Phoenix's 22-year-old rearguard has taken another step forward this season.  He's on pace to top 40 points for the first time in his young NHL career this year and he's one of the best mobile defenders in the league.   The Swedes will probably utilize his skills on the power play, where he has generated 13 of his 29 points. 

 

Jonathan Ericsson (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Eriksson plays with fellow Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall in Detroit, so it wouldn't be surprising if the two of them remained together in Sochi.  Ericsson leads the Wings' defense corps with a plus-9 rating in 38 appearances this season and he's accustomed with playing against the top players of the opposition.

 

Niklas Hjalmarsson (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - He is having a career year offensively for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, with 23 points in 60 games, but he's mostly known for being a steady and responsible defenseman in his own zone.  Hjalmarsson is also an excellent penalty killer and blocks plenty of shots.

 

Johnny Oduya (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Nothing stands out when it comes to Oduya's game.  He isn't an offensive threat and he isn't very physical, but he gets the job done well in Chicago.  Oduya has good mobility and his chemistry with Hjalmarsson, as members and defense partners of the Blackhawks, should keep him in Sweden's lineup for most of the tournament.  

 

Henrik Tallinder (Buffalo Sabres - NHL) - He's been disappointing in Buffalo this season.  Tallinder struggled with injuries and poor play in his last two seasons with New Jersey prior to being re-acquired by the Sabres this past summer.  It hasn't been a successful homecoming and he'll probably serve as an extra for the Swedes in Sochi. 

 

Forwards:

 

Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - He'll captain the Swedish team at the 2014 Sochi Games just like does in North America with Detroit.  Zetterberg hasn't let a wonky back slow him down this season, as he has amassed 16 goals and a team-leading 48 points in 45 games.  He'll be a key playmaker for Sweden at the tournament and he'll make their power play very dangerous alongside Ottawa's Erik Karlsson.  Zetterberg's versatility to play center or the wing will also probably be used by the Swedes.    

 

Daniel Alfredsson (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - The veteran winger has always performed well for Sweden on the international stage and he'll be seeking another strong performance in Sochi in what will more than likely be his last Olympics.  The 41-year-old has shown he still has a knack for scoring points this year. Alfredsson has accounted for 14 goals and 35 points in 46 games with Detroit. 

 

Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals - NHL) - Backstrom is one of the better playmakers in the league and he's tied for third in the NHL with 45 helpers in 59 games this season.  He'll have plenty of skilled players to dish the puck to during the Olympics and he will be another key member of Sweden's power play group.  Backstrom leads the NHL in power-play points with a total of 31. 

 

Marcus Johansson (Washington Capitals - NHL) - Johansson got the call for the Olympics after Henrik Sedin was forced to pull out because of a rib injury.  He can play center or the wing and his chemistry with Washington teammate Nicklas Backstrom will probably see the two of them skate on the same line in Sochi.  If they were to play together then they would need a shooter on the other wing because they are both pass-first players. 

 

Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - Daniel will enter the Olympics on a serious cold streak.  He has produced 13 goals and 40 points in 60 games, which is well below his typical pace but has not found the back of the net in the 2014 calendar year.  Vancouver has struggled to score this season and the inability of the Sedin twins to produce like they normally do has had a lot do with that.  Perhaps representing his country in the Winter Games can shake him out of his slump, but he'll have to do it without his brother because Henrik is injured and won't play in Sochi. 

 

Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche - NHL) - Colorado's young captain has been surging offensively since late December and he has 48 points in 57 games this season.  He excels at playing a North-American style game, but his skills are well suited for the larger ice as well.  This will be his first appearance at the Olympics. 

 

Alexander Steen (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Steen has enjoyed a stellar season with St. Louis in 2013-14 and he's done despite suffering a concussion.  He also suffered a broken toe not too long ago, but it didn't keep him from staying in the starting lineup.  Steen has already established a new personal best with 28 goals and he's on pace to shatter his previous high for points (51) as he currently has amassed a total of 46 in just 46 contests. 

 

Loui Eriksson (Boston Bruins - NHL) - A pair of concussions in 45 days has sidetracked Eriksson's first year in Boston.  He has six goals and 14 assists in 37 outings.  Eriksson was projected to play in the Bruins' top-six group, but he's been relegated to the third line since his return from his second trip to the infirmary.  However, he shouldn't be dismissed entirely as an afterthought on Sweden's roster.  He has good two-way instincts and could play anywhere in the lineup.   He may be paired with Daniel Sedin during the Olympics because he has had success with the Sedins at international competitions in the past.

 

Gustav Nyquist (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Nyquist was placed on Sweden's roster as an injury replacement for his Detroit teammate, Johan Franzen.  The Red Wings' salary cap restraints forced Nyquist to open the regular season in the minors, but he's been superb at the NHL level since rejoining the team because of injuries.  He has clicked with Henrik Zetterberg on the top line and the two of them may see time together in Sochi as well. 

 

Carl Hagelin (New York Rangers - NHL) - He missed the start of the 2013-14 campaign because of shoulder surgery and he's produced 23 points in 49 games.  Hagelin's incredible speed will be put to good use on the larger ice of the Olympic games, but it's hard to envision him making much of a dent offensively during the tournament. 

 

Marcus Kruger (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Kruger is capable of chipping in offense, but he's mostly used as penalty killer and a defensive presence by Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.  It stands to reason that Sweden will employ Kruger in similar roles during the Olympics. 

 

Patrik Berglund (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Berglund has taken a step back offensively this season.  He wasn't expected to duplicate his 23 percent shooting success rate in 2013-14, but he's recorded just eight goals and 24 points in 54 games.  The big-bodied forward should fill a depth role with Sweden at the tournament because he can succeed at both ends of the ice. 

 

Jakob Silfverberg (Anaheim Ducks - NHL) - A broken had knocked Silfverberg out of Anaheim's lineup for 24 games.  He has registered six goals and 15 points in 32 games this season, which is disappointing because he was picked by many as a candidate to have a breakout year. 

 

Jimmie Ericsson (Skelleftea AIK - SHL) - He is the older brother of Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and plays for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League.  He can play center or the wing and is a solid two-way player who doesn't shy away from physicality.  In 43 games in Sweden's top league, Ericsson has tallied 13 goals, 27 points and 50 penalty minutes this season.    


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Corey Abbott is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him Twitter @CoreAbbott.
Email :Corey Abbott



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