Detroit Red Wings
Clear Bag Policy Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

Swedes content to be overlooked, for now

Tuesday, 02.16.2010 / 9:28 AM ET / Features
By Dan Rosen  - Senior Writer
Share with your Friends

Swedes content to be overlooked, for now
Canada and Russia. Canada and Russia. Canada and Russia.

You've heard a lot about those two teams and you're only going to hear more as the Olympic tournament gets under way, but it just seems like we're all forgetting something, doesn't it?

Oh yeah, the Swedes. You know, the defending gold medalists.
Those guys.

Sweden is approaching this tournament with a quiet confidence. Thirteen of the 23 players on the roster are back after winning gold in 2006. The biggest difference this year is Mats Sundin is not playing, but the Swedes have some young guns ready.

They know that for Canada or Russia to win gold, at some point the road has to go through Tre Kronor, and that's when they plan on inserting themselves into the debate of who is the world's best.

For now, Sweden is happy to lie on the outskirts of the debate. The players are thrilled that they are barely even in the gold-medal-favorites discussion. They weren't four years ago either, but who stood highest on the medal stand in Torino?

It could happen again.


Just as it was four years ago in Italy, this is going to be the Henrik Lundqvist show.

Lundqvist posted five wins and a 2.33 goals-against average in Torino to help Sweden win gold. Ever since, he has been one of the elite goalies in the NHL and is a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist.

But Lundqvist has been hot and cold lately as he tries to keep one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL in the playoff race. He snapped a personal six-game losing streak in a 3-1 win over New Jersey on Feb. 6, but he still owns 23 wins and 2.44 goals-against average.

Lundqvist will be playing in front of a better defense in the Olympics and he usually brings his game up a few notches when there is a lot on the line. As for the list of concerns the Swedes may have entering the tournament, Lundqvist barely registers.

Stefan Liv, who plays in the Swedish Elite League, is back as his backup, while Toronto's Jonas Gustavsson also is in the mix.


If everyone is healthy, this is a formidable defense that's, of course, led by Nicklas Lidstrom. A key question, though, is how healthy is Lidstrom's teammate in Detroit, Niklas Kronwall, and will he even be able to play?

Kronwall, who played for the gold-medal winning team four years ago, had a knee injury earlier this season that forced him to miss two months. He re-injured his knee Feb. 2 at San Jose and missed the next few games waiting for a form-fitting knee brace.

The Swedes have to hope that doesn't limit Kronwall's effectiveness because when he's healthy he's a threat on the power play and is one of the most ferocious hitters in the game.

Mattias Ohlund joins Lidstrom and Kronwall as the other members of the defense corps that won gold in Torino. Henrik Tallinder, Douglas Murray, Johnny Oduya, Tobias Enstrom and long-time National team member Magnus Johansson are the newcomers to the Olympic team.

Johansson has represented Sweden at the World Championships seven times, and won gold in 2006. He plays for Linkopings HC in the Swedish Elite League.

Murray could have the biggest impact of all of Sweden's new defensemen. A former eighth-round pick in 1999, Murray is still a relative unknown playing in San Jose, but he's one of the League's most powerful defenseman.


In terms of skill, Sweden ranks right up there with Russia and Canada. The Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, are only part of this artistic group of forwards. Let's not forget about Nicklas Backstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson and, of course, Peter Forsberg.

Henrik Sedin and Backstrom are among the top scorers in the NHL.

Forsberg, who is playing in the Swedish Elite League, is supposedly healthy and ready to play in the Olympics. He has been targeting this tournament for quite some time, and it appears his chronically injured foot is ready to go. Forsberg also won gold with Sweden in 1994, four years before the NHL started sending players to the Olympics.

Figuring that the Sedin twins will play together, it's possible that coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson tries to use Backstrom and Zetterberg as a pair on a lethal second line. Backstrom already has a history of setting up a fairly good left wing (Alex Ovechkin) and Zetterberg is used to playing with a dynamic center (Pavel Datsyuk).

That would leave Forsberg and Alfredsson to play together on a potent third line. The extra winger on each of the first three lines can be chosen from a variety of players, including Tomas Holmstrom, Loui Eriksson and Patric Hornqvist, who leads Nashville in goals.

Holmstrom, though, has a bruised left knee.

Fredrik Modin, Sammy Pahlsson and Mattias Weinhandl, who plays in the KHL, would be the checking line. Sweden GM Mats Naslund picked only 12 forwards so he could go with eight defensemen.

Star gazing

Forsberg is a national icon in Sweden, but "Foppa" also is 36-years-old and has a history of chronic foot and ankle injuries that de-railed his NHL career. He has been playing this season for his hometown club, MODO, in the Swedish Elite League, but recently had a rib injury that cost him some games. Expectations on Forsberg are always big, and Swedes are expecting him to deliver in the Olympics.

Striking it rich

The Swedes are coming into Vancouver well under the radar, but if they stay within their structure and get another championship effort from Lundqvist, they have enough talent to get into the gold-medal game again. They have the experience, too, but it'll be up to the veterans to guide the young guns like Backstrom, Eriksson and Hornqvist in the right direction.




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map