Henrik Zetterberg injury major blow to Sweden's Olympic chances
Jeff Carter gets rolling for Team Canada
There is a chance Sweden could have won the gold medal even without injured Henrik Sedin.
It’s not like Sedin was shooting the lights out with the Vancouver Canucks, anyway, so the fact he was unable to play in the Olympics because of a nagging rib injury didn’t put the Swedes that far behind the eight ball.
Given its depth coupled with the fact it has the fabulous Henrik Lundqvist in goal, Sweden might even have been able to capture gold without Sedin and Johan Franzen, who missed the Olympics because of a concussion.
But when you throw Henrik Zetterberg into the injury mix, well, all bets are off. The absence of Sedin, Franzen and now Zetterberg means Sweden has lost 643 NHL goals from its lineup.
Zetterberg has pulled out of the Olympics due to back pain. It is not a new injury. Captain of the Red Wings and Team Sweden, Zetterberg is likely to miss some games with Detroit when the NHL schedule resumes Feb. 26.
“He has to see a doctor, but he will not be ready by the time we come out of the Olympic break,” said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. “Beyond that I have no real time frame. I don’t know if he will need surgery. He is going to wait until he feels better and then fly home early next week.”
Even without Zetterberg, Sweden managed to hold off pesky Switzerland thanks to a late goal by another Red Wing, Daniel Alfredsson, for a 1-0 victory. The former Ottawa Senators’ captain tapped a rebound home past Swiss goalie Reto Berra from in tight at 12:39. The Swiss have now played two 1-0 games, winning one and losing one.
The victory was sweet for Sweden, but much of the focus after the game was about the loss of Zetterberg. For the Swedes to seriously win the gold medal now it will take a monumental effort and a little good luck.
“You just have to regroup and stay positive,” Lundqvist said. “You look for new leaders on the team to emerge.”
Added forward Marcus Johansson: “Obviously it’s a tough break for us. You can’t replace those players. I don’t even know where to start to say how good those players are. It hurts and everybody knows it."
Carter fires hat trick
Jeff Carter scored a natural hat trick to lead Canada to an easy 6-0 win over Austria. Having beaten Norway 3-1 in its opener, Canada is now 2-0 at the Olympics and faces Finland Sunday.
Not surprisingly, coach Mike Babcock tinkered with his lineup inserting forward Matt Duchene and defenceman P.K. Subban, who both sat out Game 1, and resting defenceman Dan Hamhuis and forward Patrick Sharp. Mike Smith was the backup to starter Roberto Luongo with Game 1 starter Carey Price sitting out.
Babcock also bumped Carter off the top line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, but the Los Angeles Kings sniper didn’t pout; he went out and did what he does best – score goals. He scored at 2:39, 4:09 and 14:33 of the second period. Ironically, Carter completed the game with the least amount of ice time of any Canadian skater, playing just 8:46.
If Carter’s confidence took a hit after the Olympic opener, it was restored against Austria.
“Oh, it’s huge,” Carter admitted. “Confidence in these tournaments is a big thing with it being so short. You get a goal and you start to fee; good about yourself. Your legs start to feel better, the hands start to feel better, and it feels like the game comes easier. It’s definitely big.”
Martin St. Louis and Duchene split time plying right wing with Crosby. Kunitz was also bumped off the line for a time with Duchene and St. Louis playing together with Crosby; Duchene moving to left-wing.
Finding a winning line combination that includes Crosby has been difficult. With all the shuffling that has been going on – Carter and John Tavares spent time playing with Crosby and Kunitz in Game 1 – Crosby has managed just one assists in the two games. He looked frustrated at times against Austria.
What have we learned through two games about Canada’s goaltending? Nothing, really. Price allowed one goal on 20 shots Thursday and Luongo got the shutout, but wasn’t tested often as he made 23 saves.
Who starts Game 3?
Babcock now has to decide between Price’s superior rebound control vs. Luongo’s previous Olympic experience and his shutout.
It’s pretty hard to imagine what kind of a game Canada is in for against Finland Sunday. While the Canadians looked mediocre against Norway in their opener, Finland blew Norway out of the water 6-1 Friday.
The Czech Republic rebounded from an opening loss to Sweden by doubling Latvia 4-2. Jaromir Jagr scored once for the Czechs giving him two goals for the tournament and nine in his five Olympic Games career.
“He’s slick, he makes the play and he’s a world class player,” said Latvian coach Ted Nolan. “Today he proved how good he is again.”