5 things Sweden needs to do to win gold in men's hockey
Karlsson and King Henrik keys to victory
Senior hockey writer Mike Brophy analyzes Sweden's strong suits which could factor into a win over Canada on Sunday at 7 a.m. ET.
Erik Karlsson must star: Arguably the most exciting individual in the tournament, the baby-faced Norris Trophy winner in 2012 can do it all: score, set up goals, lead the rush and control the tempo of the game. He suffers the occasional defensive lapse, but usually makes up for his errors with his offensive contribution.
Henrik must be king: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is the player the other Swedes look for to lead the way. He has been superbly steady between the pipes and must remain that way. With the Swedes down several great scorers because of injury, Lundqvist’s contribution becomes paramount.
The power play: Sweden has the best power play in the Olympic tournament, having scored seven times in 19 odd-man advantages. Karlsson leads the team with three power play goals and is a threat to score just about every time the opposition takes a penalty.
Standing up to Canada: If the Canadians decide to get physical, the Swedes must not back down. Thus far Canada has not been particularly physical through five games, but in a one-game showdown it may try to run the Swedes out of the rink. Sweden has grit, to be sure, but generally relies on speed and finesse to win games. It is hard to imagine Sweden being intimidated by Canada.
Score early: Canada has had all kinds of difficulty scoring in this tournament and may panic if the Swedes go up by a goal or two early. If Canada falls behind a little, panic may set in - especially among the numerous players that were expected to lead the team offensively, but have not scored in Sochi. Conversely, if Canada gets an early lead, it has demonstrated a real ability to suffocate the opposition’s offence.