There is something rather likeable about the Swedes and they have only confirmed my affection after tonights final.
Beating Team Canada regardless of their lineup is an incredible feat in itself. A match jam-packed with offensive play, Canada firing 43 shots at Henrik Lundqvist and Sweden 41 at Calvin Pickard.
It’s fair to say that Canada were not firing on all cylinders throughout the tournament and weren’t simply going to walk it this time around in their attempt of the cringingly named ‘threepeat’. No team had achieved that since the Czech Republic won three times on the trot back in 1999-2001. Canada struggled in the knockout phases, surviving a genuine scare from the hosting Germans in the QFs, even though they outshot them by 30 shots. Moving onto the semis and it looked all but over for this Canadian side, two down going into the third period, simply too careless with the puck in their own zone. Four third period goals would bail the Canucks out of yet another sticky situation.
Sweden’s journey to the final was a tad simpler. Disposing of a tricky Swiss outfit 3-1 before blasting past the out of sorts Finnish side. Finland oddly falling to hosts France in the group stages. Lacking a certain Patrik Laine for sure. One player has stood out above all else on the Swedish team and it was the Toronto Maple Leaf William Nylander who brushing aside any playoff fatigue/heartbreak has played out of his skates. Finishing the tournament with 14 points in 10 games.
The game deserved the lottery of the shootout, both teams were so close it was hard to pick a righteous winner and thus it was left to the hockey gods. Canada would not manage a single shot past Henrik Lundqvist in the deciding shootout, in four attempts. Sweden would score twice, Backstrom and Ekman-Larsson seeing the Swedes home.
William Nylander who was named tournament MVP would miss his attempt, the confident rookie Leaf stepping up first. Fellow rookie Leaf Mitch Marner, who impressed on the fourth line for Canada all tournament would also miss.
Sweden the deserved winners of this years trophy, Canada will be disappointed as anything short of a gold is failure in their eyes. It’s not all bad for the North-Americans as five of the seven Canadian teams made the NHL playoffs this year (one remains).