Sweden

Sweden’s offense has rolled through the tournament so far, can they finish unbeaten with a win over Finland and grab the gold medal on home ice?

They’ve won every game they’ve played in this tournament. Pre-tournament, round robin, and now playoffs. Sweden is a combined 8-0-0, out scoring their opponents by a combined 37-10, which is obviously ridiculous. The Swedes have looked dominant in almost every game they’ve played. They have already played Finland in the round robin, winning 4-2, however there is one major difference for the Finns: their goaltender. Let’s look at the three groups for Sweden and see how they compare to those of the Finns.

Forwards:

There really is no competition here. While the Finns boast some impressive players such as Artturi Lehkonen, Saku Maenalanen, and, of course, their captain Teuvo Terravainen (who’s tied with Filip Forsberg for the tournament scoring lead), it pales in comparison to what the Swedes bring to the table. It starts with the line of Jacob de la Rose, Elias Lindholm, and Filip Forsberg. Two of those three were first round picks and have been in the NHL this season. Lindholm was a late addition as his NHL team, the Carolina Hurricanes, let him play in the tournament and despite playing in one less game than his teammates, Lindholm has still managed to total nine points (2-7). Jacob de la Rose is the more unheralded member of the line, but he certainly doesn’t look out-of-place. An early second round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, de la Rose has six points (3-3) in six games and looks dangerous all the time. Then there’s Filip Forsberg, the Swedish captain. Forsberg is tied for first in tournament scoring and is arguably the best player in the tournament (Teravainen would make a case). He’s looked dominant in pretty much every game he’s been in. You can expect him to bring his ‘A’ game in the gold medal showdown. After that, the Swedes can send out players like Alexander Wennberg (7 points), Andreas Johnson (6 points), and Andre Burakovsky (7 points). Then when you factor in other players like Sebastian Collberg, Nick Sorensen, and Lucas Wallmark, you have to give the advantage at forward to Sweden as they’re far too deep.

Defense:

This is a closer match-up. Finland brings a very good defense corps that is headed by Rasmus Ristolainen. After the big Buffalo Sabres draft pick, Finland has Ville Pokka, Julius Honka, and Esa Lindell. This defense group for Finland has shut teams down in this tournament and are a big reason as to why the Finns have allowed just a single power play goal all tournament. They bring different elements of size as well. Ristolainen and Lindell are 6’4 and 6’3 respectively while Pokka and Honka 6’0 and 5’11. Now while Sweden doesn’t have the names that Finland has, their group is still solid. Players like Gustav Olofsson, Christian Djoos, and Linus Arnesson won’t ‘wow’ you too much, but they’re a good group for Sweden to have to support their forwards. Although, they may end up being without a key piece of their defense. At the end of the game against Russia, Jesper Pettersson came out of the penalty box at the end of the game and went after Andrei Mironov. If the IIHF deems it bad enough, Pettersson could miss the gold medal game. That’s big for Sweden because Pettersson is the only defenseman (outside of Lukas Bengtsson) to be a right-handed shot. Sweden would then either play Bengtsson in the top four after he’s been an extra for most of the tournament or they play two left-handed shots on the right side. Either way, I’d give the edge on defense to Finland.

Goalie:

Now we have the closest match-up between the two teams. For Finland, they have Juuse Saros, a fourth round pick of the Nashville Predators going up against Sweden’s Oscar Dansk, a second round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Don’t let the draft positions make your judgement as Saros would have been picked as high as Dansk, but Saros is 5’10 which is small for a goaltender but he is just as skilled. Statistically, Saros has been better but only slightly. Dansk’s numbers are impressive with a .935 SV% and a 1.60 GAA, but Saros’ are better at .942 and 1.53. Dansk has a shutout, Saros does not. Dansk has allowed four power play goals, Saros hasn’t given up a single one. Dansk has allowed 8 goals, Saros has allowed 7 but Dansk has more saves (though only one more). It’s unbelievably close between these two very good netminders that I can’t pick a winner. In the end, Saros will probably have to deal with more shots from a deeper Swedish attack but Dansk will be tested as well. Dansk also has an advantage in that he’s seen Finland in person and Saros hasn’t played against Sweden yet in the tournament as it was Ville Husso who started the round robin game.

Prediction: Sweden wins 3-2. I think the advantage at forward is just too big for Finland to overcome, but Juuse Saros will do everything he can to keep his team in it.

Follow me on Twitter: @BShaw27.

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