With only a few days to go until the opening ceremonies for Sochi 2014, it seems like as good a time as any to take a look at the contenders for this years gold medal in Men’s Hockey – otherwise known as the Big Seven. The next on the list? Team Sweden.
Four years ago, Team Sweden finished 5th. When they arrive in Sochi next week, they will be looking to bounce back and skate away with the gold medal – with what would be their second gold medal in the last three Olympic Games. It’s worth noting that thirteen of the players on the Sweden team are return-players from Vancouver; six of them are return-players from the last time Sweden won gold in Torino.
The possibility of Sweden taking the gold, in fact, pretty high – if they can make it to the knock-out round, that is.
Team Sweden is absolutely stacked with talent – from New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson. While they won’t be the deepeest team down the middle, they do have two fo the top centers in the league – if not the planet – in Captain Zetterberg and Alternate Captain Sedin. Their crop of forwards is the seemingly perfect mixture of snipers and passers.
They will be missing Vancouver Cancuks defenseman Alex Edler for the first two games this year. Edler was suspended for a knee-on-knee hit to Eric Staal during the 2013 IIHF World Championships. Other defensemen for Team Sweden include Norris Trophy Winner Karlsson; projected future Norris winner Ekman-Larsson; Brodin; Kronwall; Hedman; Hjalmarsson and Murray. Overall, a young, well-balanced defensive core – especially with the Stanley Cup winning experience provided by Hjalmarsson. Any pairing brought out from this group would be able to not only contribute offensively, but shut down the opposition quite well during any game.
With all this talent playing ahead of Lundqvist, arguably one of the best goalies in the league from recent memory, Sweden definitely has a chance to take home the gold medal – and for some of the players on the team, this may be the last chance that they have.