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Team Sweden
Marc Ciampa
February 13th, 2002

Anger, frustration, disappointment.

Sounds like the reaction of the Canadian media and fans following the 1998 Winter Olympics. This was also the sentiment shared across Sweden (Swedish View) as they fell in the quarterfinals to Finland and ended up a disappointing fifth place in the tournament.

Also similar to Canada, there have been a number of questions surrounding the choices made by head coach Hardy Nilsson and general manager Anders Hedberg. Most notably, why they have left off such proven NHL talent as Fredrik Modin, Jonas Hoglund and (initially) Michael Nylander.

Nilsson's response is one Canadian fans have heard for some time now, "We have not chosen the best players all over, but tried to create the best team." That would explain the addition of such players as Jorgen Jonsson, Henrik Zetterberg and Flames prospect Matthias Johansson. Over the above listed. Nylander eventually did make the team, replacing the injured Peter Forsberg.

Strengths

The obvious main strength to this Swedish team is their depth on defence. Lidstrom, Ohlund, Johnsson and Jonsson make up an outstanding top-four. Rounding out their blueline is Norstrom, Ragnarsson and veteran Fredrik Olausson. In goal, Tommy Salo has won a Gold medal before and knows what it takes. Johan Hedberg is a capable backup.

NO.   PLAYER   Pos.   Ht.   Wt.   Birth Date   Team 
1 Johan Hedberg G 6'0 185 5/5/73 Pittsburgh (NHL)
2 Mattias Ohlund D 6'2 220 9/9/76 Vancouver (NHL)
3 Kim Johnsson D 6'1 178 3/16/76 Philadelphia (NHL)
4 Fredrik Olausson D 6'2 198 10/5/66 Detroit (NHL)
5 Nicklas Lidstrom D 6'1 190 4/28/70 Detroit (NHL)
10 Marcus Ragnarsson D 6'1 215 8/13/71 San Jose (NHL)
11 Daniel Alfredsson RW 5'11 195 12/11/72 Ottawa (NHL)
12 P.J. Axelsson LW 6'1 176 2/26/75 Boston (NHL)
13 Mats Sundin C 6'4 220 2/13/71 Toronto (NHL)
14 Mattias Norstrom D 6'1 205 1/2/72 Los Angeles (NHL)
17 Mattias Johansson F - - - Farjestad (Sweden)
19 Mikael Renberg RW 6'2 218 5/5/72 Toronto (NHL)
20 Magnus Arvedson LW 6'2 198 11/25/71 Ottawa (NHL)
22 Ulf Dahlen RW 6'2 199 1/12/67 Washington (NHL)
24 Niklas Sundstrom RW 6'0 190 6/6/75 San Jose (NHL)
29 Kenny Jonsson D 6'3 195 10/6/74 NY Islanders (NHL)
32 Mikael Tellqvist G 6'3 189 6/8/79 Toronto (NHL)
35 Tommy Salo G 5'11 173 2/1/71 Edmonton (NHL)
40 Henrik Zetterberg F - - - Timra (Sweden)
42 Jorgen Jonsson LW 6'0 185 9/29/72 Farjestads (Sweden)
91 Markus Naslund RW 5'11 195 7/30/73 Vancouver (NHL)
96 Tomas Holmstrom LW 6' 200 1/23/73 Detroit (NHL)
- Michael Nylander C 6'1 195 10/3/72 Chicago (NHL)

Weaknesses

The depth of forwards for the Swedish squad pales in comparison to other clubs such as Russia, Canada and the USA. Beyond its top five of Alfredsson, Sundin, Naslund, Renberg and Nylander the team is composed of largely players who are on the third and fourth lines of their respective NHL clubs.

History

Things looked promising in Nagano as Sweden (Swedish View) opened the last Olympics with a win over the USA followed by a hard fought 3-2 loss to Canada. In the end, they lost 2-1 to Finland in the quarterfinals. In 1994, they defeated Canada in a shootout to claim the Gold medal. The only team they lost to in that tournament was Canada, in the Round Robin portion of the tournament. They also won Bronze in 1980, 1984 and 1988 in Calgary.

Flames Prospects/Players

Matthias Johansson is one of only four non-NHLers on the Swedish roster. He was a third-round pick for the Flames way back in 1992 and has been regarded as one of the top defensive forwards in the Swedish Elite League. His performance in this tournament could go a long way in whether or not we see him in training camp next season.

Keys to Victory

The key to victory for the Swedish club is threefold:

(1) The execution of their "Torpedo" system. Here is an explanation of what it is:

Two forwards are used to forcheck deep in the zone. They are referred to as the "torpedoes" and two others play along the boards, that being a forward and a defenceman (or another forward). The fifth player a defensive defenceman plays back like a rover.

(2) Tommy Salo. Even though the Swedish defence is solid, Salo is going to be called upon to make more than a few spectacular saves. If he can get hot and play at his best, Sweden (Swedish View) will be a very difficult team to beat.

(3) Offence. It's going to have to come from somewhere, and Sweden (Swedish View) will be counting on its big guns to step up. Mats Sundin, Markus Naslund and Daniel Alfredsson all need to score regularly to ensure victory.

Did you know? Assistant coach Mats Waltin, who developed the "Torpedo" system was Sweden (Swedish View)'s flag bearer at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo.

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