Swedes Looking Good in Olympic Title Defence
Someone's going to have to knock out the champs.
Nobody's been able to do it so far, leaving Sweden untied and unbeaten in the men's hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics after capturing the Olympic title four years ago in Italy.
Victories over Germany, Belarus and then Finland on Super Sunday have made the Swedes a solid bet to return, although finishing behind the United States for the first seed after the preliminary round might given them a slightly more difficult schedule.
Like a semifinal date with Russia or Canada.
Right now, the Swedes simply look calmly familiar with each other and the task at hand, as seen in an easy 3-0 triumph over the Finns on Sunday, the same country the Swedes defeated to with the '06 Olympic title in Turin.
Goals from Loui Eriksson, Nicklas Backstrom and Johan Franzen powered the Swedes to their third win on Sunday at a packed Canada Hockey House. Henrik Lundqvist, who took the Belarus game off to do a little TV work, but as solid as ever against Finland, particularly during the second period when the Swedes took four straight penalties and gave the Finns two 5-on-3 powerplays.
Lundqvist has yet to allow a goal in these Games.
It was the least entertaining game of the day which earlier featured Russia's victory over the Czechs and Canada's loss to the United States.
Finland, even in defeat, finished fourth overall and gets a bye to the quarterfinals where it will likely face the Czech Repubic.
The U.S., meanwhile, is suddenly in a very appealing position. They'll play either the Swiss or Belarussians in the quarters, then likely the Czechs or Finns the semifinals. Olympic champions in 1960 and 1980, suddenly the U.S. might have a shot in another year ending with the number zero.
Canada finished sixth and plays Germany in the qualification round on Tuesday. Other matchups in that round are Czechs-Latvia, Switzerland-Belarus and Slovakia-Norway.