Sweden has had Canada game circled
He expects victory and he and his players want to celebrate gold for the first time since 1981. Ronnberg knows a bye into the semifinal round of this year's tournament would help in reaching that goal, but in order for that to happen, his club will have to pull off a pretty significant upset Friday against Canada at HSBC Arena (4 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, TSN).
"We've been waiting for the whole season for this moment," Ronnberg told NHL.com. "To come out here, listen to those (Canadian) fans in the first (period) and then in the third, listen to the silence."
Yep. They're serious.
"We always play for the win and we want to win this game (against Canada) badly," Ronnberg said. "It's an important game because if we work hard today, we can rest two days and go straight into the semis and I would love to sit in the stands and watch the semifinal between the U.S. and Canada."
A win Friday also would earn Sweden a measure of revenge for recent WJC performances. Sweden lost to Canada in the gold-medal game at the 2008 and '09 tournaments, and has beaten them just once in nine previous meetings dating to the 1998 WJC.
After notching a 6-3 victory against the Czech Republic on Thursday, the Swedes are ready for the most intriguing showdown of the preliminary round Friday afternoon. The joint will be jumping well before the opening faceoff.
"Canada's strength is in the power play," Ronnberg said. "They have good guys who can really shoot and share the puck with the man-advantage. We can't throw too many penalties (Friday), we have to stay disciplined and hard and play the same physical game we did the last time we met them in Toronto (a pre-tournament exhibition loss to Canada earlier this month). We have to play with more discipline."
Canada's power play is tops in the tournament, hitting at a 50-percent efficiency (7-for-14) in three games. Sweden's penalty kill is ranked fourth in the tournament at an 83.3-percent success rate. However, Sweden is tied with Norway as the fourth-most penalized team in the tournament (42 penalty minutes).
"I haven't really been satisfied with our discipline," Ronnberg said. "We've been playing too hard and maybe too much over the edge, but we have a hard-working team that loves to skate and loves to battle and we're hard to play against. I guess you have to take the good with the bad."
For the second straight game, Sweden will be without top 2011 Entry Draft-eligible prospect Gabriel Landeskog due to a severe ankle sprain. Landeskog did skate with the team Friday morning, but has been ruled out by Ronnberg, who also said he will start goalie Robin Lehner, a fine-looking prospect of the Ottawa Senators, between the pipes. In his only other start, he shut out Russia, 2-0.
"Not having Landeskog is a major loss because he's one of the leaders of this team," Ronnberg said. "He is always playing with a big heart for the team and he's a huge leader. On the other hand, some other guys are stepping up here. The guy playing on his original line, Max Friberg, has been really good. We have guys ready to take more ice time."
Canada coach Dave Cameron announced that Olivier Roy (2-0-0, 2.50 GAA, .891 save percentage) will be in net against Sweden. Canada will be without forwards Zack Kassian (suspension) and Jaden Schwartz (broken ankle). Meanwhile, defenseman Calvin de Haan (lower body) and forward Cody Eakin (finger) should be good to go after each sat out Canada's 10-1 victory over Norway on Wednesday.
"Our mindset at practice was pretty relaxed (Friday)," Ronnberg said. "We didn't put any focus on the performance during the practice because we want the guys to just re-focus for the next game against Canada. When you play back-to-back, it's important to close the game before and be ready for the next one."
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer