Flames ready for Canada-Sweden showdown
CALGARY, AB -- By his own account, Mikael Backlund has been mum on the gold medal showdown at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Backlund, who comprises the entire Swedish contingent in the Calgary Flames locker room, is trying to keep a low profile when it comes to Canada’s golden matchup against Sweden on Sunday to determine hockey supremacy in Sochi.
“I’ve been pretty quiet,” the 24-year-old said. “I know usually how it goes. If you chirp too much, it comes back to you quickly if you don’t win. I’ve had it happen to me on ice and off ice. I’m trying to be a little calm before and just be a bad winner if Sweden wins.”
Sweden advanced to the finals of the Olympic tournament after downing Finland 2-1 in the semifinal. They’ve overcome injuries, including one to Henrik Zetterberg, to improve to 5-0-0-0 in the tournament and look to remain unbeaten in their quest to capture their first gold since 2006.
Canada, on the other hand, is hoping to become the first nation to repeat as Olympic gold medalists since the Soviet Union won back-to-back titles in 1984 and ’88. Like Sweden, Canada too has yet to be beaten.
Backlund, who has represented Sweden at the Under-16, U17, U18, World Junior Championship and World Championship, thinks his country has what it takes to end Canada’s run.
“[Sweden] has a deep team even though Henrik Zetteberg, Henrik Sedin’s out, Johan Franzen,” said Backlund, who admitted his only bet thus far has been with Joe Colborne. “They still have a deep squad and a great goaltender who has been playing well. Erik Karlsson’s been on fire, so if those two guys deliver again, we have a good chance to win.”
Mark Giordano knows it, too. After all, Backlund’s already informed him.
But Giordano, who was a candidate to represent Canada at the event, revealed Backlund hasn’t been nearly as silent as his teammate suggests.
“Backs is chirping a little bit about how Sweden’s population is a little bit lower than Canada’s and they have just as good a team,” he said. “It’s going to be interesting. I haven’t really seen Sweden play all that much in this tournament so it’s going to be a fun game to watch, for sure.”
After watching his country upend the United States 1-0 to earn a birth in the final, Giordano thinks Canada is poised for a second consecutive gold.
“I thought the Canadians played almost a perfect game [Friday],” he said. “They didn’t give up much, if anything. They’re looking good going into that final game. I’m going to try to get up and catch it if I can and hopefully they can pull out another good effort like they did the last game.”