Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Sweden shows the home folk a good time

For Germany the good news is that there are now more home grown players in the line up than ever before, gone apparently are the days where Canadian boys who had distant relatives in Germany, could don the colours of Deutschland without argument. The not so good news for Germany's head coach Franz Reindl is, that many of the homegrowns are not quite the Ready for Prime Time Players.

With seven NHL hands on the bench Germany gave it a valiant effort, but were outperformed by a star studded Swedish squad as game number two in the World Cup of Hockey took place in Stockholm. The one line that Germany could offer up as an offensive threat was Sturn, Goc and Hecht, key on them as the Swedes did and scoring ops are few and far between. To counter that short coming, Germany utilized a rather ugly defensive style of play, clogging up the centre ice area and hoping to keep the Swedes cooped up, but eventually Sweden found a way to break free of the desperation move. By the third period of this icebreaker for both teams the Germans were offering little in the way of resistance to the Swedish attack.

Hometown hero Mats Sundin figured prominently in the game, making some eye catching passes, gaining two assists and scoring one of those highlight style goals you watch with awe. This one a wicked backhander, that caught German goaltender Ollie Kolzig a bit unawares, Sundin’s goal broke a 1-1 tie and started the Swedes on to their eventual 5-2 defeat of the Germans.

Sweden controlled most of the flow of the game, spending a fair amount of the game peppering Kolzig with shots after shot. By the time the final whistle had blown and the teams had returned to their dressing rooms, Kolzig had faced 42 shots while Tommy Salo handled 19 German attempts. Salo raised a few eyebrows at times as he misplayed both German goals, the first a breakaway by Marco Sturm which saw Salo go down early and leave a fair amount of net for the San Jose shark to shoot at, the second goal a shot by Daniel Kreutzer was eerily similar to one Salo fluffed in the Olympics fluttering over his glove into the top corner. Fortunately for Sweden the Germans wouldn’t wander into the Swedish end all that often during the game.

Swedish marksmen included Tomas Holstrom, Kim Johnsson, Marcus Nillson and Frederik Modin scored in addition to Sundin. While they played a well rounded game, the Swedes were not overly happy with their performance, suggesting they need to tighten things up a bit if they hope to go any distance in the competition. Goaltending may become their Achilles heel before the 14th of September. It’s expected that Maple Leaf Mikael Tellqvist will get the nod on Wednesday, when the Swedes are home to the Czech Republic

For Germany one lesson to learn from the Swedish game will be to stay out of the penalty box. The Germans took too many penalties giving the Swedes far more chances than they really needed. Taking seven penalties in the game they were fortunate that Sweden could only convert one for a power play goal. If they give Finland that many chances on Thursday they may find themselves chasing Finnish forwards for most of the game.

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