Rise of the Swedes
- August 10, 2011 2:58 PM |
- By Darren Winkler
There are some universal signs shared by hockey fans all over the world that require no translation. There's the shoulder shrug, the head shake, and the downward hand wave - all gestures generally directed toward officials, often illustrating disgust with the calls on the ice.
I've seen all three signs a lot so far early in the Ivan Hlinka tournament.
Special teams have been at the forefront with the international referees calling almost everything. It happens at most tournaments in Europe, it just takes the players and the fans a few games to adjust.
Sweden scored three power-play goals to shock Canada 5-1 in the opener for both teams. The Swedes dominated with the extra man and rode the hot goaltending of Oscar Dansk to the win.
Year after year, Sweden comes to this tournament and showcases its elite talent. In recent seasons, the rise of Swedish prospects has been dramatic. Last year, a record four went in the Top 10 of the NHL Draft and a total of six went in the first round. The two previous drafts saw 19 Swedes get picked in the first two rounds. There is quality and depth in the Scandinavian pipeline.
The Swede to watch for in 2012 is Filip Forsberg, no relation to Peter. Still just 16, Forsberg is the total package ... size, skill, hungry for the puck. What I liked about him in the game versus Canada is how he initiated contact. At least two times Forsberg started a battle for a loose puck by bumping the defender before he could hit him. On both instances he came away with the puck. But he is much more than a grinder as you can tell from this clip.
It's very early but Forsberg could easily be a Top 5 overall pick with a strong season.
Another player likely to hear his named called near the top of the draft is Canadian Matt Dumba. The blue-liner starts the rush with great speed and seems comfortable in any situation. He logged heavy minutes versus Sweden and is not afraid to send a message physically. For me though his biggest strength is his skating, several times he quickly accelerated to create scoring chances.
WATCH: Dumba's blue-line rush
Others who have stood out at the tournament so far include Finland's Teuvo Teravainen, American Cristoval Nieves and Sweden's goalie Dansk.
I also spoke exclusively with American forward Alex Galchenyuk, a dual American/Russian citizen. He confirmed that even though the Hlinka tourney is not a sanctioned IIHF event - meaning he is still eligible to play for either nation internationally - he has no plans to wear another country's jersey.
For all the latest news and scores from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, you can follow Darren on Twitter: @TheVideoScout.
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- No quit in Canada: Hlinka champs again
- They were unorganized and out of sync. And one after another, they skated to the penalty box in a stream of infractions. The result - an opening game loss to Sweden and a tournament title in jeopardy. ... Continue reading this post
- Rise of the Swedes
- There are some universal signs shared by hockey fans all over the world that require no translation. There's the shoulder shrug, the head shake, and the downward hand wave - all gestures generally directed toward officials, often illustrating disgust with... Continue reading this post