Immediately after their elimination from the 2013 NHL postseason (with similar immediacy, even) Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, alongside the madman Alex Edler, accepted the invitation to the World Hockey Championships.
We’ve heard it time and time again: the Worlds mean a very different things for European hockey players. And it’s true. But these Worlds meant even more to the Swedish players, because Sweden wasn’t just a gold medal hopeful — they were the host nation. A win on home ice would make them the first host nation to win the tournament in 27 years, and to underscore how long ago that was, three of the eight nations in that 1986 World Championships – Czechoslovakia, West Germany, and gold medal host the Soviet Union — no longer exist.
On Sunday, Sedin-led Sweden (or Swedin, as it’s known when Daniel and Henrik are in the lineup) got it done, bringing gold to the land of the midnight sun.
When the Sedins were invited, it seemed clear that Sweden desperately needed their help. The Tre Kronor had gone 4-2 in the preliminary round robin at that point, which wasn’t terrible, but one of the two losses came in Sweden’s first game, versus Switzerland. At the time, this was cause for alarm. Little did anyone know that Switzerland would go undefeated the rest of the way, winning their group, slicing through the elimination round, and meeting the Swedes again in the gold medal game.
A win would have been an incredible capper on what was already a remarkable Cinderella story for the Swiss. The silver medal they would be awarded in the case of a loss was to be their first medal since 1953 and only the second silver medal in their history, after a 1935 second-place finish. But they wanted their first gold ever, and they knew it was attainable, since all they had to do was beat Sweden a second time.
Unfortunately, this time around, Sweden had magic twin wizards, and they were the difference in a decisive, 5-1 victory for the home team. Here are your highlights:
It seems strange to think that the Swedes ever trailed in this game, but their domination didn’t begin until after Roman Josi put the Swiss up 1-0, just shy of the fifth minute. The next 55 minutes were all Sweden.
Erik Gustafsson tied the game up a few minutes later, and after Nino Niederreiter was sent to the box for a hit to the head, Sweden struck again on the powerplay, with Henrik Sedin scoring what would turn out to be the game-winner. His celebration produced this awesome photo:
I’m not sure why that car got all those front-row seats.
After Simon Hjalmarsson scored Sweden’s 3-1 goal, Henrik set to work twisting the knife, producing both of the final two goals to cement the victory. He banked the 4-1 goal in off of Loui Eriksson’s skate. Then, he cued the parade of gold helmets by scoring the 5-1 empty-netter with a little over three minutes to go.
The gold helmets aren’t a Worlds thing, by the way. That was entirely Sweden’s innovation, and not everyone thought it was a good idea. Enjoy this rant from a Finnish reporter that thought it was a little over-the-top. Warning: NSFW due to strong language.
Anyway. Gold helmets. (And don’t worry, even though he was ineligible to play in the game due to his suspension for kneeing Eric Staal, Alex Edler still got onto the ice to get his gold hat and medal.)
But the real party came when the Swedish hair metal band arrived!
A few words on the twins’ success: the Sedins dominated the tournament upon their arrival, with Daniel putting up 6 points in 4 games and Henrik putting up 9, leading many embittered Canucks fans to wonder where this sort of dominance was in the NHL postseason, and why the Cup lift pictured below couldn’t have happened with a bigger, silverer trophy.
There were a few things working for the twins in this tournament. A little luck, for one, which can make all the difference over a four-game span. (It’s why it’s never a good idea to jump to total conclusions based on such a small sample of hockey.)
In addition, the Sedins had more space to work with in Stockholm, due to a) the larger ice surface and b) the inferior defensive competition. They saw a lot of Roman Josi versus the Swiss, but if they see a lot of Roman Josi in the NHL, he’s coming over the boards with elite blueliner Shea Weber and Barry Trotz’s best shutdown line. The already diminished open ice will disappear so quickly that Al Gore could make a documentary about it.
But, even acknowledging the reasons they might have had an easier time over there than over here, Daniel and Henrik’s performance at the Worlds serves to remind that they’re still pretty good at this hockey thing. If anything, that’s a cause for optimism, in my opinion, not pessimism.
After all, we heard a lot this year about the Canucks’ window closing and how the Sedins aren’t game-changers any longer, and so on and so forth. Caveats aside, they had the look of guys that can still make an impact.
“We’re not feeling old,” Henrik said after being swept by the Sharks. “We’re 32 years old. We’re going to turn 33 next year. If you look at San Jose’s top guys, they’re older than us. So for us, age is not a problem.”
It wasn’t in this tournament. As they demonstrated in Stockholm, they’ve still got a lot of winning hockey in them.Tags: alex edler, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, World Championship