SOCHI – There have been plenty of surprising results at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but despite all the upsets it was the two countries with the deepest rosters that advanced to the gold-medal game.
Russia was a fascinating story because of the pressure of being at home. Finland became a great story because of the injuries it overcame. The United States picked the wrong time for a power outage. But Canada and Sweden have been consistent in this tournament and earned places in the final with strong defensive efforts Friday at Bolshoy Ice Dome.
"The Swedes are egoless," said Canada coach Mike Babcock, who coaches six players on Sweden's roster with the Detroit Red Wings. "They play well. They play structured. They don't give anything up for free. Their power play is very dangerous. It should be fun."
With apologies to Russia and the United States, Sweden has become the top challenger to Canada for hockey supremacy as the country continues to develop more and more talented, disciplined hockey players. Russia might have more high-end talent at forward and the United States more elite depth in goal, but the Swedes are churning out strong two-way players at every position.
Canada has built-in rivalries with Russia and the United States because of a shared history and geography. The final in Sochi could be the start of a new rivalry, especially if Sweden continues to produce the amount of high-caliber players it has on this roster.
SOCHI -- Sweden is short two of its three world-class players named Henrik, but one just might be enough to win them gold given the rest of the talent available.
TOI: 11:20 | +/-: 0
The Swedes will face Canada on Sunday (7 a.m. ET, NBC, CBC) in the gold-medal game and will have the chance to claim gold for the second time in three Olympics.
Finland will face the United States on Saturday (10 a.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC) in the bronze-medal game.