Familiarity breeds contempt, that’s not a phrase for the faint of heart, however it accurately describes the ebb and flow of today’s second game of the 2022 IIHF World Juniors as the puck dropped this time from the Centrium in Red Deer, Alberta. Both teams came into today’s game with star studded rosters that most certainly could shoot holes in their opponents dreams of earning a gold medal.
Russia jumped out early in puck possession numbers largely controlling the puck for the first five minutes of the opening frame however they failed greatly in doing anything meaningful with the puck thanks to the top defensive pairing of Sweden in Simon Edvinsson and Helge Grans who each blocked cross ice passes efficiently interrupting any momentum the Russians were trying to build.
Just over five minutes into the game Russia was served a hooking penalty as Nikita Novikov headed to the penalty box allowing a very lethal Swedish power play unit to step out onto the ice. Novikov barely had time to catch his breath and grab a sip of water before Oskar Olausson tallied the first point of the game from the top of the circle shooting glove side on Yaroslav Askarov who may have been screened at the last second. Assists were awarded to Alex Holtz and Helge Grans.
IIHF on Twitter: “We have our first goal in Red Deer! 🇸🇪 @Trekronorse opens the scoring on a snipe from Oskar Olausson!#WorldJuniors #RUSSWE pic.twitter.com/4rFybuMDK7 / Twitter”
We have our first goal in Red Deer! 🇸🇪 @Trekronorse opens the scoring on a snipe from Oskar Olausson!#WorldJuniors #RUSSWE pic.twitter.com/4rFybuMDK7
From that point forward it seemed that nearly every second stop in play Russian and Swedish players would meet up to push and shove accompanied with the odd face wash for their opponent, despite the near routine post play meetings the officials kept the whistles silent and let the players dictate the game. Russia’s best opportunity came near the fourteen minute mark of the opening frame when Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Alexander Pashin was sent in all alone on Jesper Wallstedt, his backhand shot was secured somewhere in the equipment of the netminder who was equal to the task.
Head Coach Sergei Zubov must’ve said something during the first intermission as the Russian machine certainly looked more connected to start the second period finding teammates more easily than they had in the first twenty minutes. Sweden’s Joel Nystrom felt the pressure of the Russian forwards and took a delay of game penalty because of it sending Shakir Mukhamadullin and company on an early power play just three minutes into the second period.
Sweden held the fort for the first twenty seconds of their penalty kill before defenceman Simon Edvinsson broke loose from the blue line for a uncontested breakaway against Askarov, scoring with a trickling puck between the legs of the sprawled out goaltender. Sweden would kill the penalty as well much to the delight of the Swedish fans in attendance.
IIHF on Twitter: “GOAL 🚨: It just squeaked through but 🇸🇪 will take it either way!Simon Edvinsson pots the short-handed goal and gives @Trekronorse a 2-0 lead!#WorldJuniors #RUSSWE pic.twitter.com/vlFPrxUndu / Twitter”
GOAL 🚨: It just squeaked through but 🇸🇪 will take it either way!Simon Edvinsson pots the short-handed goal and gives @Trekronorse a 2-0 lead!#WorldJuniors #RUSSWE pic.twitter.com/vlFPrxUndu
Pavel Tyutnev and Marat Khushnutdinov took back to back penalties a short time after giving Sweden another power play this time a five on three and they made them pay. From the high slot Emil Andrae snapped a low glove side shot past a screened Askarov who couldn’t see around Ake Stakkestad giving Sweden total control with a three nothing lead.
Winnipeg Jets draft pick Daniel Torgersson, Theodore Niederbach and Isak Rosen were pesky all period with heavy north south play finishing every check and forcing the Russians to make several adjustments on the fly to shelter their top line from being punished at every opportunity.
Fydor Svechkov at last got the Russians on the scoreboard by doing the right thing, sending the puck back into the crease from a scramble with Swedish defenders closing in all around him, either by luck or destiny the puck found its way to the back of the goal off of Simon Edvinsson’s skate past Jesper Walstedt to reduce their deficit to two.
Third Period :
Perhaps attempting to send a message to his players, Head Coach Zubov pulled Yaroslav Askarov to start the third period electing to start Yegor Guskov for the final twenty minutes. Askarov did not have a bad game but it was clear that the club needed something to change if they were to get back into this game. However surrendering yet another power-play was not what they needed.
Danila Yurov was serving a double minor when Alexander Holtz tallied the fourth goal of the night for the Swedes with a snapshot past Guskov. By all appearances this game appeared to be nearly over, however……
Here comes the Russian machine! Matev Michkov who is the lone seventeen year old on the club joining a select few who have done so such as Pavel Bure and Malkin. Michkov was given special attention all night long taking hits and receiving post whistle liberties against him, certainly he was a part of the pre-game plans for team Sweden.
Michkov would get his first goal of the tournament after a long delay by the officials after the play had settled. Originally Sweden was to receive a cross checking penalty for sending him crashing into Wallstedt on a breakaway. However after much deliberation and review the officiating crew ruled that the puck would’ve crossed the line if he had been uninterrupted on the play awarding Michkov his first goal of the night.
Lady luck followed him once again as Michkov drove to the net again looking for a rebound when teammate Nikita Smirnov threw the puck out front hitting Michkov on the hip and into the goal past a bewildered team Sweden. Russia suddenly found themselves back in the game down by just one.
Theodore Niederbach from Daniel Torgersson would insulate the Swedish lead late in the third period beating Guskov who was later pulled in favour of an extra skater. Daniel Ljungman sealed the night with an empty net goal making the final score six to three for team Sweden.
IIHF on Twitter: “GOAL🚨: The two-goal lead is restored!Theodor Niederbach sneaks it through the pads of Guskov to give @Trekronorse a 5-3 lead!#WorldJuniors #RUSSWE / Twitter”
GOAL🚨: The two-goal lead is restored!Theodor Niederbach sneaks it through the pads of Guskov to give @Trekronorse a 5-3 lead!#WorldJuniors #RUSSWE
Special teams are a must for Russian to work on between this game and their next as they failed largely to keep the puck out of their goal when shorthanded.
Sweden’s next game is December 27th against team Slovakia while Russia prepares to face team Switzerland as well on the 27th. Can Russia recover before its too late? Is Sweden the real deal? Tune into coverage of the upcoming games right here!