Canucks Army Postgame: Canada Falls 5-2 to Sweden at IIHF U-20

The Canadians certainly aren’t making things easy on themselves at this tournament. With two days rest after a gruelling 3-2 shootout victory over the Suisse, one hoped that the Canadians would find themselves again and put together a solid sixty minutes against the powerhouse Swedes.

That wasn’t the case, as Canada shot themselves in the foot early and often, before relinquishing an insurmountable lead to Sweden by the second intermission. Tempers ran high and the Canadians were on the losing end of the infraction equation, justly or otherwise. This game may not have meant anything in the bigger picture, but that did little to defuse the situation.

As I’ve already alluded, the Canadians did themselves no favours in today’s game. They found themselves shorthanded before the five minute mark and made the Canadians pay with an Alexander Nylander marker 4:47 into the game. The play was setup by another draft eligible countrymen, Rasmus Asplund, putting the puck in MacKenzie Blackwood’s feet to setup the rebound for Nylander.

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Of note and perhaps concern to Canucks fans was that it was Jake Virtanen drawing the undisciplined minor with a good old fashioned mugging of Adrian Kempe. The two last met in the Calder Cup Finals with the Utica Comets and Manchester Monarchs, respectively. Kempe’s proven the better of the two in both contests and there’s no quibbling with the team results.

Not long after the Swedes found themselves with another man advantage and, you guessed it, they capitalized on a Gustav Forsling shot from the point. Blackwood was screened pretty heavily on the play and never really stood a chance. Sure is unsettling to see Forsling continue to do so well at the juniors, am I right, Canucks fans?

The Canadians fired back before the periods end, with Tampa Bay Lightning prospect, Mitchell Stevens, putting one past Soderstrom. Stevens skated past the Swedish defenders to put a juicy rebound past Soderstrom to get the Canadians back into the game.

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While the breakneck scoring pace may have subsided, the hitting had no such plans. One could argue that Canada set that pace in the first period, but they took it into second gear in well… the second. The even strength play followed soon thereafter, but the Canadians weren’t rewarded for their troubles.

The third period saw the pendulum swing in Sweden’s favour again. Canada found themselves back on their heels and would surrender another goal to Los Angeles Kings prospect, Kempe, on a cross crease passing play made possible by broken coverage. 

Canada would draw closer with a Mitch Marner laser from the point, good for his first goal of the tournament, but never really threatened to take control of this game from that point onward. They would eventually surrender the open net goal to Asplund and drop the decision 5-2 to Sweden.

Next up: Finland.

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  • andyg

    Every year the teens at the world juniors show how exciting hockey can be. The best team sport in the universe.
    Virtanen has zero points. He should go back to junior to recover his scoring touch while Gaunce gets a long callup.
    The Canucks need scoring and the easiest way is through the draft. Domi and Nylander put up the points while Gustav Forsling is repeating his scoring dominance from the last world juniors.

  • andyg

    I agree Gaunce deserves a call up as does Hunter…

    Jake doesn’t need to go back to Junior to rediscover his scoring touch, he needs to go to scoring areas and bury the puck. Going end to end in Junior may look good, but won’t happen in the NHL. In 3rd vs the Swiss Jake had 3 shots in the paint, but couldn’t bury bury them.

    Get down low, move guys and bury the puck. Seems when Canada plays in Europe, they start to play more European.