Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom will face a stiff test in his first taste of competitive game action this season.
The 26-year-old netminder, who finally proved himself at the NHL level last season, was expected to be the backup for the Tre Kronor, but with Henrik Lundqvist battling an illness, Markstrom will start for Team Sweden at the World Cup of Hockey in their opening game against Russia on Sunday.
Usually in the preseason, a goaltender can ease themselves into it while facing rosters with just a small handful of veteran pieces. Needless to say, this isn’t a typical preseason start for Markstrom.
On Sunday afternoon in Toronto, Markstrom will be facing a motivated Russia-side led by Alexander Ovechkin – one of the best goal scorers of all time – and a ridiculous host of secondary talent. Team Russia’s forward corps includes potent offensive pieces like Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, Evgeni Malkin, Artemi Panarin, Pavel Datsyuk and Evgeni Kuznetsov. Even playing behind a loaded Tre Kronor defense corps, that’s a murderer’s row of talented snipers.
Markstrom has appeared in 19 career games for the Swedish men’s ice hockey team and has generally fared decently well. He hasn’t started for Team Sweden in a game that’s as high-profile as Sunday’s though. Can he can hold Russia’s potent offensive attack at bay?