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Sweden hangs on to beat Belarus


(Molly Riley/Reuters)


It was another near-upset at Canada Hockey Place, but the Swedes hung on for a 4-2 win. From the AP:

Daniel Alfredsson scored twice and defending gold medalist Sweden avoided a monumental upset against outmanned Belarus like that in 2002, winning 4-2 Friday for its second successive Olympic hockey victory.
Daniel Sedin, playing in his NHL home arena, and Johan Franzen, part of what might be hockey's best fourth line, added goals as Sweden took what looked to be a safe 3-0 lead. But Belarus, despite generating few offensive rushes and scoring chances, got two goals from Dmitri Meleshko to make it close.
Too close for the Swedes, who have spent eight years wondering how they could have possibly lost to Belarus 4-3 in Salt Lake City - a mini-miracle on ice that represents the Olympics' biggest upset since the United States beat the Soviet Union in 1980.
Belarus, with only two NHL players to Sweden's 19, tried reviving some of the magic of Salt Lake City, when goalie Andrei Mezin made 47 saves. Mezin started in goal again and made 34 saves. But, this time, Sweden - a possible gold medalist in 2002 if it had beaten Belarus - didn't cave.
The Vancouver crowd, rooting for the underdog, began chanting, "Bel-a-rus, Bel-a-rus" after Meleshko scored at 14:40 of the third to turn a close but not uncomfortable game for the Swedes into a dangerously close one. Sweden didn't finish it off until Alfredsson, scoreless in Sweden's opening game 2-0 victory over Germany, scored with 10.4 seconds remaining.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  February 19, 2010; 5:16 PM ET
 
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Next: Olympic links: Ovechkin's skates, Czechs win again

Comments

Go, Sweden, Go!

Get 2nd behind USA.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 19, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Also, why no individual article on Backstrom's first Olympic point in his first Olympic game?

I'm suck of Russia and the Alex's, lets talk Swede.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 19, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Backstrom was the best forward on the ice in the first period. If you haven't watched the game, check out the replay on nbcolympics.com. Backstrom was phenomenal in the first. He could've easily had 3 assists.

As far as Russia, I suppose there is a good chance they have to play an extra game now if they somehow don't finish in the top 4. That's not what Russians or Caps fans want for obvious reasons.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sick of Russia or the Alexes. The more talk about them, the better.

Go Russia! Go Sweden! Go Czech Republic!

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

If Russia beats the Czechs, they have 7 pts. It is nearly impossible for them to not be top 4 if they have 7 pts. Assume CZE beats LAT and FIN beats GER tonight.

USA 6
CAN 5

CZE 6
RUS 4

SWE 6
FIN 6

If Russia beats the Czechs, they are automatically top 4 unless Canada beats USA in OT and Sweden and Finland go into OT. In that scenario, Russia would be tied with 7 pts with two other teams (US and the OT loser of SWE and FIN) with the tiebreaker making two of the three 3rd and 4th and the tie-break loser being 5th.

I wouldn't have been able to figure any of this out had not JSchon explained the way it works, so you can blame him in a way for this long explanation.

BTW, yes, Backie looked very good with Alfredsson and Ericksson. He was obviously put on Earth and blessed to spend his life with world-class wingers.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 6:41 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1

And, of course, that assumes the Russians beat the Czechs in regulation.

If the Russians need OT to beat the Czechs, we're left with the Russians with 6 points and the Czechs with 7 (assuming the Czechs beat Latvia) along with the other cases detailed.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Are the Russians now ready to trade Datsyuk to the Swedes for Backstrom?

(Yes, I know, countries can't trade players during the Olympics but think about it. Datsyuk plays a lot with Swedes with the Red Wings and we all know who Nicky B. plays with all the time.)

Although I must admit that Datsyuk's one of my favorite non-Caps.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Datsyuk is absolutely my favorite non-Cap. I'd jizz my pants if we could ever land him as one of our top 2 centers. I know it'll never happen. Just sayin...

Malkin is also an absolutely brilliant player, Penguin or not.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the breakdown, tom.

Still, the loss certainly increased the chances of them not getting a bye. Let's hope they still finish in the Top 4.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

tmac: You are certainly welcome. BTW, if Caps landed Datsyuk, I'd ceratinly hope to celebrate with a woman (and take my time) rather than by myself :) :) :)

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, you make it seem like Czech are push-overs. Czech will probably win tonight (already up 3-0), and Russia will have to win in regulation to get the bye.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 19, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Also, Flash had his first Olympic point as well. An assist on the first goal tonight.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 19, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

lulz

Anyhow, beating the Czech Republic will be no easy task for Russia. The Czechs will be undefeated going into that match and beat the team that beat Russia.

I still think Russia will win, possibly convincingly, but it's no cakewalk like Latvia.

I also think one reason that Russia struggled against Slovakia is that they had no competition in their first game while Slovakia had quite the opposite facing the Czechs. That heated match probably had Slovakia psychologically prepared for Russia, despite having to play a back-to-back.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: richmondphil | February 19, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Fleischmann missed a tap-in on a 2 on 0 in front of the net.

The goalie slid over but he's got to deposit that in the back of the net.

Flash has an uncanny ability to whiff on open net chances. I think he could easily have 5 more goals for the Caps this season if he could control his nerves better. I don't think any other player on this team has come up empty on as many golden chances as him, particularly on the power play, despite the fact that he doesn't get as many minutes as certain other forwards. I've seen a number of times where he was staring at an open net only to whiff on the puck or fall to the ice after losing his footing.

He is a very skilled player but I think he's way too timid and doesn't seem to handle pressure well. I think I like him as a player more than some around here but you do have to start to wonder if he'll ever be able to take that next step.

I understand that he's put up a lot of points this season but being a complete hockey player is about much more than putting up points. A lot of players can put up points playing on the top 2 lines in this system. Fleischmann has to get a little tougher, both physically and mentally, and improve his play along the boards and defensively if he wants to realize his full potential at this level.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

see; Fehr last year.

Posted by: richmondphil | February 19, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Maybe I am secretly Czech and don't know it. Seems half their players are named Tomas.

signed,
tomasinfl1

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Right now, if they can only keep one or the other (Laich, Ovi and Semin, if it works out, being the other three 1 and 2 line wingers), I am on the fence to keep Fehr rather than Flash.

If the Caps keep Semin, and Flash being a poor man's Semin, I have to think that McPhee will keep Fehr instead. Flash gets his points and has very nice skill. I can be as patient as anyone, having been a STH back when Bondra was developing and remembering that Bondra was 27 when he broke out (Flash being 25 now). Flash though doesn't seem to have that trait though of Bondra (or, more so, Ovi) to just shoot, shoot, shoot. Someone mentioned timid. Just watched Flash in the game and he got the puck and immediately passed. It's as though he feels he is beneath the teammate and must give up the puck. I don't know. I learned my lesson with Bondra that you wait. BUT...Flash might want the big money his stats say he should get. If however he signs below market rate at like 3 for $2.5M each, then you keep him and you say his non-aggressiveness has been priced in. Otherwise you keep Fehr and use the Flash money to upgrade on D.

This is a fluid thing and I'll be watching from my new home over the summer in the LA hills as to how it plays out. As always, you can count on my opinion :).

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 8:45 PM | Report abuse

@tmac2yao

It's interesting you'd "jizz in your pants" if the Caps ever acquired Datsyuk.

On the term "jizz", apparently that's the nickname for Semin. Bradley let that slip out in an interview one day (on a day where Semin was one of the stars). So the Japers' Rink folks had a field day with that comment ever since (and keep referring to Semin as "Jizz".)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

@tomasinfl

Would you trade Flash/Alzner/Holtby to OTT for Volchenkov/Neil/?

I don't know where I got this idea... Just conjured it up.

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2010 9:03 PM | Report abuse

On another subject, a man must always be ready to adapt.

Like, let's say you had a 2.5 lb porterhouse for dinner (the family) and the bottle of cab is now gone like the steak.

(Meanwhile, Latvians are coming back at 2-4!)

OK, so you don't want to open another wine and you decide to opt for a margarita. There's a large lime in the refrigerator so you mix it and Cuervo and triple sec and Cointreau and you make a really super (shaken, not stirred) margarita. But, like tonight's sunset, it is soon gone. With more hockey to go, another drink is called for. But, what to do? So you take two oranges from the tree and you copy the margarita formula except with squeezed, fresh orange juice. By God, it's even better than with the limes! The oranges have given a sweetness! (No, not Walter Payton.)

What does this tell you?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But you keep drinking. Cheers. Let's go Latvia!!!

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

@tominfl1

Yes, quite a few Czechs named Tomas.

Another thing I've noticed. Quite a few guys named Tomas (or Thomas) born in 1984, like Flash and Tomas Vanek (who while Austrian did have a Czech father).

And Tomas/Thomas was not just popular in the Czech Republic. We had a couple of kids in our neighborhood who were born in 1984 and were named Thomas, as well.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

@JSchon

It certainly would be nice to acquire Volchenkov.

But I'm hesitant to part with any of our kid goalies or Alzner at the present time. Rumor has it that Neuvirth is not healthy enough to play at Hershey during the Olympic break. And given Varly's track record on the health front.

Next year we'd probably be in a better position to evaluate which goalie(s) we should keep. Odds are, Holtby will start in Hershey next year. But he'll get some call ups and actually play, given the track record on the health front of both Neuvy and Varly.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2010 9:08 PM | Report abuse

This is a fluid thing and I'll be watching from my new home over the summer in the LA hills as to how it plays out. As always, you can count on my opinion :).

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 8:45 PM |
------------------------
So, Tom, you got the job on the west coast? With the 3-hour time difference, are you going to be able to watch Caps games live, or will you have to Tivo them till you get home from work?

Posted by: tess2201 | February 19, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Pens got Jagr #5 overall in 1990. Caps got John Slaney #9 overall. Is that a difference or what? Somehow I want to think Forsberg or Chris Simon was first round #6 overall for Flyers that year. Both of them plus Hextall, Duchesne, Ricci I think and a #1 (became the goalie Thibault) went for Lindros, #1 overall in 91.

No matter how it worked out, Pens getting Jagr 5th overall and Caps getting Slaney 9th was a huge difference. Nothing personal on John Slaney, but he was no Jagr.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

"Datsyuk is absolutely my favorite non-Cap. I'd jizz my pants if we could ever land him as one of our top 2 centers. I know it'll never happen. Just sayin...

Malkin is also an absolutely brilliant player, Penguin or not."

Posted by: tmac2yao

--------------------------------------------

Datsyuk is in my top 5 favorite non-Caps players too but I think my favorite is Zetterberg. He's a hockey player if I've ever seen one. As much as I hate to admit it, the only player I like out of any of our rivals is Malkin. I don't like any Flyers, Devils, or rest of the Pens whatsoever.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | February 19, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

@tomasinfl

Would you trade Flash/Alzner/Holtby to OTT for Volchenkov/Neil/?

I don't know where I got this idea... Just conjured it up.

Posted by: JSchon | February 19, 2010 9:03 PM

That is a very complicated question. My cap spreadsheet shows about $1M to work with next year. We can certainly move Holtby if Varly and Neuvy work out. If we got Volchekov, we'd have "more than Alzner" for the foreseeable future at that one d-man spot. And Neil, he's overpaid at 2.333 for next three years.

I myself, given free reign on such things, would easily give up Flash and Alzner for Volchenkov if I KNEW that I had Volchenkov signed. Show me a Volchenkov signature for 6 yrs at $4.75M/yr and I will make that deal and then put Fehr up on #1 line (keeping Semin at $6.25M/yr) with Ovi/Backie and then Semin and Laich with (in a perfect world) Johansson (or even Perreault). MY GOD, to have Volchenkov AND Green...

Easy enough w/o Flash if you keep Semin, Ovi, Laich and Fehr you have 1-2 lines wingers and then you put Bouchard on 3rd line (you'd lose him otherwise due to entry-level expires and needs waivers) and it gets down to what you ahve posted for several years like was always with Orioles back in the day you must move them out to make room for the up-and-coming; which, btw, makes me feel like crap, being 52, and seeing all the kiddies become finance mamangers, except I did them one over, and got a relacation package to put me in the LA market with full pay by the CORPORATION for all those costs.

Volchenkov, like Knuble before him, is like everything the Caps need to fill avoid. I never bought into you saying Komisarek but I buy into Volchenkov if not just rental and McPhee can do the math going forward.

If McPhee needs help, he can hire me starting mid-2011 but it will be $200K/yr + relo + really nice seats + drinks.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Interesting proposition on trading for Volchenkov. I recall that RichmondPhil has been lobbying for us to acquire him for quite some time.

The trade may work. The "Vulture" is still reasonably young.

The jury's still out on the goaltending. The one thing good about Holtby is that he can do back to back games. (Of course, now that I lobby in favor of him, he loses a game for Hershey. Granted, Adirondack had many more shots on goal than Hershey did -- as the Bears defense essentially took the night off, not to mention the fact that the Bears were getting penalized right and left.)

Posted by: CapsFan75 | February 19, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Fehr still has a LONG way to go reach his potential, as well.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Tess: Yes. I got 15% bump-up + full relo for multi-year deal going forward. I will be first line LW for cost estimators, getting full minutes 5 on 5 and power play.

Several things of course to deal with as adjustment. Caps being on at 4 pm is one of them. But I have now HD package to record/playback whatever I want. So, I guess, beginning in Oct, I or my daughter must set record and then we can watch at 7 like normal.

I have lived Baltimore/Detroit/Baltimore/Long Island/Baltimore/Orlando my whole life. Will be different on Left Coast. But, looking back, I am grateful for each and every move as an opportunity to learn something new. Now, Kansas, or Texas, or more upper NE, no! But, I have an almost acre lot on AZ/CA border so this is a win-win to get me closer to retirement.

Bottom line, like I hope George McPhee is doing, I plan every move out 5-10 years on how it will turn out.

Come out and visit, Tess, you are always welcome.

Yours,
tomin_inbetween_1

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

tmac: Fehr doesn't really have that far to go. You look at what he did at WHL (2 yrs + 50 goals) and his NHL path and what he is doing and you can connect the dots on the number lines and project:

30 goals/yr/average over the next ten years.

I would say Las Vegas odds on Fehr next ten years 50/50 on getting 300 goals.

I would put $5000 easy on that.

You look at Knuble last four years averaging like 28 goals/yr and it's easy to conclude that Fehr is a Knuble-jr except he will give the numbers a few years earlier in life.

Right now, in disagreement with others here, I believe Fehr will outscore Flash over the next five years. Plus, due to service time and status vis-a-vis when UFA, Fehr will be cheaper over that timeframe.

Don't be surprised when McPhee, who plays it so close to the vest that he keeps it inside his lungs, announces they are trading Flash so that they can keep Fehr. When this happens you will turn to the loved one closest to you and you will exclaim, "Oh my God! Exactly what tominsoontobeCA1 said!"

Yes, when you have given "the gift," you must share it, which is why I'm telling you.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Greetings tominfl1.

Welcome to the Left coast. Getting used to the time difference as well as the second class citizenship will take some adjustment. We moved out to our sun valley almost 5 years ago. Have never regretted it.
Right now it is only 8:40pm. Enjoying our PVRd Olympic recordings while on our patio in the mid 60s. Only stayed up til 1am to watch last night's game.
Life is good ;-)

Posted by: AZSportsJunkie | February 19, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

AZSportsJunkie: One thing, being in Orlando since early 96, I have generally had the good weather. This year though it has stunk for the last few months (recognizing it is infinitely better than snow in DC). Anyway, I am gathering you are outside Phoenix, maybe Sun City.

My retirement lot is .7 acre in Lake Havasu City just north of the golf course. Humidity is something I'd like to leave behind.

Unlike what Bill Clinton was fond of saying, I feel your pleasure.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 19, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

AZSportsJunkie:
having a second living room outside on the patio is great - july and august are a little rough - but generally about 9 months of comfortable outdoor living.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | February 19, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

tominfl1: humidity? Once you move out here there isn't much of that all year long. Every summer in our high heat, I remind myself how we left Montgomery County with our UHaul during a snowstorm.
We use a Slingbox setup in a son's Fort Belvoir area home when we can't get the Caps, Terps, Nats, United, Skins games out here on Directv.
When we moved our business out here, we weren't old enough to buy in Sun City. Bought in the west valley not too far from the new stadium & Coyotes rink.
We were lucky enough to have seats a few rows up from the Coyotes goal for Ovie's GOAL. Have our ticket stubs put away safe.

Posted by: AZSportsJunkie | February 19, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

tom,

I'm not saying Fehr won't perform to the level you are predicting but there are a lot of players that put up huge numbers at lower levels and are unable to translate their offensive games to the next level.

There is also a lot more to being a strong NHL player than scoring goals, particularly if you're not an elite goal scorer.

Even if you want to stick to basic numbers as your method of evaluation, you have to remember that Boudreau allows for an unusually open, run-and-gun system. If for any reason the Caps turn to a more defensive-minded style of play down the road, other parts of our players' games will become more important.

I say the verdict is still out on Fehr for a number of reasons, including the fact that he needs to prove he can stay healthy (even if there is no connection between his various injuries and they were just random in nature). The fact is that he's missed a lot of games, some due to back problems which can be a recurring problem for many athletes.

I certainly hope he becomes a consistent 30-goal scorer with this team but I wouldn't bet money on it at this point. There isn't close to enough data at the NHL level to draw such a conclusion. I think you're just taking a somewhat wild guess given all the facts.

I'd also like to see him improve other areas of his game, starting with his defensive awareness. He has shown signs of being a capable backchecker but I've also seen quite a few lapses. Time will tell if he can make that a more consistent part of his game.

He hasn't shown me enough to think he'll be Knuble-like in front of the net, either. Knuble is elite in that regards so it's not a comparison one should make lightly. While Fehr has shown occasional signs of being willing to take punishment in front of the net, very few have proven to be able to do it like Knuble.

Posted by: tmac2yao | February 19, 2010 11:27 PM | Report abuse

I don't think Fehr will ever become another Knuble, but he certainly has been learning how to play that style this year. He is big enough to cause chaos in front of the net, but the question for me is whether he is tough enough. If he can continue to play next year the way he has this year, I think he could very well work out to be a force in front of the net.

Posted by: timmyv38 | February 20, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

The thing to remember is Knuble didn't become Knuble until about 30. Earlier, he was a 4th liner for awhile (like when Wings won Cup). Also, he has averaged upper 20s in goals over last 6 years or so. He is a very good player but limited on skating skill, and Fehr has him beat there. I guess the point is you don't have to be a Knuble clone to be Ovi's RW, and be successful, and I think Fehr can be that. Tmac, maybe a wild guess, but face it that's what we're doing here.

Earlier I put that Chris Neil was overpaid at 2.333. His numbers this year with PIMs suggest otherwise, but he's coming on 31 and has three more years and I don't think Caps could handle that. His scoring numbers mirror Bradley at $1M so you are paying a hefty premium for "toughness."

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 20, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

tmac, btw, most of the flaws you might find with Fehr today are fixable with coaching. Most. He has size, speed and a wicked shot. Can't teach that. He has been injury prone and we have no clue how that will be in the future (Flash also had that weird circulation disorder). He can upgrade his D with coaching and commitment. Also, finally, with Knuble, it's more than just willingness to take a beating that makes him effective. Through experience, he has learned where to position himself to do the most good. All of the young players can benefit from that. The thing Knuble has that impressess me most is willingness to be where he's positioned as Ovi is launching slapshots. I'd be scared to death to be in the way like that.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 20, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I did forget something - somewhere up there I said my decision to keep Fehr or Flash, if could only keep one, wouldn't strictly be this player or that but had to do with value and also if they keep Semin. I said that at the lower end of the pay scale, Flash is much more keepable.

It isn't just how good a player is, but value (what they contribute for the price). Flash this year is tremendous value in the 700s. He is RFA July 1st, one year from UFA, and arbitration eligible. Many comparable wingers get in the 3s. Fehr is a step behind him but will also make much less over the next few years. When a team is capped out, or close to it, there has to be a rotation of some of the older, more expensive players OUT and cheaper, younger IN. That's why you might see Flash moved, Fehr moved up a line and Bouchard brought in from Hershey. A move like that allows the team to use the free cash to upgrade the D. We could use that in a year when Volchenkov will be on the UFA market this summer.

Posted by: tominfl1 | February 20, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

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