Mikael Backlund goes to Worlds: Sweden vs. Denmark

Sweden’s second game of the 2016 IIHF World Championship saw them in scoring trouble. No matter how many shots they were putting on net, they just couldn’t seem to solve Danish goalie Sebastian Dahm.

That is, until Team Denmark ran into penalty trouble in the second period. And then Mikael Backlund scored two goals, helping Sweden en route to a 5-2 win.

Four of Sweden’s five goals came on the powerplay, highlighting a man advantage that finally came alive, albeit with the help of frequent practice. This included a lengthy five-on-three that Magnus Nygren initially solved, and a four minute double minor from Nicklas Jensen.

Two of the powerplay goals were Backlund’s, both from in tight. The first was from right in front of the net, wherein Backlund collected the rebound created by Linus Omark and quickly potted it for what would have been the game winner, had Denmark not scored its second goal of the game with six seconds to go. 

I would just like to note that the goal song played for Sweden after this tally was Dancing Queen, which was awesome. Mikael Backlund is truly the dancing queen, and it is a beautiful thing.

Backlund’s second goal came on the second of Jensen’s double minor, when he collected a small rebound in tight at the side of the net and had an open cage as a result. Dahm was swarmed by Swedes in front and had no chance; Backlund was the primary benefactor.

With so many powerplay opportunities, Sweden seemed to be mixing up their positioning. It was a very mobile group; while Backlund’s two goals came in front of the net, he also spent time on the half-wall and briefly at the point during the man advantage as well.

Even though he was far and away the most active offensive player throughout the entire game – in addition to his two goals, he had 10 shots on net – Backlund was unable to complete the hat trick, as much as he tried (and oh, he really, really tried). Denmark’s Nikolaj Ehlers had five shots, and Backlund’s teammate Nygren had four, but Backlund clearly led the way. 

The 21:11 he played certainly helped, too; the only Swede to play more than him was defenceman Adam Larsson, who clocked in at 21:34. Backlund’s shifts lasted an averaged of 50 seconds; only Linus Klasen’s, at a 52 second average, were longer.

Backlund is currently Sweden’s leading scorer with two goals and one assist through two games. It’s early yet, but he’s tied for fifth in overall tournament scoring.

So it wouldn’t at all be an understatement to say Team Sweden very much relies on Backlund: and at least so far, he’s easily their best player this tournament.