The bad news: Team Sweden got thoroughly trounced by Team Russia, throttled by a final score of 4-1.
Their one goal, courtesy of Mattias Ekholm, was a garbage gimme at the start of the third period when the Swedes were already down 4-0, though they performed much better in the third period. That wasn’t even close to enough, though, and the Swedes will face Team Canada in the quarterfinals on May 19.
The good news: Mikael Backlund wasn’t injured. He got himself into some trouble early in the second period, but fortunately, there weren’t any retaliatory actions taken.
At the very start of the second period – we’re talking right after the opening faceoff – Backlund checked Evgeny Kuznetsov in the head. The two were facing off against one another, and upon immediate pursuit of the puck into the Swedish zone, Backlund interfered with Kuznetsov, which just so happened to involve his shoulder driving into Kuznetsov’s head.
Kuznetsov stayed down for a while, but eventually returned to the game. Backlund was not penalized on the play. He actually stayed out for the next faceoff – before the Russians were penalized for a faceoff violation. At this point, he returned to the bench, and did not play the ensuing shift.
So. It’s probably fair to say Backlund was not the most popular guy in Russia over those few minutes. When he next came back on the ice, things seemed to have sufficiently calmed down (although the Russians were probably pretty happy to have such a large lead, so that may have helped things).
Although it’s worth noting that Backlund was an important player for parts of Sweden’s pushback in the third, including a pretty intense net drive – and some of his physicality did get him a warning. No penalties, but he was skating on thin ice.
Just as this game was easily Sweden’s worst of the tournament, it was Backlund’s, as well. For the first time, he went without a single shot on net; he also failed to reach the 20-minute mark, playing just 18:16 (though he still led all Swedish forwards in ice time). Probably the only good thing to mention about his performance was he was not on the ice for any goals against.
Through the preliminaries
With seven games played by each of the teams, the round robin is officially in the books.
Backlund finished with three goals and one assist. His four points were good for a four-way tie for fourth in team scoring, though he went the final three games (as well as the game against the Czechs) without a point. His assist came against Latvia, he had two goals against Denmark (in which he was named Sweden’s player of the game), and his final goal came against Kazakhstan.
Backlund had 28 shots on net which led the Swedes, and was tied for the fifth most in all players throughout the tournament. He averaged 21:10 a game, which was third on the team; he was the only Swedish forward to average more than 20 minutes a game in the round robin.
Via The Hockey Ninja, here is Team Sweden’s corsi chart (minus the game against Russia, which isn’t going to do any of them any favours):
Backlund can be found having played a more defensive role throughout the tournament, often facing off against the opposing team’s top players. He performed relatively well – he wasn’t a top possession player for Sweden, but he was a positive one, who had a modest offensive contribution and was rarely on the ice for goals against, while playing in all situations.