Mikael Backlund goes to Worlds: Sweden vs. Russia

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):

Corsi ChartCorsi Chart Sweden

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.

  • cberg

    Since Ari thinks the Swedes got “throttled”and “thoroughly trounced” by the Russians, its probably a good thing she’s not writing about the Canada-Finland game…. (:

    Canada was motivated for about the first 4 minutes then Finland took over and it was men against boys the rest of the way. For those on the draft watch, Laine didn’t score but had many, many great chances and looked very, very good.

    The Quarterfinal of Canada-Sweden should be interesting as both teams will be out for redemption. From what I saw today Sweden’s the heavy favourite going in, but Canada has the players they just got to play hard and together as a team.

  • Baalzamon

    With CHLstats gone, I’ve been very curious about the % of team offense numbers for the draft prospects. So I decided to run some of the calculations myself.

    Here are the results so far:

    Alexander Nylander: 39%
    Matthew Tkachuk: 38%
    Pierre-Luc Dubois: 36.2%
    Tyler Benson: 35.2%
    Mike McLeod: 34.4%
    Logan Brown: 32.5%

    EDIT: Alex Debrincat: 41.2%(!!!)

    context: Bennett did 35.3% in his draft year

    • The GREAT Walter White

      What are you suggesting?

      Nylander is a steal at #6? (Or draft Debrincat?)

      Weird; I was always told Dubois was a driver and Tkachuk was a passenger…

      WW

      • cberg

        Not sure % involvement is saying anything about driving or being a passenger. It could be either. All it means, I think is that players’ involvement/importance relative to the overall team offence. If you had 1 great line and 3 lines of plugs you might have % numbers approaching 80%, 90% up to 100% if nobody scored except that line.

        • Baalzamon

          sort of. % of team is context. If you have a prospect with decent NHLe but a poor % of team (example: Greg Nemisz) you’re probably looking at a guy who’s being floated by a good team and who isn’t as good as he seems.

          Nemisz seemed like a decent prospect statistically, but playing for some great Windsor teams propped him up. I don’t think his % of team rose much higher than 25% in the OHL.

    • Juan Valdez

      Debrincat is going to be the biggest steal of the draft and will end up winning the Calder Trophy in his rookie season. BT needs to find a way to trade up or trade down and draft this guy.

    • Thunder1

      You’re correct. Per Bengt Oueffsenn, came out of nowhere to land a supporting role in the series. After its cancellation, he dabbled briefly in the porn industry, before returning to his true calling of hockey coach. Earned his chops guiding the peewee Skladvald club in the remote northwestern Swedish town of Skladvaldversoon to unimagined heights. Interestingly enough, the entire region is powered by underground thermal springs. They say fogging in the arena remains a terrible problem. He’s said to survive solely on pickled kipper (not our old goalie!) and elderberries in season. He’s risen to the top of the Swedish coaching ranks despite, as pictured above, possessing the inability to properly give the finger.