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Photo Credit: Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

Backlund wins gold, Gaudreau nets bronze at Worlds

On a shockingly busy Sunday in the hockey world – with international action coinciding with the Western Conference Final and Memorial Cup round robin – the 2018 edition of the IIHF World Hockey Championship was capped off in Copenhagen, Denmark. A pair of prominent Calgary Flames forwards left the event with some hardware, including one capturing an elusive gold medal.

Sweden beats Switzerland in a shootout for gold

Captained by Flames center Mikael Backlund, Sweden capped off a sterling tournament with a tightly-checked 3-2 shootout victory over Switzerland. The Swedes never had a lead, but were effective in reeling in the Swiss every time they scored: they trailed for roughly 11 minutes of the entire game and generated more shots and scoring chances. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Filip Forsberg scored in the shootout to cement the gold medal.

Backlund played a ton for Sweden, amassing more ice-time than any forward not named Forsberg – and more ice-time in overtime than any Swedish forward. He never hit the scoresheet, but he was his usual Backlund self: managing the puck, taking key face-offs, and generally playing a smart 200-foot game.

The gold medal is Backlund’s first in 10 major international events for Sweden and his seventh international medal overall:

  • Bronze at the 2007 Under-18 Worlds
  • Silver at the 2008 World Juniors
  • Silver at the 2009 World Juniors
  • Bronze at the 2010 World Championship
  • Silver at the 2011 World Championship
  • Bronze at the 2014 World Championship

United States edges Canada for bronze

The bronze medal game had good news and bad news for the Flames faithful. The good news is that Johnny Gaudreau captured bronze at the Worlds, as the Americans bounced back from a tough loss to Sweden in the semi-final round to generally flummox the Canadian attack. Gaudreau didn’t hit the scoresheet, but played fairly well.

The bad news is that new Flames bench boss Bill Peters saw his star-studded forward group gradually wilt and fail to generate much offense as the games got more important. Curtis McElhinney was perfectly fine in the Canadian net, but he didn’t bail Canada out enough to give them any kind of boost on the back end.

The bronze is Gaudreau’s second international medal, following a gold captured with the American World Junior entry in 2013. Flames backup netminder David Rittich and the Czech Republic finished seventh overall.

  • BringtheFire 2.0

    Wait…so the new unproven coach is losing important games and he hasn’t even put the Flames pin on yet?

    My my. Could be in for another long couple of years.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        No it isn’t. But that forward group? The goaltending wasn’t THAT bad.

        I believe Rebar knew he had a lot of eyes on him this tourney and he cracked under the pressure. Maybe he didn’t, but I don’t think he should be let off the hook at ALL.

        Isn’t coaching the thing we love criticizing the most here?

        • The GREAT WW

          Hard to blame that on Rebar; That team had Oiler stink all over it.
          Perennial losers……

          Let’s pick some strong assistant coaches and get this party started!

          WW

          • Derzie

            What’s this nickname? The man hasn’t earned being called by his first name let alone a name that makes no sense. Rebar? Iron support? How does that apply? Also, no excuses for losing at the worlds. It played out exactly as feared: underachieving, listless team, can’t score. Just as he was described in his Carolina days. GG 2.0 with extra bark.

        • oilcanboyd

          BTF2.0 or is it Oil4.0? The oiler contigent played their usual when the games counted…awful. McD had a terrible give away which lead to the first USA goal..andit went from there.

        • Stu Gotz

          So “we can be in for a long couple of years” because Peters was losing important games??? Seriously how important are these games? So when Peters loses his first exhibition game with the Flames soon what will be your comment? Get real man…go and enjoy our summer….

          • BringtheFire 2.0

            @Stu

            Why do you think Rebar has a better chance at success than Gully had? And to answer your questions (in order):

            Yes(in part), very important, I don’t know what my comment will be because I don’t know if he’s going to lose an exhibition game and I am already having a BLAST this summer, thanks.

            And I’m the realest mothertrucker on this site, bruh.

        • Stu Gotz

          You are going to have a long season….game 1 has not even been played and you are on Peters already…nothing like judging a coach based on results with the organization that hired him…..go for a walk mothertrucker before the snow comes down….

          • BringtheFire 2.0

            @Stu

            But it was okay to rag on Gully for the same reasons? Also, I’ll be a bit louder, ’cause apparently you didn’t hear my question:

            WHY DO YOU THINK REBAR WILL BE BETTER THAN GULLY?

            Tell me!! I’d love to get on board!!!

        • FLT

          Better coach or not, I think he’ll have better results than GG.

          More of a hardass approach will result in increased resiliency and consistent effort from the younger players.

          A more structured defensive game will result in fewer errors.

          The team underachieved last year, so a new year with a new, more demanding personality at the helm will result in a rebound.

          Peters achieved the same with a lesser group in Carolina, and in a tougher division.

          Just my thoughts.

      • Bringthetrashes 2.0

        BTF 2.0 is a narrow minded pampas ass hat that enjoys going against what others believe in an attempt to troll and pump his own deflated tires. Ultimate key board warrior. Peter’s will do fine here as long as BT can add the pieces he needs.

        • Kevin R

          My thoughts exactly. Sometimes he posts reasonable comments & gets trashed & I couldnt understand why the venom for the guy. But I read his posts on this & I really question if he’s even a Flame fan. Hindsight says Tre should have never hired GG. Peters has way more coaching pedigree & if he cant figure it out whatever. I liked what BP did with a very young talented D core in Carolina.Kinda what is about to happen here. Wish I could GIFF some of the goals Darling let in last year, Carolina had horrible goaltending. They also didnt have many high end forwardsn cause the ran their team 15 million cap spending below us. 15 mill would get you a Gaudreau, Monahan & Backlund equivalent players into their top 6. I think Carolina would have made the playoffs with those additions alone.

      • BringtheFire 2.0

        Nah, given the candidates available and Tre admitting he didn’t look at anyone else, this looks like a poor hire. I see no real reason to think Rebar will have success. Does anyone else?

        Least Gully had a winning record when he was hired.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Wow Backlund has come along way in International hockey. He was snubbed by his country for many years and now he captains them to a Gold medal.

  • Speed Kills

    Well, this is a nice feather in the cap for Backlund.
    As for Peter’s team finishing fourth…. not thrilled with that but lets just wait and see, the NHL is a much different monster than an international tournament like the worlds.

  • Jumping Jack Flash

    Vegas is the perfect example of a hard working tenacious team that has the right amount of skill and speed spearheaded by a coach that players will go to war. The misfit toys clearly are more than the sum of its parts. Starting in net, MAF is playing like the top goalie in the league. We could have had him for a first but it seemed like his career was on the downswing.

    The D is much less heralded than the Flames with much better positional play and speed. They rarely face odd man rushes yet their D is always activated. They don’t possess a Dougie Hamilton or Brodie… they have no soft players.

    Their forwards start with the first line that have a playmaker in Smith and 2 natural goal scorers in Karlsson and Marchessault. The other 9 forwards are very capable of scoring while being defensively responsible.

    The are a fun team to watch that has won me over with the effort the put forth. The Jets have built a fast team but even they looked slow compared to Vegas. Vegas’s relentless style only works with these type of players. Calgary handled Vegas in a nothing game and self destructed in another game that they were in control. Suddenly losing to Vegas the way we did is less embarrassing. Beating them now becomes the standard.

    • freethe flames

      Vegas is an interesting team led by a very good veteran goalie. They are well coached and have good depth something that BT needs to develop. Our top 3 forwards are in the same category and we have some middle pieces that are comparable but our bottom 3/4 are not nearly good enough. Another top 6 forward will help but so would a couple of upgrades from the bottom up. And yes WW I would consider looking at Reeves at a 13./14th forward.

  • freethe flames

    Congrats to both of Backs and Johnny. Now it’s time for BP to focus on the Flames. He and BT need to hire the AC’s and get on with the work. I’m not overly worried about what happens next until then. Get this done. Then lets see who can be added from the Euro and NCAA free agents; if any. Then sign your own guys RFA’s and make the needed trades. July 1st will come soon enough to see how they build this team going forward. Each of us fans have our own views but in the end it is up to BT to give BP the players he needs to be successful. By the end of this week we should know something. Enjoy Victoria Day Monday.

  • Off the wall

    Nice to see Backlund finally get the Gold.
    After watching the Swiss I don’t feel as bad about Canada losing.
    The Swiss must have blocked 900 shots from the Swedes.
    How it even got to a shootout is beyond me. But congrats to the Swiss on a great tournament!

    I’m all in on Vegas. I hope they win it all and Engelland hoists the Cup. They deserve to be in this position and I couldn’t be happier for them. It just goes to show how a close bunch can overcome the odds and play as a unified team.

  • Jimmyhaggis

    Vegas are where they are because of outstanding goaltending. If you want to win the cup you have to start with a very good goalie, like football teams need a good quarterback, baseball, good pitching.
    Goaltending is a position the Flames must address, but I don’t think they have that guy in the system, and finding one available by trade would be difficult, unless you get lucky. Good luck BT.

    • oilcanboyd

      Vegas also has the best transition game in the league – from Defense to Offense back to Defense. And their speed helped them bury any mistakes made by the Peggers..