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Four Nations Cup Preview: Sweden

* rubs temples *

Damkronorna forward Anna Borgqvist stands with her teammates.
Peter Skaugvold / Bildbyrån

Is it too defeatist to already have the towels on standby so they can be thrown in as soon as necessary?

Make no mistake, Team Sweden’s players, affectionately known as the Damkronorna, will go above and beyond every effort expected of professional athletes competing for their country. They’re not the problem. The storyline for Sweden going into this year’s 4 Nations Cup tournament is less about how they might succeed and more about how they’ve been failed.

As the dismal results of the past couple of years demonstrate, pure on-ice talent is not enough to compensate for poor coaching and an apathetic national Federation.

“But Sweden beat Finland just last month!”

Yes. They beat a Finnish roster without any of their North America-based players, in a game with 18-year-old Jenna Silvonen in goal against two-time Olympian Sara Grahn. Finland put 48 shots on net, over double Sweden's 22. Sweden also failed to convert on any of their five power play chances, while both of Finland's goals came from five-on-four play. Finland roared back the next day and beat Sweden 4-1 to take the Finnkampen series two games to one. In other words, this was not the breakthrough Team Sweden Head Coach Leif Boork boasted about.

Adding to Team Sweden's woes? The toll of international travel. Their initial schedule delayed their flight to Tampa until November 5, just two days before the tournament starts.

Several players - including star forward Pernilla Winberg - have gone on record with their displeasure.

Inclement Weather, Inclement Luck

As if that wasn’t enough, a cancelled flight left them stranded in Stockholm Arlanda Airport for over eight hours before they decamped to a nearby hotel. Their makeup flight wasdue to depart Monday November 6 at 1:20 PM Swedish time, but delays pushed them back yet further.

Their first game is Tuesday November 7 at 3:30 PM against Canada, assuming both the team and their equipment make it to the United States by then.

Erika Grahm’s Instagram story showing the Stockholm Arlanda arrivals & departures board with the Damkronorna’s cancelled flight.
erikagrahm on Instgram

PREDICTION

Fourth. The Damkronora come into this tournament tired, frustrated, and without solid coaching leadership. Expect it to show on the ice.