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2018 Olympic Preview: Team Sweden

Will the Leif Boork era end with a whimper or a bang?

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 13 - Switzerland v Sweden Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Background

Sweden’s storylines heading into PyeongChang read a bit like yesterday’s sensational news: the main details are public knowledge, but the potential for a new twist is ever-tantalizing. The Damkronorna head to South Korea with the drama of the past few years finally in the rear view as the heavens open, the angels sing, and the Leif Boork era comes to an end.

Top Players

Sara Grahn, Goaltender

The veteran and workhorse in Sweden’s net, Grahn will most likely start in South Korea. She can steal games and is used to a heavy workload. She’s backed up by Minatsu Murase and Sara Berglind, two capable up-and-comers.

Ice Hockey - Day 4 - Sweden v Slovakia Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Damkronorna boast some big names both at forward and at defense, but misuse and poor coaching have dulled some of the sharpest scoring weapons in the game. No one on the roster has reached the double digits in international scoring this year, and only forward Lisa Johansson did it last year — without hitting double digits in goals. That’s mind-boggling.

Hanna Olsson, this year’s top scorer for Sweden, has nine points (5G, 4A) in 19 international games, compared to the 37 points (14G, 23A) she has in 21 club games with Djurgården. Emma Nordin, second in scoring, has eight points (2G, 6A) in 18 games, compared to 51 (24G, 27A) in club play with Luleå.

Not only does this team have trouble putting pucks in the net, they have trouble even getting the shots off. That said, if by some chance scorers like Pernilla Winberg and Erika Grahm get going, it could be the spark the Damkronorna need.

Dark Horse

The entire defense corps. The Damkronorna have been saved from embarrassment more than once this season by their goaltenders, but they’ll need big contributions from the blue line if they want to execute a complete game and not scramble to play catch-up.

Fortunately there’s some real talent here. 16-year-old Maja Nylén-Persson is the future of Swedish defense. Luleå’s Johanna Fällman is a hearty and reliable presence, and Damkrononra captain Emilia Ramboldt has excelled as a playmaker all season.

Damkronorna captain Emilia Ramboldt
Bildbyrån / Josefine Loftenius

Schedule

February 10, Japan vs. Sweden, 2:40 AM EST

February 12, Sweden vs. Korea, 7:10 AM EST

February 13, Sweden vs. Switzerland, 10:10 PM EST

Prediction

This is tricky. Ever since the announcement that Leif Boork is finished after the Olympics, the Damkronorna have been playing with something like...hope? They’ll have to get through some heavy competition — like Finland, Russia, and Switzerland — if they want any chance at the podium. Frankly, it’s unlikely but not impossible. Fourth place or lower.