When they walk into the Capitals’ dressing room on Tuesday or Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson will be carrying Olympic medals made of either gold or silver.
Thanks to a key assist from Backstrom on a game-tying goal by Loui Eriksson, Team Sweden gutted out a 2-1 win over Finland on Friday, ensuring a spot in Sunday’s gold medal game against either Team USA or Team Canada, who play today at noon.
Hopefully, Sweden’s win is enough to quiet the sharp tongue of Backstrom’s grandmother, Britt, who before the Olympics told reporters that Sweden’s Olympic hockey team has “got no game.”
Oh, and Grandma Backstrom also had a few discouraging words for her talented grandson.
[RELATED:On to the finals]
“He will make a fool of himself,” Britt said before the tournament. “He has played so poorly. For a long time.”
Nothing like a prickly hug from good ol’ grandma.
With Henrik Sedin [ribs, finger] and Henrik Zetterberg [herniated disk] sidelined by injuries, Backstrom was elevated onto a line with wingers Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson and on Friday the Caps’ 26-year-old center played his best game of the tournament.
So how does Capitals coach Adam Oates feels Backstrom is playing in these Olympics?
“Pretty good,” Oates said. “Better than his grandma thought.”
Lest we forget, Backstrom skated into these Olympics leading all Swedish-born NHL players with 56 points in 59 games for the Caps and ranks third in the NHL with 45 assists.
Like the rest of Team Sweden, Backstrom has gotten better with each game of the tournament, which should make for an interesting gold medal game on Sunday.
Sweden has beaten the Czech Republic, 4-2, Switzerland, 1-0, Latvia, 5-3, Slovenia, 5-0, and Finland, 2-1, to get to the gold medal game.
“I think they’ve had an easier draw,” Oates said. “Some teams really look to me like they’ve been trying to figure out their identity in who they play with, while some teams have been a little luckier with the magic wand, putting guys together to click.”
-With Sweden trailing 1-0 on a second-period goal by Olli Jokinen, Backstrom set up Eriksson with a perfect feed from the high slot to the right side of the net for a quick tap-in by Eriksson, tying the score at 1-1 with 11:39 gone in the second period. Jokinen later took a tripping penalty that resulted in Erik Karlsson’s game-winning power-play goal.
Nicklas Backstrom Stats
Points – 1 [assist]
Faceoffs Won – 16
Penalty Minutes – 0
Shots – 1
Plus-Minus – plus-1
Time on Ice – 20:43
Shifts – 27
Average Ice Time – 0:46
Marcus Johansson Stats
Points – 0
Faceoffs Won – 1
Penalty Minutes – 0
Shots – 0
Plus-Minus – Even
Time on Ice - 10:28
Shifts – 14
Average Ice Time - 0 44