Montreal Canadiens: Owen Beck, Canada Suffer Tough World Junior Loss To Sweden

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IHOCKEY-JUNIOR-CAN-SWE / BJORN LARSSON ROSVALL/GettyImages
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Team Canada is off to a 2-0 start to their World Junior Championships tournament schedule, but they are facing their toughest test yet - Team Sweden.

Sweden struck twice before the game was halfway through, and the Canadians were left stunned. The home crowd in Sweden was energetic and sort of like the wind under the Swedes' sails. With Sweden up 2-0 on goals from Tom Willander and Noah Ostlund had a big hole to climb out of.

Unfortunately, all of their attempts to break open their goose end on the scoreboard have been turned away by Swedish netminder Hugo Havelid. Canada has only fired 12 pucks his way, but he has been steady and Mathis Rousseau has played well, but Sweden has outplayed the offence and defence at this juncture of the game.

It hasn't been a lack of effort or trying, Sweden just relies on a well-structured gameplan and they stick to it like maple syrup on an eggo. Canada has been pushing hard, and the second half of the period saw the Canadians tighten up their side of the neutral zone. In three minutes, Canada fired three more shots Havelid's way; showing signs of life heading into the second intermission.

The Swedes have been like a boa constricting any space or offence, and for the Canadians to push through their trap, it will take a big team effort. They will need to take the game in five-minute increments and try to dig away at the shutout bid for Havelid. Then building on the momentum of that, the end of the second frame showed a flurry of chances for Canada.

Macklin Celebrini will shoulder a lot of the weight because that is the type of player that he is and Canada's leaders will need to show up. There are plenty of options for who could play hero for Canada, and I would expect that Canada's best shooters will be firing a lot of rubber at Havelid. Brayden Yager, Matthew Wood and Conor Geekie can beat goalies from all over the zone, and they need to be used often.

Aside from a couple penalties from each side, the Swedes suffocated any offensive zone chances by the Canadians, smothering them on entries. If they did enter the zone, Sweden disrupted passing lanes with smart defensive sticks and sacrificed their bodies to block shots. The Swedes look like a well-oiled machine on offence and defence, and Havelid is playing lights out, they could be a real threat in the medal round.

Canada is now off until New Years Eve, when they will match up with the Germans.