SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 15: Daniel Alfredsson #11 of Sweden looks on against Latvia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group C game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Alfredsson: Swedes ‘can’t focus on what we have to lose’

There’s no question that the Swedes are one of the major contenders in the 2014 Winter Games. They entered this tournament as one of the favorites to win gold and were the only team to win all three of their preliminary round matches in regulation time.

Sweden also has a history of early exits in the knockout stage though. After a similarly dominant preliminary round in 2010, Sweden ended up losing in the quarterfinals to Slovakia. It was the same story in 2002, only in that case the team that ousted Sweden in the quarterfinals was Belarus.

Daniel Alfredsson was a member of both of those losing squads, but he also won a gold medal in 2006. Given his wealth of experience, what has he been sharing with his teammates as they prepare to battle the winner of Slovenia versus Austria?

“I don’t think I need to tell them anything about that after the group games we’ve had,” Alfredsson said, per the Olympic News Service. “We are going to be the favorites, no doubt about that, so it’s just about balancing our energy the right way. We can’t focus on what we have to lose but on what we can win.”

As talented as Sweden is, it’s taken a hit due to injuries to Henrik Sedin, Johan Franzen, and Henrik Zetterberg. Without them, defenseman Erik Karlsson has led the charge offensively with three goals and five points.

Even still, as Alfredsson alluded to, this team has a lot of potential.

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.