Erik Karlsson thinks Team Sweden’s World Cup blue line is even better than the one that propelled it to the gold-medal game at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
“I just think we have a little bit more experience,” Karlsson said, per the Associated Press. “Most of the guys that are here played in the Olympics and that was two years ago, and everybody since then has gotten more mature and more experience and become better players, so I think that’s why we have a better blue line now than we did two years ago.”
Indeed, Sweden may have the best defense of all the teams at the World Cup. Yes, that includes Team Canada, which is without injured workhorse Duncan Keith and finds itself increasingly under the microscope after leaving the likes of P.K. Subban and Kris Letang off its roster.
In addition to Karlsson, a two-time Norris Trophy-winner, the Swedes boast Victor Hedman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Mattias Ekholm, Anton Stralman, and Hampus Lindholm. Those who failed to make the cut include John Klingberg, Adam Larsson, and Alex Edler.
“When they selected the team, I was absolutely disappointed,” Edler, a member of the Sochi squad, told The Province newspaper. “I obviously wanted to make the team, but at the same time if you look at the defense corps Sweden has right now, there are a lot of very good players, and even though there have been some injuries, there are still a few players that are not on there that could be on there.”
Related: Lindholm replaces injured Kronwall