In the final hockey game of the 22nd Winter Olympics, Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber will seek his second-straight gold medal with Canada against Sweden on Sunday.
One of the brightest spots of the tournament for the gold-medal favorite, Weber has been a force in all three zones for Canada.
Team Canada advanced past their leading rival, the United States, in the semifinals, and now only one more contest stands in their way of an undefeated Olympics and a gold medal.
The Canadians may be going for their second-straight gold, but Sweden is looking to finish No. 1 for the second time in the last three Winter Games and go undefeated in Sochi themselves.
The teams square off early on Sunday morning (6 a.m. CST), here’s the top three questions for the game:
- Will Weber and the Canadian defense help Canada win another low-scoring game? With as talented as Canada’s roster is, the team has shown they can win games in various ways. With superstar forwards like Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby and Anaheim Ducks Corey Perry not producing at all, Team Canada has won their last two games by scores of 1-0 and 2-1. Not only is Canada relying on their blueliners to shutdown the opposition, the defensive corps has been the top source of offense in several contests. Weber has three goals and a game-winner to his credit, while fellow defenseman Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings) has potted several goals himself, including Canada’s only two goals in a win against Finland last week.
- Can Sweden’s “King” bring them victory again? New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundquist now holds the second-largest number of wins in the Winter Olympics. Lundquist has already claimed two shutouts in Sochi but with his toughest test on the horizon, the Swedes need their goaltender to come up large one more time. Only enjoying an average season back in the NHL, a second gold medal for Lundquist could go a long way in solidifying his legacy as one of the best Olympic netminders of all time. Lundquist stopped 25 of the 26 shots from the Finns he faced in the semifinals, but trying to stop the most talent-stacked lineup in Sochi is a whole other thing.
- Can Canada win gold with no production from Crosby? As was touched on in the first question, no points in the Olympics for the best player in the world has been easy to ignore so far but can that work for the whole tournament? The Canadians were able to make only one goal work against the United States, but if the Swedes breakthrough the spotlight is going to quickly shift to Canada’s best forward. Superstars are revered because they can create goals or key plays all on their own; and if Canada is trailing late, Crosby better be ready to do just that. Sid the kid was the hero in the gold medal game in 2010 and the forward may just be in the right place at the right time again on Sunday. Superstars just have a way of doing that.
After tomorrow’s gold medal match, the focus will shift back to the NHL’s final weeks leading up to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Predators face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.