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World Junior Hockey Championships 2013: Sweden Beat Latvia, Russia Crushes Germany

Today was a light day in the round robin part of the tournament with only two games being played: Sweden-Latvia and Russia-Germany.

Richard Wolowicz

It's been one of the lighter days of the tournament with only two games being played and both of them being very lopsided. Sweden managed to get over the difficulties they suffered against the Swiss and scored 5 goals to easily put them past Lativa 5-1. The hosts Russia dominated a German side that had very few chances and eventually shut them out 7-0.

The Sweden game was much closer than the scoreline would make it seem, their last three goals were all in the third period, and they had huge trouble during the second in scoring. The number of times that the puck hit the iron and bounced away from the Latvian net was quite high and it appeared that they were just suffering from bad luck. Considering the number of shots they have had this tournament and the number of goals they have scored their shooting percentage is way down on what a team of the quality of Sweden should be. However closer to the end of the game it appeared that they were finally beginning to put their chances in the back of the net. One of the more beautiful goals of the game was scored by 2013 draft eligible Alexander Wennberg to make it 5-1. If you can find the highlights I'd advise you go and watch it because its a stunning snipe from just inside the blueline.

One positive for the Swedish team was that despite Filip Forsberg inability to score himself, his shots appeared to gravitate towards the Latvian goal bars, he was able to assist on the two goals by 2013 draft eligible Viktor Arvidsson that broke the dam in the third period for Sweden. In general those Swedish forwards who have struggled in the past couple of games are beginning to get back to form, even if the top line has yet to click properly offensively.

The biggest standout in my, admittedly slightly biased, opinion was the Dallas Stars' prospect Emil Molin. For those who haven't been able to see the last two games in particular he is one of the most notable forwards on the ice for the Swedish team and its very evident that he has excellent chemistry with Montreal Canadiens prospect Sebastian Collberg and 2013 draft eligible Elias Lindholm. Emil Molin was all over the ice, in a good way, going after the puck, passing, cutting off shooting and passing lanes and shooting the puck. He's taken up a position on the Swedish's top powerplay unit and its not a surprise that his goal came from the powerplay. At one point I was very impressed when he managed to evade at least two, maybe three, Latvian players in a scrum along the boards behind the Latvian net regain the puck and pass it to Lindholm for a brilliant chance that was just saved. It's been the first time I've been able to see him play for extended periods of time and he has impressed me. I do think though he could produce more in the Elitserien if he was able to get more ice time at Byrnas. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if he ended up making a move to North America for next season.

Emil Molin currently has four points through three games for Sweden, 1 goal and 3 assists, all on the powerplay. This is good enough to put him joint top in points for Sweden with linemate Sebastian Collberg. This is good enough to put him 8th overall in scoring so far. However Sweden has played one more game than other top teams like the USA, Canada and Finland.

The hosts Russia faced off against Germany later in the day and it was a brutally one sided game. Russia has some of the best offensive players in the tournament and in particular Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov was pretty astonishing to watch. Grigorenko's line dominated both with offensive chances but also physically. Though the Germans do have some pretty impressive forwards in Tobias Rieder and Leon Draisitl they were no match for the Russians. Especially with the excellent goaltending that the Russians have at their disposal in the form of Andrei Vasilevski. I wasn't able to catch huge parts of this game but it was quite clear that this was always going to be a blow out victory for the Russians in front of an excited home crowd.