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Nicklas Backstrom will most likely not skate on the first line for Team Sweden. Or the second line, for that matter. Such is the fate of the man who ranks fourth in the NHL in assists, but third on Sweden's depth chart at center behind Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg, according to Brian Compton of NHL.com.
As a result, Backstrom will receive significantly less ice time than he is used to, and will therefore create less offense. Backstrom should appear on the power play for Sweden, but most likely on the second unit, despite leading the NHL in power-play assists.
The potential lack of ice time may help Backstrom in two specific areas: plus/minus rating and penalty minutes. For the season, Backstrom has a plus/minus rating of minus-five and has accrued 13 minor penalties. Expectations for Backstrom will be low in both of these categories.
Backstrom's national team, on the other hand, has high expectations for the 2014 Winter Olympics. On Jan. 9, Kevin Allen of USA Today wrote that "the Swedes are the reigning world champion and they are a contender to win the gold in Sochi."
Despite these high expectations and keeping in mind that no team should ever be satisfied with second place, a silver medal in Sochi would still be an honorable fate for a team that finished eighth at Vancouver in 2010, according to ESPN.com.