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Sweden-Germany: Henrik Lundqvist's Shutout Leads the Blue and Gold to a 2-0 Win

Rangers TribuneContributor IFebruary 18, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 17:  Goalie Henrik Lundqvist looks around the post during the ice hockey men's preliminary game against Germany on day 6 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 17, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The defending gold medal champions got off on the right foot last night when Team Sweden defeated Team Germany by the score of 2-0.

In what was a defensive contest for the most part, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist worked his way to a shutout in the first game of the tournament.

Heading into the game, I mentioned that I was not sure if the Swedes would be more of a defense-centered club or if they would take a more offensive approach. Looking at the score of this game, I am sure you could determine the answer to that question.

It seemed to take the the players a while to find their legs as the two-team shot total after one period was just 13. However, things picked up in the second period when Team Sweden threw 10 shots on goal and were able to put two pucks past Germany goaltender Thomas Greiss.

Mattias Ohlund got the Swedes on the board first with a rocket of a slapshot on the powerplay. From what I heard, that goal should have been waved off due to goaltender interference, but the refs did not feel that way, and the goal was deemed good.

Dallas Stars forward Loui Eriksson followed up with a goal he tapped home on a pass from the Capitals' Niklas Backstrom, which came off of a series of marvelous dekes around the German defense.

The remainder of the game was all Lundqvist as he turned away the 21 shots he faced. He looked very sharp out there and as always, very calm. I also liked the look of his blue and yellow get-up in net.

Peter Forsberg, who had many eyes on him last night because of his decision to leave the NHL to play overseas, skated well. He did not have any shots on goal, but I felt that he has not lost a whole lot since leaving the NHL.

After the game, Forsberg told Yahoo!'s Greg Wyshynski that even though he felt good after the first game of the tournament, a return to the NHL is doubtful right now. Forsberg, along with former Ranger Markus Naslund, are playing without pay for Modo Hockey of the Swedish Elite League.

I liked the fact that neither team shied away from physical play in this game, especially Sweden, who used the "take the body" tactic often on defense. It may have led to a bundle of penalties, but it brought some excitement to the game for sure.

The crowd, which was split between Swede and German fans, was into it for the entire night. the loudest they got, besides for the goals, was when Niklas Kronwall of the Red Wings laid a bomb of a hit on a German forward in the first period.

I still say Sweden has enough to defend their Gold Medal.

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The defense was probably some of the best I have seen in the tournament so far, and when they do not get the job done, you have one of the world's best goaltenders, Henrik Lundqvist in goal.

I think Team Sweden will be looking for more of an offensive output than just two goals in the future, but for now, no other real complaints.

I know I went on a rant earlier about the lopsided games, but this one between Sweden and Germany was a fantastic match-up. I expected an even better one later when Jaromir Jagr and the Czechs defeated Zdeno Chara and the Slovaks 3-1.

I did not attend that game but watched from the hotel here in downtown Vancouver, so I will have game updates available at twitter.com/RangersTribune .

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