After watching his team beat Sweden 4-2 in a December 19 exhibition game, Team Canada coach Pat Quinn acknowledged that the Swedish side was still probably the pre-tournament favourite - with an asterisk.
"On paper, they should be the favourites," Quinn said at the time. "Paper, you wipe something with that sometimes."
Canada will face Sweden for the gold medal at the world junior championship on Monday, and the game will not be played on paper (TSN, TSN HD, and TSN.ca at 7pm et/4pm pt).
On Sunday, Quinn gave his thoughts on the final Sunday and admitted his team has not been perfect.
"Championships aren't easy. They never are," Quinn told the Canadian Press on Sunday. "We are where we wanted to be and while you can't say it was dominant in any way, we have been terrific scoring and not so terrific on the other side."
The veteran coach announced he would stay with Spokane Chiefs netminder Dustin Tokarski in goal for the final game.
"We're in a spot where we think he's had the harder tests at this point," explained Quinn. "[Chet Pickard] probably hasn't been in in a week, so it might be unfair to throw him in."
Tokarski has looked shaky at times but has come up with the big saves when needed.
"He's a key player - we can fall back on him," Colten Teubert told TSN. "I know every defeceman on our team has trust in him to make that big save. He showed that in the shootout. I though he was great and hopefully he can play one more phenomenal game for us and win the gold."
It will be the second straight year that Canada has faced Sweden for the gold medal. Last year, Canada prevailed when Matt Halischuk scored in overtime.
Earlier in that tournament, Sweden had defeated Canada 4-3.
"You hate to say when you lose it's good, but it was the best thing that happened to the team," Craig Hartsburg, who coached the Canadians last year, told The Canadian Press.
"I think when they finally lost, to me there was an immediate response that 'We've got to be better than this to win the gold medal.'"
The Swedes remember the loss last year and are confident they can change their fortunes in this tournament.
"It would be good to beat Canada in Canada. Last year, it was so close, but this year is going to be our year," Sweden's Michael Backlund said on Sunday.
"I think they'll be extremely motivated. They want another shot at us and that's fair. We'd want the same thing if we fell short last year," Thomas Hickey explained to the Canadian Press.
Quinn's squad has not lost a game in the tournament, but they have not been without strong opposition. They trailed the United States 3-0 in the preliminary round before winning what has been branded an all-time hockey classic, and then rallied to beat Russia in a shootout in the semi-finals.
Team Sweden is quick and skilled and the Canadians know they must play more responsibly on defence if they are going to win on Monday.
"When you're on the ice, sometimes your emotions get too high and you go for a goal and all of a sudden you sacrifice something defensively. Just get in that frame of mind to look after the defence first and the rest will come," Cody Hodgson told the Canadian Press.
Forward John Tavares, who is battling Swedish defenceman Victor Hedman in the race to be the top pick in the 2009 NHL draft, said the Canadians still have some work to do.
"There a lot of things we need to correct... There's things we need to do better," Tavares told TSN after beating the Russians. "Five goals against, you know, we can't have that."
In practice Sunday, forward Zach Boychuk (lower body) did not skate, but Canada's lines remained the same.