SOCHI, Russia – In light of another devastating loss to injury, Swedish defender Erik Karlsson need only recall what occurred in Ottawa last season when it seemed a rash of injuries would derail his Senators season.
Only it didn't.
Despite losing Karlsson, their no.1 defenceman, Jason Spezza, their no. 1 centre and Craig Anderson, their no. 1 goalie, Ottawa scraped and scratched toward a remarkable season in 2012-13, finishing as an unlikely seventh seed in the Eastern Conference before upsetting the Montreal Canadiens in the first round.
And so now despite losing captain Henrik Zetterberg for the remainder of the Olympics with first-rate centre Henrik Sedin and rugged winger Johan Franzen already on the shelf, Sweden is prepared to defiantly march on.
Backed by a 26-save shutout from Henrik Lundqvist and a late third period goal from Daniel Alfredsson, they did just that on Friday, edging the Swiss at Bolshoy Ice Dome in a hotly-contested preliminary round battle.
"It doesn't really change anything in our mindset," said Karlsson of the Zetterberg absence, following the 1-0 victory against a feisty Switzerland squad. "We've just got to focus on what we have and we have a pretty good group of guys without those guys as well so we should be able to play some good hockey, even though we miss them a lot."
"Every team goes through injuries," added Alex Steen brashly, starting the tournament alongside Zetterberg and Gabriel Landeskog. "It's the same in the NHL as it is in the Elite League as it is in the Olympics, part of the job. It's [the media who] make it a bigger deal."
Even without Zetterberg, Sedin and Franzen, the Swedes still boast a fair share of slick skill and talent with Patrik Berglund now alongside Steen and Landeskog and Nicklas Backstrom firing between Daniel Sedin and Loui Eriksson. And with continued excellence from Lundqvist between the pipes and an easy-moving, oft-explosive defence fronted by Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, their shot at reclaiming gold for the first time since 2006 remains intact – if not slightly more difficult.
"I could just feel my energy went down when I heard the news," said Lundqvist of Zetterberg, who is suffering from a herniated disc. "But at the same time, you have to regroup."