After a hard-fought win against Kazakhstan, Switzerland had to take on Sweden. The opponent taught the Swiss a lesson about everything that is important in today’s hockey game.
Related: 2020 WJC Team Sweden Final Roster
From start to the end of the game, Sweden was the dominating force on the ice. They have anything you need to have to win a game: offensively strong, good backchecking, a power play that succeeds and players who are simply better than the Swiss. And it showed in the 5-2 loss.
Defense Not Good Enough
The Swiss team played bad defense. They were too far away from the opponents, and often the players where a step slower than the Swedish attacker and couldn’t close the gap.
If you watch the first goal of the game, the Swiss seemed lost. No one was responsible for the scorer, Samuel Fagemo. He just took two quick strides, set up himself for the goal with a nifty pass to Victor Soderstrom, skated backward in front of the slot and got the pass back from Soderstrom. With a one-timer, he beat Swiss goaltender Luca Hollenstein in the top corner.
It was almost the same story at the 10-minute mark of the first period. Fagemo was left alone and said thanks by scoring his second goal of the game. The Swiss were like a good Swiss cheese: they had too many holes and they gave the Swedes too much room. That was the story for most of Sweden’s goals.
One-for-Three on the Power Play
One of the upsides was the Swiss power play. With the man advantage, Switzerland scored one goal on three opportunities. That’s not bad.
The goal from Gilian Kohler was one to get to remember as crazy. He swung at a deflected puck like a baseball player and scored on Sweden’s goalkeeper Hugo Alnefelt. That gave the Swiss some much-needed momentum for the third period.
Offense Not Good Enough
During the whole game, the Swiss seemed to be one step behind the Swedish team. As mentioned before, the defensive play was ugly. But there was more bad play. It was obvious that the Swiss also struggled on offense. If they had a breakaway, Sweden simply needed to skate a little bit harder and they were able to catch up up with the Swiss player. And just like that, gone was the possibility to score or to get a shot on goal. But this changed in the last period when Sweden slowed down the game and let the Swiss play.
The Missing Fire
If you watched the past tournaments with Christian Wohlwend coaching you saw fire on the bench. He gave the team energy and made them believe that they can achieve anything they wanted. The players were pumped to play hard and never gave up.
This year, this important puzzle piece is missing. Nothing against the new coach Thierry Paterlini. He is another type of coach. He is more analytical, calm and sometimes he looks a little bit like a schoolboy behind the bench.
This leads to the feeling that the team does not have enough grit to go the extra mile. Taking those little nifty checks you need to take to win the game. Or to stand up for each other and let the opponent know that if you enter our zone you will have to pay the price for it.
Does this mean Paterlini is not a good coach? Not at all. He is just another type of coach. He doesn’t need to yell to fire up his boys on the bench. He does that in the intermissions and in practices. In the game, he is the silent observer who will note the faults and positives of the team in order to teach the group what they should change in the next game. It’s not a bad sign to have a calm coach.
The Swiss will have a day off today. They will play Slovakia tomorrow and take on the current champion Finland at New Year’s Eve. If the Swiss win against Slovakia and take at least two points against Finland, they would likely end up second in their group. And that means playing against a weaker opponent.
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Since 1977 in hockey. referee for 15 years, since 2000 journalist. I did cover over 10 WJC, 10 World Championships and 2 Olympics (2006 and 2010) I was born in Berne where my home town club is. SC Bern is, outside of the NHL, the club with the most spectators. Every year they have about 16`000 per game.