OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Sweden is sick of seeing Rasmus Sandin get slashed.
No doubt the Toronto Maple Leafs feel the same way.
Slashes on Sandin
The 19-year-old defenceman took another hack to his left wrist — between the glove and elbow where there’s no padding — in a 5-0 quarterfinal victory over hosts Czech Republic at the world junior hockey championship on Thursday.
The 29th pick in the 2018 NHL draft also received a big slash in Sweden’s 6-2 triumph against Slovakia on New Year’s Eve.
Sandin went straight to the locker room and didn’t return in that one, but skated Wednesday and was in the lineup against the tournament hosts.
He was then slashed in almost the exact same spot Thursday and remained in the game. Sandin wasn’t, however, on the ice for the anthem after the final buzzer and didn’t speak to reporters.
Swedish team doctor Ryan Allenby said it was clear the Czechs were targeting Sandin’s wrist.
“He’s doing fine,” Allenby said. “It’s painful, of course. It’s in the news. It’s impossible to hide that he was slashed there. Right from the beginning of the game we feel that the Czechs were slashing him on the wrist again.
“Our players discussed it with the refs, and it kept going on. We expected it and it happened, and we move on.”
Swedish centre David Gustafsson was frustrated to see another blatant attempt to injure.
“It’s the second game in a row,” said the Winnipeg Jets prospect. “We’re leading the game and they just go slashing. It’s on our best player, too.
“I’m sick and tired of seeing that.”
Thoughts From Sweden’s Coach
Head coach Tomas Moten, whose team will take on Russia in one of Saturday’s semifinals, was more diplomatic, but he decided to keep some of his best players on the bench with the game in hand in the third period.
“They try to battle,” he said of the Czechs. “They try to battle all of us. We just felt in the end when we had the big lead we’d just pull a couple of our guys.”
Allenby said any fingers being pointed at Sandin for not wearing the proper amount of protection isn’t warranted.
“Rasmus can decide for himself what gloves he wants to wear,” he said. “We can’t be playing with 1980s gloves anymore. We’ll shield his wrist if we have to. We have (time) to rest him up.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any problem.”
Sandin made his NHL debut with the Leafs on Oct. 2, but was assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League after picking up two assists in six games.
The native of Uppsala had two goals and 12 points in 19 AHL outings before being loaned to his national team for the world juniors.
Sandin registered two goals and two assists at last year’s under-20 tournament in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., where the Swedes were stunned 2-0 in the quarters by Switzerland after dominating the preliminary round.
Moten said his team will have to stick with what’s worked so far against the bigger, stronger Russians.
Canada, meanwhile, is set to tangle with defending champions Finland in Saturday’s other semifinal.
“We’ve got to play with speed,” Moten said. “We got a good test. We knew the Czechs would play physical on us. We didn’t really know if we could handle them, but I think when we got the pace going and we moved the puck, that’s our biggest (strength).
“We need to get on the Russians a lot, push them back … if we do that, we have a shot.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2020.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press