SOCHI, Russia – A reporter suggested to Swedish star Daniel Alfredsson Thursday that his country's winning ways in men's hockey might be the best-kept secret at the Sochi Olympics.
"Let's keep it that way," Alfredsson said.
That's an impossible task now that Sweden has downed Finland 2-1 to earn a place in Sunday's gold medal game against either the USA or Canada. Those two teams meet Friday night in the other semifinal.
The Swedes have run off five consecutive wins, all in regulation, to reach the gold medal game for the second time in the past three Olympics. The Swedes won gold in 2006.
Three weeks ago, the Swedes were considered one of the tournament medal favorites, but that changed after Henrik Sedin announced he couldn't play because of a rib injury and Henrik Zetterberg pulled out after one game in Sochi because of a back problem.
With those two difference-makers sidelined, the expectations for the Swedes were softened. But the expected dip in the Swedes' performance level never happened.
They have now outscored the opposition 17-6 while displaying a determined playing style that will keep them competitive in the gold medal game. Their defense is efficient, and their offense is still effective, despite the loss of the two stars.
The Swedes seemingly caught a break in the semifinal when Finland's No. 1 goalie, Tuukka Rask, couldn't play because of illness. However, he was replaced by Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who was solid.