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Practice Report

Notebook: Team Sweden needs to fix power play

Forward Mikael Backlund could miss World Cup semifinal against Team Europe

by Shawn P. Roarke @SRoarke_NHL / Director of Editorial

TORONTO -- Team Sweden center Mikael Backlund's status for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 semifinal against Team Europe is unknown.

Backlund remains day-to-day with a concussion, according to Team Sweden coach Rikard Gronborg. He did not skate during practice Friday at Air Canada Centre.

The Calgary Flames said Thursday that Backlund sustained the injury in a 2-0 win against Team Finland in the preliminary round Tuesday. He did not play Wednesday in a 4-3 overtime loss to Team North America.

"Reports back are he's doing well," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said. "Like these injuries, he's under the [concussion] protocol right now. It's sort of a day-to-day situation. We'll monitor. Mikael will be staying there the next couple of days with our group. We'll come up with a plan after that.

"Our group saw him yesterday. He was doing good. He was feeling good. His symptom scores were low. But these are serious. You deal with them. You hope for the best."

Center of Attention:

Team Sweden knows it will have to pay attention to Team Europe center Anze Kopitar, who has been the most-used forward by coach Ralph Krueger.

Kopitar plays heavy minutes on the power play and penalty kill and takes the majority of faceoffs. In three preliminary games, he averaged 22:39 of ice time.

But trying to stop Kopitar and actually doing it are two very separate things.

"He's got everything; he's strong, he's good with the puck, and he's got a good shot," Team Sweden defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. "You have to be really aware of him when he is on the ice because he can score by himself or set somebody up. That's something that is really difficult to defend against."

Ekman-Larsson, of the Arizona Coyotes, knows this as well as anybody having played against Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings so often during the NHL season. In Fact, Ekman-Larsson believes Kopitar, despite his notoriety, might still be underrated by many.

"I think everybody knows he is a good player, but I don't think he gets credit enough for what he does out there," Ekman-Larsson said.

Video: EUR@CZE: Mrazek shuts five-hole on Kopitar

Power-Play Ponderings:

Team Sweden has yet to find any consistency with its power play at the World Cup.

It scored on its first power play of the tournament in a 3-2 win against Team Russia on Sunday. It has since gone 0-for-9, including 0-for-5 in the loss to Team North America.

Team Sweden knows it will need its power play in the knockout portion of the tournament.

"We only get two or three power plays," said forward Patric Hornqvist, who plays on the second power-play unit. "Sometimes you play against hot penalty killers and they do a good job. We have to get more pucks through and go back to basics a little bit."

Team Europe killed 11 of 12 penalties in the preliminary round.

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