TORONTO — The Latest on the World Cup of Hockey (all times local):
Sweden should be as healthy as it can be when it opens the World Cup of Hockey on Sunday against Russia.
Marcus Kruger is expected to play after missing time with an upper-body injury. Kruger practiced Thursday at Air Canada Centre, reported progress and got a vote of confidence from coach Rickard Gronborg.
“My expectation is he’s going to be ready to go when we’re dropping the puck in the first game,” Gronborg said. “He should be ready, and he obviously is filling a very important spot on our team. We’ve got some stability in one of the lines because he’s a very smart player, especially when it comes to defensive situations from defensive face-offs to penalty kills. He’s a pretty important part of our team.”
Coming off allowing five goals on 22 shots, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t happy Thursday.
“If you would be fine with giving up five goals, I mean, I think it’s not a good thing,” Lundqvist said. “I tried to last night analyze it and learn from the game. I watched some tape and tried to have a good practice today. But I feel like we still have some time here to correct a few things personally and as a group.”
Former Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson will get his Canadian citizenship next week in a ceremony being held during World Cup of Hockey festivities.
The native Swede, who spent most of his career with Ottawa, will be among 102 people to become citizens Tuesday in a Toronto ceremony attended by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL Players’ Association executive director Donald Fehr.
Alex Ovechkin says he will play in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, regardless of whether the NHL agrees to participate.
Several Russian players made that stance clear before the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but Ovechkin is continuing it. Ovechkin says he’ll wait and see, adding “I will go there.”
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday that it was “radio silence” on the topic of negotiating an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic committee. The league and Players’ Association will meet with IIHF officials in Toronto over the next two weeks during the World Cup of Hockey.
Sergei Bobrovsky is Russia’s starting goaltender to begin the World Cup of Hockey.
Coach Oleg Znarok said through an interpreter Thursday that Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets will be in net against Sweden on Sunday in Russia’s first game of the tournament. Znarok made no commitment to Bobrovsky long term over Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche.
Bobrovsky appeared to have the inside track on the job when Russia started him in its exhibition finale Wednesday against Canada.
Connor McDavid doesn’t think he’d make Canada’s World Cup of Hockey team if eligible.
McDavid is playing for Team North America, which is made up of players 23 and under from Canada and North America. He wasn’t eligible to be selected by Canada.
Some around hockey consider McDavid one of the best players already at age 19, but he said Canada’s roster was a hard one to crack.
Mike Babcock says he’s close to finalizing Canada’s lineup for its first World Cup of Hockey game Saturday night against the Czech Republic.
There’s plenty of fluidity in the lineup, but Babcock seems to have found linemates for captain Sidney Crosby in Boston Bruins forwards Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. The coaching staff decided on that line in advance, and it clicked well in exhibition play.
“He likes to play with guys with speed and guys with hockey sense,” Babcock said. “The other thing is he wants to be on offense, so if you play him with one really intelligent defensive player as well like Bergy, it helps him out.”
Crosby said before the tournament he’d love to play with Marchand. He knows Bergeron because the two were linemates on the way to gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I think he’s just good in every area,” Crosby said of Bergeron. “He’s reliable at both ends of the ice, he’s got really good hockey sense. I think his hockey sense is probably what sticks out the most, playing in all situations.
“Defensively he’s pretty tough to go up against and offensively he can hurt you. He’s really an all-around player.”
Finland coach Lauri Marjamaki still won’t name his starting goaltender for the first game of the World Cup of Hockey.
Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators appears to be the front-runner to start Sunday against Team North America based on exhibition action, but Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins isn’t a bad second option.
Rinne says he’s preparing to play Sunday but that the coaching staff hasn’t told him the plan. He started Finland’s final exhibition game Tuesday against the United States and stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced.
Most teams have their starters figured out by now. Jonathan Quick will be in net for the U.S., Carey Price for Canada, Matt Murray for North America, Jaroslav Halak for Team Europe and Henrik Lundqvist for Sweden.