SOCHI -- The Swedes might have been wondering if their gold-medal expectations were too high had the opening of the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Sochi Olympics been scheduled for early last month instead of Wednesday.
Henrik Lundqvist was scuffling in net and struggling to help the New York Rangers stay above water in the improving Metropolitan Division. He was having a poor season not only by his standards, but even by the standards typically set for an average NHL goalie, certainly one who hasn't been a Vezina Trophy winner and a repeat finalist.
He was never seriously in jeopardy of losing his job as Sweden's No. 1 goalie, but the thought of playing in the Olympics was so hard for Lundqvist to fathom at the time because of how engrossed he was in trying to solve the riddle that had become his surprisingly erratic play in a season that appeared close to going off the rails.