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Tough talk from Paajarvi won't stir the pot

by Adam Kimelman
OTTAWA -- There are five players from Sweden's 2008 World Junior Championship team that lost in overtime to Canada in the gold-medal game exactly one year ago.

One of them, forward Magnus Svensson Paajarvi, stirred the pot by saying on Saturday that if his team scored early, Canada would "(expletive) in their pants."

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper, Paajarvi said, "They (Canada) always want to be the biggest and the best, but if we score two quick goals, they will (expletive) in their pants. They have created this pressure themselves, but we can use it against them."

On Sunday, Paajarvi backed away from those comments slightly, claiming something was lost in the translation to English. He said what he meant was that an early lead for Sweden in front of 19,000-plus passionate fans in Canada's capital would place an enormous amount of pressure on the Canada players that Sweden could use to its advantage.

And to be fair, Paajarvi said that if his team fell behind early, the rabid Canada fans would make it that much harder for Sweden to climb out of the hole.

"I said if they've got 19,600 (fans) and they are under (2-0), I think we can have that as an advantage against them," Paajarvi said Sunday. "If they lead 2-0 they will have an advantage against us. That was what I meant."

Paajarvi, though, still believes his team can win.

"It is not impossible to beat them," Paajarvi said on Sunday. "If we face them in the final again, we will beat them."

Canada captain Thomas Hickey said Paajarvi's comments weren't going to serve as bulletin-board material for his team.

"I think they'll be extremely motivated," Hickey said. "You hear them talk -- they want another shot at us, and that's fair. We'd want the same thing if we fell short last year. I'm sure the bitter taste is still in their mouths, so we're going to expect that."

Canada coach Pat Quinn also dismissed Paajarvi's comments.

"We don't care about that," Quinn said. "Just a bunch of kids."

Canada confident -- While Sweden has had a pretty easy ride to the gold-medal game, the same can't be said for Canada.

First was the New Year's Eve escape against the U.S., when Canada fell into a 3-0 hole in the first half of the first period, but battled back to win 7-4. And then came the miracle finish in the semifinals against Russia on Saturday, when Jordan Eberle's goal with 5.4 seconds left in regulation tied the game and led to Canada's 6-5 shootout win.

So adversity is something this team won't run from.

"We came back in the Russia game and the USA game," said Eberle. "We're not afraid of a challenge. I think it goes to show that we came back from that (U.S.) game, we came back from the Russians. We kept fighting. That shows Canadian pride."

Coach Pat Quinn said there will be one more test today.

"They've been tested and somehow they found a way to get victorious in the end," Quinn said. "Maybe it was luck, maybe it was skill, maybe it's fate, I don't know. They were tested. And they'll e tested again. (Sweden) is a good team. Everyone said at the beginning of this the Swedes were the team to beat. We're standing with them right now. It's not going to be easy. It'll be the team that makes the less errors at the end of the night that stands victorious, and we hope we're that team."
"It is not impossible to beat them. If we face them in the final again, we will beat them." -- Magnus Svensson Paajarvi
Boychuk back -- Zach Boychuck, who played Saturday on a sprained ankle suffered in the preliminary-round finale against the U.S., did not practice Sunday, but Pat Quinn said before the game that he would play Monday night.

Also, Quinn elected to stick with Dustin Tokarski in goal. Tokarski was shaky early against the U.S., but got better as the game went on, and wasn't necessarily strong against Russia in the semifinals.

"We're in a spot where we think he's had the harder tests at this point," said Quinn. "(Chet Pickard) probably hasn't been in in a week, so it might be unfair to throw him in."

Defenseman Colten Teubert said he and his teammates were firmly behind Tokarski.

"He's a key player," said Teubert. "We can fall back on him. I know every defenseman on our team has trust in him to make that big save. He showed that in the shootout (against Russia). I though he was great and hopefully he can play one more phenomenal game for us and win the gold."

Special words -- Canada got a visit from Red Wings Vice President Steve Yzerman after Monday morning's practice.

Yzerman, who played on the 1983 World Junior team that won bronze in Leningrad, said he's been very impressed by this year's team.

"They play extremely hard and extremely disciplined," said Yzerman. "Particularly the Russia game was a difficult one to play. You're playing extremely well and you just can't shake this team. Russia got that lead in the third and for the kids to stick with it, I was very impressed."

Canada coach Pat Quinn said there wasn't a better choice to talk to his team than a player who has won at every level of hockey.

"Our tradition in Canadian hockey is so deep, that we could ask lots of people to speak about their experience," said Quinn. "He's been a winner, a gold-medal winner, a competitor, he's been on the bad side of it. I don't know if there's a better person to visit with our guys for a couple of minutes."

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