Alexander Steen is poised to set the 2014 Winter Olympics on fire. The rest of the hockey world is about to figure out what fans of the St. Louis Blues have known all year long: that the 29-year-old sniper is for real, extremely dangerous and can hang with the best players in the world.
At the beginning of the 2013-14 campaign, Steen was red-hot. Pundits around the NHL expected him to fade sooner or later, but he’s only continued to score since finding his sniper’s touch. There’s a very good possibility that he’ll end up skating on Sweden’s top line, and it appears to be potentially deadly.
Reporters following Sweden practice have Steen with Zetterberg/Landeskog & Berglund with Alfredsson/Nyquist. #stlblues
— Lou Korac (@lkorac10) February 10, 2014
In this particular setup, Steen is the trigger man. Henrik Zetterberg is one of the top passers in the league and has off-the-charts creativity, while Gabriel Landeskog has been quietly having an outstanding season for the Colorado Avalanche. He plays with a bullish mentality that is similar to that of David Backes, so Steen should be right at home on this line.
He also seems to be squared away for time on the top power-play unit.
— NHL EXPERT PICKS (@NHLexpertpicks) February 12, 2014
All told, Steen seems to be sitting pretty in Sweden’s grand scheme of things. Erupting for 28 goals in 46 games tends to get the attention of coaches, and it appears that the squad is on board with utilizing Steen in a highly offensive capacity. While he’s garnered attention around the NHL for his sudden and seemingly random scoring outburst, there’s more to Steen’s game than simply getting open in the slot.
He works hard down low and battles along the boards. For whatever reason, he’s among the NHL’s best when it comes to drawing penalties, and for a team like Sweden that will be gunning for as many goals as possible, it could be argued that this will be Steen’s greatest contribution to the team.
As recently as last summer it appeared that the Canadians were the favorites to win the Gold Medal, but Sweden has picked up steam as the tournament has drawn closer. For them to claim the top spot in the tourney, they’ll need to score a bunch and not wilt under physical pressure.
Good thing they brought Steen along.
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