Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman discusses playing for Team Sweden at Worlds

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman discusses adjusting to the big ice, Team Sweden’s early struggles, and the difficult schedule that awaits them at the IIHF Worlds.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman was recently interviewed about his role on Team Sweden by Emanuel Otterhall. Text of the original interview can be found at

This Swedish-to-English translation was generously provided by reddit user /u/elgrandeslimbo.

The Ice Hockey World Championship in Germany and France is about to begin. A star-studded Tre Kronor will play at least 16 NHL players – a new record.  The World Championship has its own challenges for NHL players.  After 82 regular season games and maybe a few playoff games, players have to adjust to the significantly bigger European hockey rink.  Anton Strålman of the Tampa Bay Lightning tells us about the difficult adjustment:

“Against Russia I was wondering ‘Where the hell am I supposed to be?’ There is so much ice I don’t know where to go.”

The 2012 Tre Kronor team had 15 NHL players, a record for a Swedish World Championship team - until now.  With William Nylander’s recent addition, 16 NHL players have accepted the invitation to play for Team Sweden at the World Championship in Paris and Cologne.  Anton Strålman is one of them, and he reflects on the weekend in Ceske Budejovice [a city in the Czech Republic where a series of pre-tournament matches known as “The Carlson Games” took place last week].  A weekend that was a new low against the Czech Republic and a tough loss against Finland.

“We embarrassed ourselves against the Czech Republic , but you could tell there was a different fire in the team against Finland. It was a step in the right direction”,  Strålman said.

Caption: Stralman scores for Team Sweden in a 3-2 loss against Team Finland

Tre Kronor has had a busy week with double practices and three games in four days.

“You have to remember that many of the guys traveled from the US, and are tired and jet-lagged. It takes a while for it all to come back, and we have a new system that many haven’t tried yet.  I got to try it in the World Cup and it is basically the same system now”

He, like the rest of the team, shrugged off the bad game against the Czech Republic.

“Of course you want to win, absolutely. But it isn’t about the result, its more about the process of us playing our game.”

Tre Kronor started slow in all three games and had to fight from behind early. Anton Strålman explains why.

“Some of it is confusion. As a defenseman, you read the game from the lines - your positioning that is.  The lines here are different from the NHL so you try to wrap your mind around it and it isn’t easy.  You think you are in the right place because it is what you are used to, but you end up in the wrong place.  That is when you get confused and think ‘Oops, I went too far. I should have covered my back’ and it gives your opponent more time. It is a reflex, and it takes time. For example, our box [defensive zone formation] played with much better pressure against Finland.  It was perfect, we did a great job.

The game against Russia was all turned around [and confusing].  It felt like we had two rinks out there.  It was hard.  Their game was on a different level and you could tell they had more players who are used to the bigger rinks while I’m wondering, ‘Where the hell am I supposed to be?’  They have so much ice to use that I don’t know where to go.  It was better against the Czech Republic. Even though it ended up 8-4, I felt like it went better for me.  We were at our best against Finland.”

Their opponent in the World Championship opening game is Russia.

It will be a trial by fire, even the game against Germany will be tough.  It will be a fun game and I am looking forward to it. And then we have the US - three tough games in four days.

The Russians are good, I assume that [Ilya] Kovalchuk, [Pavel] Datsyuk, and some of the NHL players who lost the first round [of the NHL playoffs] will join as well. It will be a fun, tough game but if we play like we did against Finland, we stand a much better chance at winning than we did against Russia at Hovet Arena - even though we somehow managed to win that game.

Notes about this article

  • Expressen is one of two evening tabloids in Sweden.
  • Tre Kronor is Team Sweden’s nickname and refers to the national emblem of Sweden which can be found on the Coat of Arms, Military equipment and aircraft, and.... The uniform of the Swedish hockey team.
  • Hovet Arena in Stockholm was inaugurated in 1955 as an outdoor arena named Johanneshovs Ice Stadium.  /