Sundin good as gold

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

The Maple Leafs are counting on Mats Sundin's golden touch rubbing off on their faded playoff hopes.

If Team Canada couldn't defend their Olympic title in Turin, having their Swedish captain bring home the big medal was surely the next best thing.

Tie Domi received a call from Sundin yesterday, right after the Swedes dispatched Finland 3-2.

"He was pretty excited, but at the same time, he's aware about what's going on on here," Domi said. "Just watching him in the Olympics, he had that little tiger in his eye again. He's been through a lot this year, moreso than ever."

Domi said his friend's psyche has taken a beating.

"I don't know what happened. His confidence just isn't the same as it was. In the new hockey world, when you're the highest paid guy and things don't go as expected, the finger starts pointing, unfortunately (to Sundin), the goaltender (Ed Belfour) or the coach (Pat Quinn).

HE WILL LEAD US

"But he doesn't get caught up in things in the media, never has, and I don't think he ever will. (The Swedish gold) is the best news we could have here. There's no question he will be the guy who leads us to the playoffs."

Sundin was in vintage form in Sweden's past two games, cutting around the net from the left side with defencemen unable to handle him, and feeding Nicklas Lidstrom for yesterday's game-winner.

"You look back over the times he has played for his country and he always played well," said winger Darcy Tucker. "He always seems to thrive on more space on the bigger ice and use it to his advantage.

"He's the leader of our club and we're going to rely on him heavily down the stretch to provide the sort of offence he did (in Turin). He's obviously been a little bit snake-bit this year, but in the last couple of games, he's had a lot of chances and you can see him coming around and getting those opportunities. Hopefully, a few of them start to go in and they become the difference maker for us."

Defenceman Staffan Kronwall, left behind with winger Alex Steen when Sundin and back-up goalie Mikael Tellqvist were picked for Team Sweden, had his own reason to celebrate yesterday. Older brother Nicklas had a goal and a gold, too.

"This was a huge opportunity for him," the younger Kronwall said after talking with Nicklas. "He was on the roster from the beginning, but Detroit wouldn't let him go (until Mattias Ohlund was hurt early in the medal round).

"I watched the game at my home with my girlfriend. I was very nervous, in the last minute especially when Henrik Lundqvist made a huge save and probably won the game. This is so big. All the papers (in Scandinavia) will be bugging the Finns."


Videos

Photos