speaking only for myself on this one, I say it's Canada simply beacause the media and the federation have beaten the Finnish horse to death with meanngless articles about meaningless games over and over again. It's kinda' like having X-mas once a month... sooner or later, the x-mas food is just about as exciting as the daily breakfast bowl of oatmeal.
The main rival for Tre kronor (the National team) is Finland. The reasons are geography, history, national pride and the mental issues that many Finns have developed whit big brother Sweden.
The main rivals in the WJC and on the HF-boards though, are the Canadians. Have to admit that I passionately disslike some of the arrogant Canadian posters that post on theese boards.
although this thread is leaning a little Canada, other sources have it leaning a little Finland ...
so it appears that Sweden is an anomaly, an exception to the rule, and is not like any of the other top 7 nations where if you ask anybody there is a very universal unqualified number 1 rival.
I think Johnny-R may have captured it with —
"The team I most want to win against is Canada; the team I least want to lose to is Finland."
so, would it be fair to say that – Sweden is the one country that has a divided rivalry?
Well, I would say that Sweden would prefer Finland to be on an even playing field skill wise. That makes for the best rivalry. Its like the battle of Alberta...its been all Calgary for such a long time that its not as good as it could be.
Sweden's primary international rival is easily Finland, it's the only real rivalry we have.
That being said, I would take more pleasure from beating Canada since it's a bigger accomplishment. But wanting to beat the best isn't the same thing as a rivalry, so the wording of the question might decide the answer depending on exactly what you are looking for.
I think you got it right. I would define a rivalry as a shared wish to beat the other team, not just to win a hockey game but to win the other team. When Canada and Sweden play it might be that Sweden really wants to win Canada but for Canada it is all about winning a hockey game. Therefore Canada - Sweden is not a rivalry.
By same logic Finlands only rivalry is against Sweden.