EDMONTON – Despite being labelled as "a one-man wrecking crew", Denmark's fight to avoid relegation at the IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship will be an united team-effort.
"We have arrived here as underdogs and might not have the greatest chance of winning the tournament. But we have a good group of guys working very hard for each other to try and stay in this division and I believe we will do it," forward Nicklas Jensen tells IIHF.com ahead of Denmark's return to the top division after a three-year hiatus.
It was an overzealous local Canadian radio commentator, who earlier this week described Denmark as very much a one-man team, as he warmed to Nicklas Jensen's gallant performance during Denmark's 8-0 loss to Sweden in a pre-tournament warm-up game in Olds, Alberta, where the 18-year-old Dane, back to full fitness following a groin injury, at times almost single-handedly caused havoc in the Swedish defensive zone with the post twice denying him from getting on the scoresheet.
Humble in defeat following the game against their Scandinavian neighbours, a level-headed Jensen quickly dismissed claims of Denmark's U20 being just about him and pulled out, quicker than his own trademark wrist-shot, names of a handful of fellow peers from the current Danish U20 roster that will be worth keeping an eye out for during the next week and a half: "Thomas Spelling, Anders Schultz, Nicolai Meyer, and the Bjorkstrand brothers, where the youngest of them, Oliver is born 1995."
Boy, am I glad Joel Armia didn't fall to us last year. Just screams bust to me.
Yeah, and there's an abundance of good, physical defencemen in Buffalo's new conference. Not a good place for a guy who doesn't want to go into traffic. Also nice to see the Granlund brother that's Flame property dragging the rest of the line down.
As good as Jensen is, there is a lot of truth to what he is saying, the whole team will need to play to their very best to stay up, and even if Jensen has the game of his life, he alone won't be able to get Denmark a win in the group stage. But he is gonna be one of the most important players, a great game and some luck from him against Latvia will be a great step towards staying up.
But it will be interesting to see how he copes with being 'all alone' against some really great defences. As mentioned in the article he seemed to fare really well against Sweden being by far the biggest Danish threat offensively, and against Latvia he had two shots on the bars and other great moments in the offensive zone, so so far he seems to bring his A-game for this tournament.