Denmark | Group A | Roster | THN odds for gold: 100:1 In terms of worst-case scenarios, Denmark is already sitting in a pumpkin after midnight. Oliver Bjorkstrand is too old to return to the national team, while Nikolaj Ehlers is playing too well in the NHL for the Winnipeg Jets. For now, the Danes simply have to plan for life without any junior superstars and hope they can bottle some of the fumes of last year’s glorious medal round appearance. Alexander True, a 6-foot-4, 200-pound center for the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, will have to make a huge leap in contributions. True (who is Ehlers’ cousin) played a smaller role on the team last year, but he has been much more effective for Seattle this season, garnering close to a point per game for the Thunderbirds. The offense will have to go through him.
In net, Denmark returns Thomas Lillie, who did mop-up duty in two games last year when starter George Sorensen was pulled. One of those was the quarterfinal blowout against Canada, but the first came against Sweden after Sorensen gave up three goals in the first period. Lillie ended up stopping an impressive 33 of 35 shots from there on out. This season, he has been one of the best goalies in Sweden’s under-20 circuit while playing for the Vaxjo Lakers. Could Lillie follow Slovakia’s Denis Godla (and years prior, Switzerland’s Benjamin Conz) as the little goaltender who could? That would give Denmark a tremendous boost, as the team will almost certainly be fighting against relegation in Helsinki. The Danes’ only real hope would be a second-straight upset of the Swiss in the preliminary round. Otherwise, a win-or-get-dropped series with Belarus is on the table, and there’s no guarantee Denmark wins two of three there – unless Winnipeg decides to throw them an Ehlers lifeline, which would swing the odds solidly in Denmark’s favor.