Puck Headlines: Swedish juniors predict ‘sad day in Canada'

Here are your Morning Puck Headlines: A glorious collection of news and views collected from the greatest blogosphere in sports and the few, the proud, the mainstream hockey media.

• Guess this is what passes for trash talk at world juniors, as Sweden and Canada prepare for their epic gold medal showdown today. Calgary Flames prospect and Team Sweden player Mikael Backlund: "We have some pressure, too. We really want to win this game. I'm really looking forward to a win. But hockey is bigger here, and they're playing here in Canada. There's going to be a lot of pressure, with 20,000 fans screaming. ... If we win, they're going to be pretty quiet. It will be a sad day in Canada." [Sun Media]

• OK, to be fair: Magnus Svensson Paajarvi did say earlier in the tournament that Canada would soil its pants if Sweden went up 2-0. [National Post]

• Filatov 3:16 says that Canada is God's team. And the ever-humble Canadians basically agree. [Sun Media]

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins gets more heat for his recent actions, this time from a Fox Sports columnist who believes Sid is somehow symbolic of hockey's larger problems: "If the NHL needs Sidney Crosby to fight - against anybody - then they have a lot bigger problems than a crummy TV deal." Huh? [Fox Sports]

• Speaking of Crosby: He's at least worth a third-rounder, not a conditional pick. [Pensburgh]

• Former Tampa GM Jay Feaster pulls back the curtain on how teams research and scout in anticipation of the trade deadline. [Hockey News]

• Wacky story from the U.K., as Newcastle Vipers top scorer Todd Griffith announces he's leaving the League for the ECHL -- via Facebook. The team became suspicious when Griffith changed his status message to "Todd is getting the eff out of the U.K. lolz!" [Evening Chronicle, via Kukla's Korner]

• More about Tampa Bay Lightning Coach Rick Tocchet dialing back the ice time for Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Prospal. He claims he's giving the MVP Line a "mental break." [Lightning Strikes]

• Pretty ingenious contest from the Detroit Free Press, in which bitter Detroit Red Wings fans are asked to provide witty comments in a cartoon bubble about their players getting snubbed as all-star game starters. Although why is Bob Dole in a 1970s announcing booth? And why is he wearing so much pink? [Freep]

• "Guest columnist" (fake) Mike Gillis writes on the KB: "My friends are always telling me that I'm too humble about the job I've done with the Canucks, so I've decided to toot my own horn a bit more in hopes of someday landing a higher-paying gig with the Leafs. Kidding!" [Orland Kurtenblog]

Mats Sundin presents a fan with his Canucks jersey at a fan appreciation event. Or someone trapped Bruce Willis in the old Chinese hockey sweater handcuffs. One of the two:

• Steve Ovadia reviews "Saving the Game," by Dominic Moore's brother Mark. "His more interesting ideas include government intervention in sports to protect the rights of fans and a collective bargaining agreement that allows teams to pay players based upon performance." [Puck Update]

• The second annual Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament is expanding to 64 teams. If they actually played on Labatt, it would be better than the Winter Classic. [Buffalo News]

• Hundreds gather to remember the late Don Sanderson, who died as a result of injuries from a hockey fight. [CP]

Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Rick Nash, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski and Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward walk into a bar ... oh, wait, no: They've actually been named the NHL's 'Three Stars' for the week ending Jan. 4. Got it. [NHL]

• Two Puck Daddy readers, two new blogs: Nonsense Hockey and Symosramblings. Congrats and good luck.

• Finally, Romig gave Jason Labarbara some love for this incredible save in last night's three stars. But seeing it in action ... wow, that's a Save for the Year candidate if there ever was one:

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