Yet another busy week came to an end with seven games being played Saturday. Here is what went down in the Swedish Hockey League during the week.
This past week, we had a single game Monday and two full nights of hockey Thursday and Saturday with a total of 15 games played. Three teams grabbed two wins each during the week; Luleå were on a bit of a roadtrip, visiting Örebro Thursday and grabbing a 2-1 shootout win. Despite the win, both players and coaches stated on multiple occations that they weren't pleaed with their overall performance. On Saturday, they opened the taps from the start and rushed to a 3-0 lead in the first period in Malmö with the Redhawks being scattered all over the place. The hot start was the foundation to a 4-2 win and Luleå are still in first place with 19 points. What is noticable from the win in Örebro is that 17-year old goalie Jesper Wallstedt played his third game of the season. Wallstedt has a save percentage of .945 and a goals against average of 1.27 so far in the season.
Frölunda, one of two teams playing three games during the week, had a nice outing against Skellefteå on Monday, winning 3-2 against Skellefteå. The Gothenburg team then went on to beat Växjö 3-2 before losing 3-0 to Färjestad on Saturday. Färjestad goalie Arvid Holm had a great week, stopping 36 out of 37 shots against Skellefteå (1-0 defeat, though) and all 23 shots against Frölunda Saturday, earning his first shutout of the season. Another Arvid, Söderblom being his last name, earned his first shutout not only of the season, but in his SHL career.
What was positive for Skellefteå was that Joakim Lindström, one of the most effecient goalscorers in the league in the past decade, scored his first two goals of the season against Frölunda. And Skellefteå did bounce back from that defeat Monday to, as mentioned above, beat Färjestad 1-0 Thursday. On Saturday, they overcame a 2-0 deficit against Linköping to win 3-2, with Andreas Wingerli scoring twice in the game. Linköping grabbed their first regulation win Thursday in a wild 5-4 victory against Djurgården, but fell back to some old habits Saturday, losing grip on a firm two goal lead after the first period in Skellefteå.
The Malmö Redhawks had a rough week, grabbing no points. A 5-2 loss to HV71 Thursday was followed up by that 4-2 loss to Luleå Saturday, and they are now in second last place in the standings.On the bright side, Ponthus Westerholm scored in both games. With six points in the books, the Redhawks are tied with last place Linköping, one point behind HV71. The happiest man in Jönköping Thursday must have been Fredrik Forsberg. The off-season signing scored a hat trick, doubling his goal total this season to six. He is in a five-way tied with Carter Camper of Leksand, Borna Rendulic of Örebro, Broc Little of Linköping and Jesper Frödén of Skellefteå for most goals scored so far. Camper, Rendulic and Little have eight games played, Forsberg and Frödén both have played nine games.
Djurgården came back from the 5-4 loss to Linköping by grabbing a 6-3 win in Stockholm against HV71 Saturday and looking at the player stats from this past week, the two highest-scoring playera are both in Djurgården. Sebastian Strandberg was the only player to put up five points (1-4--5) this past week. Dick Axelsson is one of four players putting up four points. Axelsson, together with Forsberg and Pontus Holmberg of the Växjö Lakers, are tied for first in goals scored this past week. They all had three goals each.
Looking at the standings, Malmö is the one outlier in terms of games played. The Redhawks have only played six games so far. With HV71 having played nine games and Linköping seven, the Redhawks have a chance to leave both teams in the dust should they get their act togther going forward. Topping the league, we find Luleå with 19 points. Their lead is fragile, though, with another four teams withing a three-point striking distance to first place.
This coming week, we have two games on the line Tuesday before both Tuesday and Thursday offer a full slate of hockey with seven games each.
In other news, the Champions Hockey League announced on Tuesday that the competition of 2020/2021 has been cancelled. At first, the CHL postponed the start of play but given the ongoing covid-19 pandemic, the organization couldn't find a safe way to go through with the tournament.