(Photo: Boston Bruins)
A lot can happen in less than a full week. Last Friday the Boston Bruins announced the recall of goaltender Niklas Svedberg from the Providence Bruins, their AHL affiliate. He suited up and sat as the back up goalie for the first of the home and home with the Ottawa Senators that were played that Friday and Saturday. This was to be an opportunity for Svedberg to showcase his talents between the pipes after having been sent down to Providence at the end of the Bruins training camp.
During the State of the Bruins meeting in which the Bruins management, ownership and some of the players meet with their season ticket holders just before the beginning of the regular season, general manager Peter Chiarelli had pointed out that part of the plan for the coming year was to bring some of the players up from Providence. This was intended to give them some NHL experience. However, when he made that statement, even he couldn’t have envisioned the number of injuries that would plague the Boston club and result in an almost always-open pipeline from Providence to Boston that would be needed.
Svedberg’s recall was not of the emergency variety, but was of the original plans of Chiarelli and the rest of management. He joined the Providence club in 2012 and throughout the 2012-13 he would win 37 games (2nd in the AHL), had a 2.17 goals against average (5th in the AHL), .925 save percentage (3rd in the AHL) and four shutouts; all of which earned him the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Award—given annually to the AHL’s outstanding goaltender as voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the AHL’s 30 member cities.
The 24-year-old skated in three full seasons with the Swedish Elite League (SEL) before coming to the United States with the goal of making it to the NHL. His opportunity of playing in the NHL would unfortunately be delayed when after Friday’s game it was learned that Dennis Seidenberg had suffered a torn ACL/MCL and that Zdeno Chara would be unable to play on Saturday. Head coach Claude Julien had some changes to make and it affected those who thought they were having a day off.
“Well not just [Svedberg], for all the goaltenders involved – Sveddy was supposed to play and Tuukka [Rask] was supposed to back him up and then [Chad Johnson] was supposed to do some extra and not dress,” Julien said. “And then all of a sudden as we went along, here we had no roster spots for Zdeno [Chara] – after he skated, found out that he couldn’t go so we had to take Sveddy off and tell Tuukka ‘you’re in’ and tell Johnson he’s backing up.”
And instead of starting in net in Ottawa against the Senators, Svedberg would find himself back in Providence, playing in goal for them during the games held on Sunday and Tuesday. Tuesday evening’s game he stopped 41 of 42 shots limiting the Manchester Monarchs to just the one goal in the Providence Bruins 3-1 victory on New Year’s Eve.
Svedberg’s second recall on Thursday would be the sure thing and would find him wearing the Spoked-B and, after giving up a few rebounds, seeming to settle in to the job at hand and doing a good job of staying square to the players as the Nashville Predators put shot after shot on goal. In the second period alone, Svedberg would face 16 shots, though unfortunately one would get by him to put the Predators on the board first.
Predators forward Matt Hendricks was impressed with Svedberg’s abilities to keep the puck out.
“[The Bruins] had a young kid [Niklas Svedberg] come in and play net for them tonight that hadn’t played a game,” Hendricks said after the game. “And he played…made some big saves for them. In my opinion kept them in the game there early, at least for three quarters of the second, he really kept them in.”
Svedberg’s teammates were pleased with his efforts during the game which the Bruins would manage to win 54 seconds into overtime from a goal by Brad Marchand.
“He did a great job,” Marchand told reporters. “He really stepped up; he just seemed so calm out there and very poised. It’s pretty rare to see that out of a young guy coming up for his first game but very impressive.”
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk gave kudos to Svedberg. “He gave us a chance to win. I mean for his first game he looked pretty comfortable and he played extremely well.
So, was Svedberg as calm as everyone seemed to think he was?
“It was alright, it was pretty calm,” Svedberg said after the game. “There were some rebounds in the first period and stuff like that but I got going pretty good with some shots from the outside early on so it was good. I felt pretty comfortable.”
“It was alright, it was pretty calm.”
One could perhaps excuse Svedberg if he hadn’t felt comfortable; when a life’s goal is a step closer. And to get a win in that first game just adds to the experience.
“Ever since I started playing this is where I wanted to be so I’m real happy with this win,” Svedberg said. “It’s just one game but it’s real fun to get the win in my first game.”
However, Svedberg is equally willing to acknowledge the efforts of those of his teammates who were on the ice when things weren’t going quite right, such as Hendricks’ scoring opportunity early in the game.
“It was kind of a tough bounce for us off of a guy’s skate I think and it was an open netter but Bart [Matt Bartkowski] save me there, I’ll have to give him something for that.” Svedberg told media. “I’d love to say that I got it but it was all Bart.”
While it was his first game in the NHL, it is likely that Svedberg will see another recall at some point during the season.
“I like his game [Thursday night], he was good and he just showed us that he’s a guy we need to look at and keep an eye on,” Julien told media after the game. “He’s going to head back to Providence [Friday], but there’s a good chance you’re going to see him here again very soon.”
In the meantime, Svedberg will continue to play his game with the Providence Bruins with his goal of playing permanently in the NHL ever in his efforts.