Stockholm is a beautiful city – throw in a few NHL games and you’re on to a winning weekend! I was fortunate enough to be on hand at the Globe Arena from October 7-9th for the NHL’s annual opener in Europe. Hockey is back…
The Kings, Ducks and Rangers were on the menu in Sweden and the product on show was top notch. Henrik Lundqvist was the busiest guy in the entire hockey world here! He patiently stood and gave more interviews than the other teams combined, and did so with a smile. He also had a truck load of family and friends along for the ride, and his time was precious.
“It’s kind of nice to get on the ice and forget about all the distractions this weekend,” King Henrik told me, “when I’m at the rink I can just focus on hockey, and all the other stuff goes away.”
On the ice Lundqvist continued to be busy. He kept the Rangers in their season opener versus the new-look Kings. His 27 saves were the sole reason the Broadway Blueshirts salvaged a point on the Friday in a 3-2 OT loss. Without his stellar performance there would have been no way the Rangers would have gotten to overtime. The same fate awaited him Saturday as Corey Perry and the Ducks were next up on the schedule. Once again Lundqvist was beyond busy. The Ducks first line of Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan and Perry were a thorn in his side all night. Again his colleagues relied heavily on his steady presence between the pipes. He was responsible for the team salvaging another point in overtime and his shootout stops were nothing short of fantastic. Sadly for Lundqvist the Ducks would take the win on a Bobby Ryan goal.
“He was great tonight for them,” Ryan said of Lundqvist, “we couldn’t seem to buy a goal, he was the best player on the ice tonight.”
So the Rangers headed back to New York with two out of a possible four points on their European adventure. New Captain Ryan Callahan was optomistic that his club could grow on their efforts overseas and come together for a successful campaign.
“We will take the positives away with us from here, obviously we wanted two wins, but we got two points and can go back home and get to work,” Callahan said after the shootout loss to Anaheim, “everyone in this room wants to win and we won’t be satisfied with OT losses, but we can’t get down about this weekend.”
So with a 3-2 OT loss Friday, and a 2-1 shootout loss Saturday, the Rangers will have to wait a week to get in the win column. They can get their first ‘W’ of the year against their Long Island rivals on Saturday October 15th.
It was a brilliant few days of NHL action here in Stockholm. It’s a great hockey city with great fans who are both knowledgeable and passionate. Lundqvist may be their favourite son in Sweden, but all the players here were given great support and receptions everywhere they went. The NHL Premiere is a great event that brings the best hockey league on earth to the people of Europe. Hopefully the NHL and it’s clubs will continue to participate, grow and expand this annual tradition.
You can follow Murph on Twitter @MurphOnIce