Joonas Nättinen, JYP
Nättinen showed off some playmaking skills during the Christmas and New Year’s games, and almost doubled his assist total in the seven games since the last report. He now has 13 assists and a total of 17 points. His plus-minus rating has also gone up, and he looks like he is starting to get back to his normal self in Liiga play after the injury he had earlier this season.
Lukas Vejdemo, Djurgården
Djurgården continues its struggles and is still below the playoffs cutoff, but above the relegation zone in the SHL. Vejdemo added a goal in the five games played. His time on ice has marginally gone up and he continues to centre the third line with the Davidsson brothers.
Arvid Henrikson, AIK-U20
Arvid Henrikson has added another assist over the three games held over the holiday season. He still seems to be one of the defenders that coach Nylander leans on. His plus-minus rating is way better than the team’s goal differential, and that should point to the skills that Montreal looked for when drafting him in the NHL Draft’s final round.
Magnus Nygren, Färjestad
Nygren suffered from stomach flu and was left out for one of the games during the holiday season (a 5-0 loss to Frölunda), but came back with a vengeance to net four points (one goal and three assists). Färjestad continues to mix good performances with bad ones, but should be a bit more stable now that World Junior captain Joel Eriksson-Ek has returned to the team.
The European Tour
Champions Hockey League semi-finals
In a showdown between the Goliaths from Sweden and the Davids of Central Europe (Frölunda vs. Fribourg-Gottéron and Växjö Lakers vs. Sparta Prague), it seemed likely that the two Swedish teams would stake out their place in the final with each SHL team starting its series at home. But both teams from the continent put up strong performances.
Sparta Prague bested Växjö 2-1 on the road and set up an interesting game next week in Prague. In Champions Hockey League play, the combined result over two games is counted, and Växjö will need to win the second leg by one goal to take the game to overtime, or two goals to qualify for the final; something that might not be as easy as the team and many Swedes might think.
In Gothenburg, Frölunda took on Fribourg-Gottéron, a team that has been struggling in the NLA, but performed fantastically in their CHL matchups. The first period was well played, with a heavy forecheck from the big Swiss team that pinned the speedy Frölunda squad back and made them struggle to get out of their own zone at times.
After an exceptionally strong shift from Fribourg, Frölunda managed a break away and scored easily, but just a minute later the score was drawn equal again. Fribourg continued their punishing forecheck and during the first intermission the question among the people in the press section, as well as among the Frölunda fans, was if Fribourg could keep it up.
Unfortunately for the Swiss they couldn’t, and Frölunda finished the last two periods scoring four unanswered goals. With a 5-1 win it looks almost certain that the reigning champions will be in the final again this year.
The second game of the semi-finals will be played on Tuesday, January 17.
In a surprise move for the highly touted prospect eligible for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Liljegren went on loan from a bottom-dwelling Rögle team in the SHL to a top team, Timrå, in Allsvenskan. This was done in order to get him more playing time and bigger responsibilities.
It will be interesting to see how it pans out. I think it might turn out well for Timothy in the long run. It could mean that he gets to face Rögle in a potential promotion/relegation series at the end of the season, but I presume Rögle would call him up before then if that were to be the matchup.