Niklas Svedberg certainly was in the running to win the Boston Bruins’ backup goalie job out of camp. The young netminder eventually was beaten out by Chad Johnson, however, with contractual stipulations playing just as big of a role as anything else.
There was one of two ways for Svedberg to react to that disappointing news. He could have moped, went back to Providence and struggled to build off what was a really impressive 2012-13 season. Or he could’ve gone back to Providence, continued to work on his game and played as well as he could with the hopes that he’d force the Bruins into giving him a shot.
Svedberg chose the latter path. The goalie hasn’t exactly posted the numbers he did last season, but he has been incredibly solid for the P-Bruins. He was recalled last week, with the big club planning on starting him last Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. An unfortunate rash of injuries caused the Bruins to make roster moves, which ultimately led to the goalie returning to the farm club. Now that the Bruins are starting to get a little healthier, they recalled the goalie once again, and he’ll make his first career start Thursday against the Nashville Predators.
It’s certainly a well-deserved opportunity for Svedberg. He’s the owner of a 13-5-3 record in the American Hockey League this season, and he also boasts a 2.87 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. The numbers obviously are nice, but the B’s also have been impressed with the goalie’s attitude, confidence and nerves.
“He’s going to be fine,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told the media Thursday after the team’s morning skate. “You saw in the preseason games. I know preseason may not be exactly like a regular-season game, but he seemed calm. His demeanor is very calm. He’s got to go out there and just play his game; I don’t think he’s going to be an overly excited goaltender that’s going to be thrown off his game, I think he’s going to go in there and play with confidence, and if anything he’s going to want to prove himself.”
What makes Svedberg’s body of work even more impressive is how effective he’s been in a short period of time and how well he’s transitioned to the North American game. Svedberg’s first campaign in North America was last season, after he began his career in the Swedish Elite League. There are subtleties and differences in style of play that must be learned, and necessary adjustments must be made. Svedberg certainly has proved, at least to this point, that he can be the latest Swedish goalie to make the move to the NHL, and Thursday will be just the next step.
“I think he’s a good competitor, I think he’s improved over the course of the year with his experience,” Julien said. “Earlier on, when I first saw him, when he first came, he had to make some adjustments to his game because of how they played in Europe versus here and the adjustment was like, in Europe, they really make those plays down low, they like to make passes; here, guys will shoot a lot off the wings and then they’ll go for rebounds, so I think that adjustment — he used to play a little deeper in his net, and now he plays out a little bit more, so he’s made that adjustment.
“From there on in, I think he just kept getting better and better, you could see his skill level was pretty good. He’s had some bumps along the way here this year, but as of late, what I’ve been told is he’s been playing pretty well.”
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