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Rough Season For Swedish Goaltenders

So far during the 2014-15 season we have seen 10 Swedish goaltenders on the ice in the NHL. Sure, it’s impressive that a country of about 10 million people can produce so many NHL players (Sweden is third after Canada and the United States in number of players in the league), but it has been a far from stellar season for the Swedish netminders. Only a few can hold their heads up high. Let’s take a look at all 10 of them and how their season has been up until now.

 

Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers)

Henrik Lundqvist is not only the King of Manhattan, he’s also the undisputed King of all Swedish goaltenders. With 25 wins in 39 starts and a 2.25 GAA and a .922 save percentage no one can complain about Lundqvist season. He was a bit slow to get started, similar to last year, but he has once again showed that he’s one of the better goalies in the world. He’s been missing time with a neck injury, but should be back soon.

“Henke” was phenomenal in the playoffs last season and the Rangers are hoping to get another royal performance from Lundqvist. Hopefully for the Rangers fans he will be back on the ice soon and pick up right where he left off.

 

Jhonas Enroth (Buffalo Sabres & Dallas Stars)

Enroth had the misfortune of starting off 2014-15 with the Buffalo Sabres. It’s not an easy task trying to protect the net for the Sabres, and despite standing on his head on numerous occasions, his numbers suffered because of the poor overall play by the guys in front of him.

Enroth had 13 victories in 37 games for the Sabres with a GAA of 3.27 and a .903 save percentage. Not the best of numbers, but what can you expect from a goalie that was hung out to dry pretty much every single night?

He got moved to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Anders Lindback, but Enroth seems to be having some trouble adjusting to the Western Conference and in seven games with the Stars, he only has a single victory and his numbers are slightly worse (3.35 GAA and .873 save percentage) than in Buffalo.

 

Eddie Lack (Vancouver Canucks)

Eddie Lack is one of the goalies on this list that can look back and be proud of his season so far. He has come in and played well for the Canucks since Ryan Miller got injured. “The Stork” has 12 wins in 24 starts with a 2.38 GAA and .921 in save percentage. Lack has stepped up and played brilliantly when the Canucks defense has abandoned him in front of net, so he has showed his athleticism numerous times.

Lack seems to be ready for a starting role, but it’s unlikely that he will get that opportunity as long as Ryan Miller is in Vancouver. But if he keeps this up he will surely put a lot of pressure on Miller.

 

Robin Lehner (Ottawa Senators)

This was the season where Lehner was supposed to take that next step and become if not the clear number one, then at least the 1A option for the Senators. They signed both him and Craig Anderson to new deals in the summer. Lerner has had a very disappointing season and then got injured on top of that. Anderson also suffered an injury and in their place, the feel good story of the season, Andrew Hammond has come in and played lights out hockey. Lehner has nine wins in 24 starts and a 3.05 GAA and a .905 save percentage.

We’ll see what happens in the offseason, but with the incredible play by Hammond, either Lehner or Anderson could be on the way out of Ottawa.

 

Niklas Svedberg (Boston Bruins)

It’s not easy being the backup to Tuukka Rask in Boston as he plays a vast majority of the games. The Finnish net minder is clearly the number one choice for the Bruins, so it must be a tough ask for any backup in a team like that to come in and perform when you only get a game every two to three weeks. Svedberg has seven wins in 14 starts and a 2.32 GAA and .920 save percentage.

It’s hard to judge Svedberg on such a small sample size, but he’s still relatively young for being a goalie (25). Under the circumstances he’s had a good season. Boston are not the Boston of old and the defense has been shaky at times during the season, so combine that with Rask’s heavy workload and there’s not any reason for giving flack to Svedberg for his play. He could use a change of scenery in order to get more playing time.

 

Viktor Fasth (Edmonton Oilers)

Fasth, just like the Oilers in general, has had an awful season. It’s extremely difficult to perform on such a poor team, but six wins in 24 starts and a 3.41 GAA and a .888 save percentage is just terrible. Edmonton seems to be a death sentence for goaltenders and we’ve seen a number of them move on and become solid keepers elsewhere (Devan Dubnyk), so I bet that Fasth can wait until summer comes around and he can leave Edmonton.

It’s almost impossible to gauge Fasth’s ability, but he showed so much potential during the 2012/2013 season when he was with the Anaheim Ducks. He’s a pending UFA and I highly doubt that he will sign a new deal with the Oilers. He might not be a starter, but on the right team I believe he can be a very solid backup. He turns 33 in August, so he’ll most likely sign a one- or two-year deal.

 

Jonas Gustavsson (Detroit Red Wings)

“The Monster,” when he’s healthy, is a very capable backup. The problem is that he keeps having injury problems. He’s only has six starts this season and has three wins and a 2.56 GAA and a .911 save percentage, which a decent numbers for a backup. With the emergence of Petr Mrazek, Gustavsson could be on his way out as his contract expires after this year.

As long as he can stay healthy, Gustavsson could be a good addition to a lot of teams in the league. Can get in the zone and just dominate games, but general managers and scouts will take the injury history in consideration when looking at Gustavsson as an option.

 

Anders Lindback (Dallas Stars & Buffalo Sabres)

When Lindback got traded to the Sabres, a lot of people saw it as the perfect move for Buffalo to make in order to win the tank war and secure that bottom place in the standings. Lindback had a tough time in Dallas with two wins in 10 games and a 3.71 GAA combined with a .875 save percentage. Those are some horrific numbers for any goalie in the league, and I was sure that it would continue on the same road when he got to Buffalo.

Boy was I wrong.

Lindback has had a miracle start to his Buffalo career with a 2.41 GAA and an impressive .934 save percentage. Sure, it has only resulted in a 1-3-2 record but his level up play has been phenomenal. His contract expires at the end of the season and we’ll see if he will sign a new deal in Buffalo or if he can find a job with another team. Seeing what Sean Burke did with Dubnyk in Arizona, Lindback could be a good fit in a backup role to Mike Smith.

 

Anton Forsberg (Columbus Blue Jackets)

Forsberg has been playing well in the AHL for the Springfield Falcons, but his first taste of NHL hockey has not been a time to remember. Not a single win in five starts and 4.69 GAA and a .866 in save percentage it can only get better from here on out.

At only 22-years old, there’s still plenty of time for Forsberg to develop and his play in the AHL gives the Blue Jackets fans something to hope for in the future, but it’s pretty clear that he needs more time in the minors before he is ready for the big stage.

 

Jacob Markstrom (Vancouver Canucks)

Markstrom has been stellar for the Utica Comets in the AHL (1.91 GAA and .932 save percentage), but with Miller and Lack ahead of him in the Canucks’ goalie hierarchy, Markstrom has only featured in one NHL game this season. He was a highly touted talent before coming over to North America and was great during his time with Brynas in the SHL, but he hasn’t gotten his breakthrough in the NHL yet.

He was disappointing in Florida, and hasn’t gotten a proper chance in Vancouver. He’s still a very promising goaltender, but it seems unlikely that he will get a chance to become an NHL goaltender again in Vancouver.

Hopefully next season will be a better one for Swedish netminders as they have fallen behind Finland as being the number one European country in pumping out quality goaltenders.

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