As the descendant of hardy Swedish stock raised in a predominently Swedish community, I have a soft (but outwardly stoic) spot in my heart for my Nordic brethren. While they may not always be the most flamboyant players on the ice, their work ethic and hockey finesse have contributed to an exciting first week of the season for the Nashville Predators. Pull up a well-assembled IKEA chair and let’s feast on a smörgåsbord of week one Swede highlights.
(Little bit of trivia: Did you know “Carl” is Fil’s first name and also the name of the reigning King of Sweden?)
Week one saw Forsberg kick off at a sizzling goal-a-game pace. While that is nearly statistically impossible to sustain over an 82-game season, Forsberg reinforced Coach Laviolette’s assertion that there is no such thing as a second line with the top six Preds forwards. It also heightens the “Forsberg’s forty goal season” anticipation. While it is still early, keep your eye on Carl Filip, who is consistently finding the back of the net.
Goal vs. Wild (Swede to Swede)
Goal vs. Red Wings (Give a Swede a lane...)
Goal vs. Sharks (Shark tastes like herring.)
Goal vs. Capitals (I don’t know the Swedish word for “swish”, but I like the celebration.)
Arvy has long been a joy to watch on the ice, and this gorgeous power play goal in the Red Wings game breathed life into a Preds power play that has needed resuscitation. And I raise a glass of glögg to his Swedish cheer even as Howard passive-aggressively trips him post goal.
One of my first favorite Preds players (as we have similar Swedish surnames), Mattias is the picture of Nordic hardiness, playing 80 of 82 games last year. This season he has been paired with nearly-new Dante Fabbro, and Ekholm’s experience is going to be a benefit to this pairing as we head into the meat of the season. Not only a solid defender, Ekholm was fifth in overall points in 2018-2019 for the Predators. Proving that—as ABBA declares—the winner takes it all, he sank the game-winning goal in an electric battle against the Washington Capitals.
Never really finding a permanent line home last season, Järnkrok struggled to find the net after his glorious hat trick against the LA Kings in 2018-2019. He started Week One as a bottom-six winger on a line with Turris and Grimaldi but was bumped to the first line with Ryan Johansen and Arvidsson for the game against the Capitals. It was an interesting move by Laviolette. Järnkrok had a great assist for Ekholm’s game winning goal. Swedes are not known for being wasteful, and Järnkrok shouldn’t waste this opportunity. A Joey, Arvy, Järny line could develop into something special, so keep your eye on Calle through this road trip and see where he lands.
Of course, the buzz of week one isn’t solely a Swedish phenomenon with key saves from the Finn Pekka Rinne and an impressive points compilation by Canadian Matt Duchene. There is much to anticipate looking ahead regarding whether the Predators can carry this momentum on the road. While passing on the lutefisk, I’m fixing my brown eyes (because not all Swedes are blue-eyed) on Forsberg, Arvidsson, Ekholm, and Järnkrok to see how our Swedish stars execute through the season.