With all eyes on Peter Forsberg once again, let’s get familiar with the Swedish language. The actual phrase used in the Swedish television broadcast of the Sweden-Czech Republic game in Jonkoping, Sweden was “Foppa Kollen,” meaning “Foppa Watch.”
Besides Czech forward Jaroslav Bednar asking for Forsberg’s stick after the game, Swedish TV had a dedicated camera following No. 21 so that his play could be analyzed during the intermissions. And analyzed it was.
The verdict? He’ll be fine…a little later.
Forsberg left the ice after the Swedish 4-3 win without a point, but he created several scoring chances and was inches away from deflecting the puck into the Czech net.
“The last two periods were OK,” Forsberg said after the game. “It’s a little too early to evaluate. We have two more games in the tournament, and then it’s time to see how it went.
“I haven’t played in a while and the game with the national team is a little faster than what I’m used to practicing with the junior team at home. It’s funny, I’m 36 and have played almost 100 games with Team Sweden, and yet, I was nervous before this game,” he added with a grin.
Famously self-critical, Forsberg is trying to stay upbeat and hopeful.
“I only played, what, two games last season and have played three this season, so it takes time for everything to come back,” he said. “I can see, especially in the defensive zone, that I don’t really know where everybody is and have some difficulties there. I’m just going to have to accept the fact that it’s going take some time for me to get in full game shape.
“The dream is to return to the NHL, but we’ll just have to see if I’m good enough. I have to be honest to myself. I’ve made a few attempts and I don’t want to play anywhere if I don’t feel that I can reach a level I want to reach.”
Forsberg and Co., will now travel to Helsinki to play Russia on Saturday and Finland on Sunday.
Janne Ojanen, 41, is tied for the all-time lead in Finnish SM-liiga scoring with 792 points. The former New Jersey Devil was injured in January and has been sidelined ever since. Next week, he’ll try to get a point that would lift him past Arto Javanainen, who scored his 792 points between 1976 and 1994.
Ojanen, in turn, scored his first SM-liiga point in 1986.
GERB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
While the top hockey nations are competing in the Euro Hockey Tour, Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany and the U.S. are flexing their muscles at the Deutschland Cup in Munich, Germany.
In recent years, Switzerland has bridged the gap to the big nations, while Slovakia is going through a generational shift. On Friday, Switzerland beat Slovakia 3-2 in the opening game of the tournament by playing a very disciplined game in which the Swiss only had two penalty minutes, but a total of 15 minutes on the man advantage.
One of the key players for the Swiss was goaltender Martin Gerber, 35, who stopped 31 of 33 Slovakian shots. He’s got nine wins in 18 games with Atlant Mytischi in the Kontinental League, with a 2.20 GAA and .911 save percentage.
Newmarket, Ont., native Rob Zepp might return to Canada for the Olympics wearing a Team Germany sweater.
The Berlin Eisbären (Polar Bears) goaltender got a German passport in 2008 and is now eligible to represent Germany. Head coach Uwe Krupp eagerly named him and 32-year-old German-Czech Jakub Ficenec to the Deutschland Cup team.
“Both are now available for the national team and can help in the short term,” said Krupp.
Former NHLer Dmitri Yushkevich has found a new home. After playing six seasons in his native Russia since leaving the NHL in 2003, the 37-year-old defenseman (he’ll be 38 in two weeks) signed with Oulu Karpat in the Finnish SM-liiga.
“He’ll bring experience and size to the team,” said Ari Hilli, the Kärpät director of hockey operations.
Coach Matti Alatalo is looking forward to getting the 1993 World Championship Best Defenseman into the dressing room.
“His resume speaks for itself,” Alatalo said. “We have high expectations and even if he hasn’t played anywhere this season, according to the reports we’ve got he’s in great shape.”
Kärpät also signed 24-year-old Lukas Kaspar to a deal that covers the remainder of the season.
“He’s been knocking on the door in the NHL and is looking for a new start in Finland,” Alatalo said of the Czech forward.
Kaspar collected four points in 13 games with the San Jose Sharks and 44 points in 65 games with the Worcester Sharks of the American League last season.
Eye on Europe will be featured on THN.com every Friday throughout the season. Risto Pakarinen is a Finnish freelance writer, based in Stockholm, Sweden who also writes for NHL.com and IIHF.com. When not writing about European hockey on THN, he’s probably writing about hockey at ristopakarinen.com/hockey as Puckarinen.
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