Frölunda opened their first round play in the Champions Hockey League and for Leafs' prospect Carl Grundström is was the best of times and the worst of times. These are games played partly as a tuneup and partly for pride, but no one is really in peak season form yet.
The Swedish defending champions of the CHL were up against the Wolfsburg Grizzlys, and they should have expected to dominate the German side. And while they did on the shot clock (31-17), and the scoreboard—eventually—they started out playing a wild up and down game of chances off the rush that put their own goalie to the test.
Grundström looked fairly good in the early stages. When you need to find him on the ice, look in a corner, and you'll find him digging for the puck. He was working hard at that, but he's also fast and has some scoring touch. He looks dangerous on the rush.
Frölunda looked generally more and more sloppy defensively as the game went on, but between their goalie and the inability of the Grizzlys to capitalize on some stunningly poor decisions, they held on until they found an offensive push in the third period that resulted in two goals and a 2-1 lead.
It's unlikely coach Roger Rönnberg was thrilled with their use of the cross-ice pass through traffic zone-exit technique, though.
Frölunda nearly got the insurance goal in the last seconds of the game, with the Grizzlys goalie pulled, but this happened:
Oh, Carl. Oh, honey, no!
If nothing else, he will feel like he's really one of the guys on his new team as they ruthlessly chirp him over that. Rönnberg, on the other hand, may do worse.
Grundström looks like what he is: a nineteen-year-old raw talent. He's fun to watch, and he's got some skills that get lost in the discussions of his physical and aggressive play. But he needs a lot of edges filed down.
It's on to Pardubice for Frölunda and another opponent they should walk over easy. Let's hope they play like champions and not whatever that was today. And let's also hope that Grundström continues to get some ice time.
Thanks, as always to Patrik B. of Habs Eyes on the Prize for the gifs. I appreciate it so much, I won't notice the salt he's spilling over poor Carl's gaffe.