The top flight of Swedish hockey resumed play after taking a week off for the Karjala Cup with a pair of likely title contenders continuing their winning ways. Färjestad and HV 71 continued their battle at the top of the 2009-10 Elitserien, and this time it was the Wolfpack that came out on top.
by Chipp Reid
The defending league champions slipped past the Blue Bulls as they won two of their three games starting Nov. 11. The Elitserien took a week off for the Karjala Cup in which Sweden finished a disappointing last.
Färjestad opened the week with a 3-2 overtime win over Södertälje Nov. 11, then beat Modo 4-1 Nov. 12 before losing 2-1 to Timrå Nov. 14. HV 71 won just once over the same span, a 5-4 overtime win Nov. 14 over Modo. The Blue Bulls lost Nov. 11 to Luleå 5-3 and finished in a 2-2 tie Nov. 12 with Frölunda.
Despite the mixed results, HV 71 continues to lead the league in offense. The Blue Bulls high-powered first line of Johan Davidsson, David Petrasaek and Jukka Voultainen have a combined 27 goals and 51 assists. BY contrast, the top line at Färjestad of Pär Åslund, Jesper Mattsson and Lee Goren have a combined 15 goals and 19 assists.
The difference between the two teams has been defense. HV 71 has scored 77 goals in just 19 games but has also allowed 52, the second-highest total among the top eight teams. Färjestad has allowed just 44 goals, the second-lowest total among the top eight.
The Wolfpack had a one-point lead over HV 71 after Round 19 of the Elitserien as the top two teams continued to pull away from the rest of the pack.
Third-place Linköping, with 31 points, picked up 4 points in the last three rounds with a win over Frölunda and a tie with Skellefteå. LFC lost 3-1 to Frölunda on Nov. 10.
Djurgården, Frölunda and Skellefteå were all level on points with 30, but DIF held fourth place and Frölunda fifth thanks to goal difference. Djurgården, which has the most titles of any Elitserien, continued to recover from a slow start with a pair of wins and a draw in its last three games.
Djurgården played to a 2-2 overtime draw with Modo Nov. 11 in Örnsköldsvik, then beat Luleå at home 6-2 on Nov. 12 before knocking off Södertälje 3-1 on the road Nov. 14.
Frölunda kept pace, beating Linköping and Rögle and tying Skellefteå.
The real surprise of the league remains at the bottom of the standings, where Modo continues to sit in last place and Timrå in second to last.
Modo opened the season with eyes on the title as former NHL superstar Peter Forsberg tried yet another comeback from a foot injury as a member of the team. Forsberg, however, cut his comeback short as he kept his eyes on a return to North America. When he left after three games, Modo seemingly fell apart.
The team once known as Sweden’s “hockey factory” has just five wins in 19 games, scoring just 43 goals while allowing 60.
Modo’s woes continued as it managed just two points in its last three games from a pair of overtime ties.
Timrå had a slightly better week, grabbing a win Nov. 14 after losing twice. The Red Eagles lost more than a dozen players after last season and have yet to recover. Timrå also has just five wins, but is four points ahead of Modo thanks to more overtime points.
HV71 defenseman Simon Önerud takes Modo winger Alexander Bonsaksen into the boards Nov. 14 during the Blue Bulls' 5-4 overtime win. Bildbyrån photo/Robin Nordlund