Swedish goalie goes mental
Anaheim Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth had a lot of physical work to do to overcome a knee injury he got while playing in Sweden.
He also had some mental changes to make.
Fasth told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter he once threw his goalie stick 17 rows into the crowd. When his former AIK goalie coach Stefan Persson tells the story, he stops at row 7—but you get the picture.
"When I was in my teens and got my first real goalie mask, our equipment manager told me once that the next time you break a stick on the crossbar, I'll take your mask and throw it to the ground," Fasth told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. "Somehow I remember that one."
He's better now, he said—and it shows.
Working with mental coach Martin Blom, Fasth improved his approach. Persson points out another detail that makes Fasth a successful goalie.
Persson made a video of Fasth, showing just the moments when he turned his head and looked around during one game. The edit was four minutes long. He edited a similar video for AIK's new goalie, Daniel Larsson, at the beginning of this season. That edit was 22 seconds long.
"No other goalie moves his head as much as Fasth," Persson said. "Your eyes are key to everything. If you know where you are and where the other players are, you can then steer the defense and talk to the defensemen, and you don't have to guess when you make saves."
Every once in a while, Fasth has to return to the basics. That's when he works on angles, positioning and getting up from the ice.
"He had some problems with the small [NHL] rink, but it was just a matter of adjusting things a little," Persson said.
How little? Four inches.
Though he could claim some, Persson won't take credit for Fasth's breakthrough in the NHL.
"Who came up with the flop in high jump, or the V-style in ski jumping? It wasn't a coach, it was an athlete," Persson said. "Viktor's so modest, and when you hear him praise the defense after a game, that's truly him. He also knows that when he has a bad day, he'll get their support."
But the goalie coach is surprised.
"Did I think he'd get to the NHL when he came to AIK? No."

Johan Olsson of Sweden and Therese Johaug of Norway won classical-style races Feb. 17 in the last cross-country World Cup event before the start of the world championships.
Olsson won the men's 15-kilometer race in 34 minutes, 47.5 seconds, beating overall World Cup leader Dario Cologna of Switzerland by 11.8 seconds. Alexander Legkov of Russia was third, 13.9 seconds back.
In the women's 10K race, Johaug clocked 26:16.7 to beat runaway overall leader Justyna Kowalczyk of Poland by 8.9 seconds. Kristin Stoermer Steira of Norway was 13.4 back in third.
Triple Olympic champion Marit Bjoergen of Norway pulled out of the race to rest up ahead of the worlds in Val di Fiemme, Italy, which start Feb. 21.
In downhill, rookie professional Frida Hansdotter continued her impressive inaugural campaign, placing third in the in the World Ski Championships in Schladming in Austria on Saturday.
"I am super happy," she said.
The 27-year-old was leading the event after an opening run of 50.41 seconds but ultimately succumbed to the pace of U.S. teen sensation Mikaela Shiffrin in the final.
Hansdotter has placed second in four races this season and was satisfied with a bronze in the final women's event of the World Ski Championships.
"I did two good runs and I have a medal so I'm satisfied," she said.
Shiffrin meanwhile confirmed her status as the most promising prodigy in women's alpine skiing when she shelved her school homework long enough to win the world slalom crown.

THERE was snow stopping Sebastien Ogier at Rally Sweden.
In Christmas card conditions, the Frenchman led from SS2 to give the Volkswagen Polo R WRC its first victory in the FIA World Rally Championship—in only its second event. By scoring an additional three points for setting fastest time on the closing Power Stage, Ogier took the lead in the World Rally Circuit Ogier, 29, was chased hard by nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb in a Citroen DS3 WRC.
It was a wintry duel of speed and precision, held over 22 deep snow covered forest roads in Sweden and Norway. Just 24.6 seconds separated the top two as they entered the penultimate stage. However, when Loeb clipped a snowbank, he knew the minor and rare error had cost him hopes of victory and he eased off.
Ogier set another fastest time on the final stage to win by 41.8 seconds—joining Loeb as the only non-Scandinavian driver ever to win Rally Sweden.
“That is an indescribable feeling,” Ogier said. “We were screaming with joy in the car.”

Players blame artificial turf for injuries
A pair of Allsvenskan stars have come out against the growing use of artificial turf in Swedish football. Helsingborg central Walid Atta blamed turf for his second knee injury in five months after he tore the meniscus in his right knee during an exhibition match.
Djurgården midfielder Andreas Johansson was more pointed in his criticism, saying turf “is the wrong way to go for Swedish football.” Johansson, who has played on artificial turf in Sweden and in Denmark, said the technology in Europe is simply not equal to task, warning many more players are likely to suffer injuries they otherwise would not have suffered on natural grass.
Atta, who played for AIK before two seasons in Europe, returned to Sweden last year. He suffered a pair of knee injuries after going injury-free in his previous three years.
“The injuries I had last year, all of the matches were on artificial turf,” Atta said. “It was at Åtvidaberg away in the spring, then away to Elfsborg in the fall. Against Elfsborg I felt okay during the match then my knee swelled up. It is insidious. It was the same thing now that I trained during the winter, the knee swelled up afterwards and I felt pain."
Helsingborg began its preseason indoors, where it is training on artificial turf. Atta complained of more knee pain after training Feb. 12. A doctor found he needed surgery for the meniscus for the second time since last fall. The surgery was performed last Feb. 15.
“Yes, I believe it the artificial turf that caused the tear, but how to solve it? I have no idea actually,” Atta said.” I will try to build up the knee as much as possible just so I can handle the artificial turf. “
Two Allsvenskan teams—Elfsborg and Åtvidaberg—already play on artificial turf. Gefle, Sundsvall and Djurgården are all looking into converting their stadiums to turf. Cold-weather football countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia all say use of artificial turf is essential to their teams because of the climate. Artificial turf also allows clubs to book non-football events, such as concerts, without fear of damage to natural grass fields.
The arguments, however, rang hollow to Atta.
“I don’t like it and I do not think many others like it, either,” Atta said. “But what can you do, now it’s here in many places and you have to make the best of it.”