BOSTON -- It seems like eons ago that Niklas Svedberg last played in an exhibition game after his impressive stint against the Washington Capitals on a shoddy ice surface at the Baltimore Arena.
But the 24-year-old will get his encore performance when he makes his first career start in a Boston Bruins uniform for the B’s penultimate preseason game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Svedberg is looking forward to it as one of three remaining goaltenders in NHL training camp, and he’ll be hard-pressed to match Chad Johnson’s 18-save shutout performance against the Detroit Red Wings last weekend.
“I’m just looking forward to going out there playing without putting too much pressure on myself,” said Svedberg. “I just want to do my best every time I’m out there. It’s been a really fun opportunity with Boston, and my goal is to make the team…and nothing else.
“I just want to keep getting better and better every year. Even if you’re 35 years old and playing at this level, hopefully there are things you can do to be better each and every year.”
In his last appearance Svedberg stuffed a penalty shot in the third period to protect a one goal deficit, and then stoned Alex Ovechkin on a rush down the left wing during overtime. Ovie ended up scoring on Svedberg in the shootout, but the Bruins came away with the win as the B’s goaltender turned away all seven of the Washington shooters aside from the reigning Hart Trophy winner.
“A player like that…to make a couple of saves on him was fun,” said Svedberg, who went 37-8-2 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.17 goals against average with the P-Bruins last year. “You know who these players are when they’re out there, and you’re keeping an eye on them.
“It’s the same as when you’re playing in Sweden with guys like Peter Forsberg and Marcus Naslund. It’s kind of surreal, but at the same time it doesn’t who is coming when you’re in the net. You just want to make the save.”
Svedberg will get plenty of chances to make the save -- and make final impressions on the Bruins coaching staff -- when he hits the ice against the Jets on Thursday night in The Peg. It’s expected that Tuukka Rask and the normal Bruins lineup will be in place for Friday night’s preseason finale against the Jets in Saskatoon.
All things being equal the job as Rask’s backup will probably go to the veteran Johnson after shaking off a bad start to the preseason, but the Swedish netminder can make it a much more difficult decision by shutting down a Winnipeg team looking at the Bruins as their final preseason test before the regular campaign starts next week.