ANAHEIM – As the final buzzer sounded at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday evening, the Anaheim Ducks had defeated the hometown Colorado Avalanche 3-0 to improve their record to 7-1-1 on the season and climb into first place in the Pacific division. The star of the victory was none other than goaltender Viktor Fasth who turned away 31 shots to earn his first career National Hockey League shutout.
The Ducks’ have been one of the most surprising teams in the NHL thus far in 2013 and a large amount of their early season success has come courtesy of their Swedish netminder. Fasth currently boasts a 4-0-0 record in 2013 and owns a league-best 0.98 GAA. Fasth entered the 2013 season slated as the team’s backup goaltender behind Jonas Hiller. However, Hiller’s dismal .871 save percentage and disappointing 3.54 GAA presented Fasth with an opportunity to seize the Ducks’ starting goaltending position.
Fasth has started four of the team’s last six games and has not allowed more than two goals in any of his starts this season. The 30-year-old netminder credits his defenceman and coaching staff for boosting his play in his first NHL season. “I feel great playing behind these guys. I try to communicate as much as possible with them and we always stress how communication is a big part of the game.”
Fasth signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Ducks’ on May 21, 2012. Prior to signing in the NHL, Fasth had played in Sweden from 2007-2012. In 2011-2012, Fasth was named Swedish Elite League Goaltender of the Year as he recorded a sensational 2.12 GAA and .934 save percentage.
While Fasth may be a rookie to the National Hockey League, he is no stranger to high-pressure on-ice situations. Fasth led the Swedish National team to a silver medal at the 2011 IIHF World Championships and has also played in various leagues throughout Sweden. Fasth notes that he has taken nothing for granted in his professional hockey career and is truly appreciative of the opportunity he has received with the Ducks’. “I’ve been playing for a while but not every 30-year-old gets this chance. I am truly enjoying being out there,” commented Fasth following his first career shutout.
Fasth’s early season statistics certainly indicate a goaltender worthy of a starting job in the National Hockey League and while it is a rather small sample sizing, Fasth’s tremendous play has put Head Coach Bruce Boudreau in a difficult situation. “I prepare to play every game,” commented Fasth following Wednesday’s victory in Colorado. “It’s my job and as a goaltender you never know what can happen out there.”
Bruce Boudreau noted that Jonas Hiller is well aware of Fasth’s strong play of late and anticipates his veteran goaltender to perform at a high level when his number is called. “(Jonas) Hiller knows. They seem like a great tandem together. Hiller will be playing and will hopefully be doing the same thing as (Viktor Fasth) out there,” said Boudreau.
While Jonas Hiller definitely possesses more NHL experience than Viktor Fasth, it appears that the 30-year-old Swedish netminder is not quite ready to relinquish the Ducks’ starting job. Despite having played just four games in the National Hockey League, Viktor Fasth is confident that he can handle the overwhelming task of being a starting goaltender in the most premier professional hockey league in the world.
- Daniele Franceschi -