There was so much to look forward to. Like watching Magnus Pääjärvi play SHL hockey again after 4,254 days.
Or that Scandinavium was full for the first time in 607 days.
Still, everything seemed to end up in the shadow of Max Friberg’s nasty injury.
You have probably experienced that nasty feeling when something really serious has happened. It managed to appear in Scandinavium for a few seconds when Max Friberg, with the help of the Lauridsen brothers, was helped by the ice with the blood flowing profusely down his leg.
You really notice how little gains and losses mean when things like this happen. It was also beautiful to see Malmöbacken Oliver Lauridsen’s actions when he helped Friberg off the ice in a flash.
Now, better soon, positive reports came from Frölundalägret. The bleeding had stopped and the audience favorite Friberg was on his way by ambulance to hospital.
It also made the players able to fully focus on the game itself.
Frölunda also lost Mats Rosseli Olsen in the middle period, but did not lose hope.
On the contrary, you gradually got into this match that they had a hard time asking for in the first period.
Could not complain about the menu
Nicklas Lasu took the lead with a physical free kick.
Afterwards, he was hailed without reservation by Roger Rönnberg.
– I have never seen Nicklas Lasu better, he was fantastic today.
To put it in a bit of perspective, Lasu has still made just over 500 SHL matches in the Frölunda jersey and lots of playoff and CHL matches. The vast majority with Rönnberg in the booth.
Some time into the third period, SHL’s most classic audience figure was trumpeted: 12,044 spectators.
The last time it was packed in Scandinavium was almost 20 months ago, on March 7, 2020.
The menu could not be complained about either.
Series-leading Frölunda against hard-hitting Malmö. The heavyweight meeting was not the most beautiful match of the season, the real cold in the decisive situations was missing. Therefore, it was also 0-0 after two periods.
It was also significant for the match when Frölunda tied the knot on themselves when they had to play five against three in 1.55, but just when Malmö was to get their two players in, Michael Spacek thundered into the puck.
A goal that also became the only match.
Best team since the gold in the 90s
But there was so much more to enjoy with this match. It was a physical and tactical showdown that the audience liked more and more the longer it lasted.
That the result also went Frölunda’s way – and that the home players sacrificed themselves ruthlessly in front of brilliant Matt Tomkins – of course helped to almost lift the roof in Scandinavium when the final signal went.
It was a playoff feeling in the dark of November.
Not since the happy 90s has the Malmö Redhawks had a more well-known team. Since last summer alone, Patrik Sylvegård has recruited players with almost 1,600 NHL games on the merit list.
Joakim Ryan, Lance Bouma, Carl Söderberg, Fredrik Händemark and then Magnus Pääjärvi.
The last time Magnus Pääjärvi played an SHL match was just over eleven years ago, on March 13, 2010 when Timrå met Luleå.
He was only 19 then, but had already played 133 SHL games.
Since then, the former super talent has spent eleven years in the NHL, AHL and KHL.
Malmö will lift in the table
Now he is back in Malmö and the meeting with Frölunda was a first indication of what we can expect. Of course there was a little rust, but Pääjärvi also showed proof of his fine wrists, a couple of ingenious passes and an ability to cover the puck. At this level, he should definitely be a player who makes a difference in close matches.
Now there is really only one thing missing for Malmö: better results.
A three-pointer in the last eleven matches is not something that lifts any team in the table, only Timrå has taken fewer points. That is why Malmö is also tenth, only five points from a qualifying spot.
It is above all the defensive and goalkeeping game that has broken down, despite the team not releasing particularly many shots in the dangerous area. On the contrary, only Växjö is better there. Oscar Alsenfelt has been one of the league’s absolute best goalkeepers for a few years, but has not started this autumn after his long absence due to injury. In the five matches he had stood until the meeting with Frölunda, he had the worst save percentage of all goalkeepers. Everyone knows that it will not look like that any longer.
Alsenfelt’s game against Frölunda was a big step in the right direction.
Just like it was for the team. Now the patience and trade-offs were there in a completely different way.
The question is not whether Malmö will rise in the table, but when.
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Abrahamsson: Beautiful to see Lauridsen’s actions