Either because of injuries or their lack of confidence in an alternative, the Ducks thought so little of their backup goalies last season that Jonas Hiller played in a club-record 73 games.
It made General Manager Bob Murray aggressively pursue Viktor Fasth, a veteran netminder who was the two-time goaltender of the year in the Elitserien (Swedish Elite League) but had not played 1 second of hockey in North America.
After a three-game stint in the minors to sharpen his game after a long layoff, Fasth got to show those who haven't seen much of him stateside the kind of potential quality goalie the Ducks acquired in May.
Fasth allowed only two goals on 21 shots to Nashville through regulation and overtime before denying the Predators' three shootout attempts in a 3-2 victory Saturday night. The Ducks had lost six in a row to their nemesis in the regular season and 10 of 12 overall, including the first-round playoff loss in 2011.
His answer to what he was focused on in his NHL debut was simple.
"Winning. That's what you play hockey for," Fasth said. "That's what counts."
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau had only seen the 30-year-old Fasth on video until he got to watch him work during training camp. But Boudreau had already concluded he was watching a netminder who could flourish in the league.
"He was just calm as a cucumber," Boudreau said. "I've never been a goalie and never want to be one. That's the demeanor they have to have to be successful. I thought even in the shootout, it was like, 'I'll have a cup of coffee and wait for the guy to come down.' He was pretty relaxed. And he made two really big saves there.
"That's good. It was a great debut for him. Hopefully he'll keep it up."
Fasth said his games with the American Hockey League's Norfolk (Va.) Admirals helped him adapt to the smaller NHL-sized rinks than what he was accustomed to in Sweden. Ducks goaltending consultant Pete Peeters has also worked plenty with him in terms of the different angles he'll face on shots.
Fasth gains rave reviews after strong debut in net
Orange County Register | Jan 28