Fasth Start Has Ducks with Two Viable Goalie Options

Wednesday, 02.6.2013 / 10:48 AM PT / News
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Fasth Start Has Ducks with Two Viable Goalie Options
“I enjoy playing every game,” Fasth said after the San Jose win. “This is my third start and I’m feeling better and better, getting into the way of playing over here. Every day that goes by, it feels better.”
By Adam Brady
AnaheimDucks.com

In the first four starts of his NHL life, all of which he’s won, Viktor Fasth has hardly looked like a rookie. But maybe that’s because he’s really not.

By NHL standards, sure, he’s a first-year player. But the 30-year-old Fasth is no stranger to the rigors of the pro game. The native of Sweden– whose full name is actually Erik Sixten Viktor Fasth – was awarded the Swedish Elite League’s Honken Trophy  (given to the Goaltender of the Year) for the second time in 2011-12. He’s the first goaltender since Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist (2002-05) to win the award in two straight seasons. And he did it last season on the strength of a gaudy 1.68 goals-against average and .942 save percentage.

When the Ducks were able to sign Fasth back in May of last year, Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray called him “a very sought-after free agent, and we won on that one.”  

Fasth has responded with similar numbers he posted in Sweden: a jaw-dropping 0.98 goals-against average and a .962 save percentage. He's posted wins over Nashville, Minnesota, San Jose and, last Wednesday night, at Colorado, in which he earned his first shutout in a 3-0 victory.

In doing so, he became the first NHL goaltender to win his first four games since Nolan Schaefer (with San Jose) did so from Oct. 26 to Nov. 4, 2005. Fasth is also the first goaltender in NHL history over age 30 to win his first four games (no other player 30+  had won more than their first two).

This dramatic save against David Legwand in the shootout gave Fasth his first NHL win.
“He’s played amazing in every game,” said Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray.  “He certainly doesn’t look like a rookie. He’s calm and he’s cool, he’s talking to us back there and helping us out. It just makes the game easier. He makes a big save and it gives the team confidence. He’s definitely done his job and beyond.”

Fasth has been a welcome respite for the Ducks, who leaned heavily last season on goalie Jonas Hiller, who played 73 out of 82 games last season, including a team-record 32 straight. This season, Hiller has started five of Anaheim’s first eight games (posting a 3-1-1 record).

“I enjoy playing every game,” Fasth said after the San Jose win. “This is my third start and I’m feeling better and better, getting into the way of playing over here. Every day that goes by, it feels better.”

Fasth did require some early-season adjustment to NHL game’s speed and slightly different rink size when compared to the Swedish leagues. He was sent to Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Norfolk in mid-January, just before the NHL season got started, and responded with a 1.96 GAA and .914 SV% in three appearances.

He won his first NHL start on January 26 with some flair, stopping all three Nashville shootout attempts, including the final one in which he deflected a David Legwand attempt with the glove before dramatically snatching it out of the air.

“He’s played amazing in every game,” said Ducks defenseman Sheldon Souray.  “He certainly doesn’t look like a rookie. He’s calm and he’s cool, he’s talking to us back there and helping us out. He’s definitely done his job and beyond.”
It was after being named the No. 1 star of that game that Fasth slightly exaggerated when he told Ducks TV reporter Kent French, "I've been waiting 30 years for this opportunity."

Against the Sharks, one of Fasth’s biggest plays was probably not credited as an official save, as he thwarted a Patrick Marleau breakaway by lunging out and poke-checking the puck away midway through the third period with the Ducks clinging to a slim lead.

"He's doing a good job," Boudreau said of Fasth. "He's doing what he's supposed to do, which is make  coaches make tough decisions. [Hiller] is the guy that we've relied on. He played 73 games last year. But it's a real pleasant surprise what Viktor's doing."
 
That surprising early play will be vital to a Ducks team that faces a season-long road trip of six days in 11 nights, including two back-to-back contests. The onus is on Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau to decide which of his two goalies to start on a given night.

“Sometimes you can overthink it. Sometimes it’s statistical on how one goalie has done against a team in the past,” Boudreau says. “There are a lot of little things, and you come up with a decision. It’s an interesting dynamic, but when you have two good goalies, you can afford to do that.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - ANA 78 49 22 7 227 216 105
2 x - NSH 78 47 22 9 224 193 103
3 STL 76 46 23 7 229 190 99
4 CHI 76 46 24 6 217 176 98
5 MIN 76 44 25 7 219 186 95
6 VAN 77 45 27 5 224 208 95
7 CGY 77 42 28 7 229 204 91
8 WPG 77 39 26 12 217 204 90
9 LAK 76 37 25 14 201 192 88
10 DAL 77 37 30 10 239 248 84
11 SJS 76 37 30 9 212 215 83
12 COL 76 35 29 12 206 213 82
13 EDM 76 23 40 13 185 255 59
14 ARI 77 23 46 8 161 256 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Getzlaf 75 24 44 13 68
C. Perry 63 32 20 15 52
R. Kesler 78 20 27 -2 47
S. Vatanen 63 12 25 6 37
J. Silfverberg 77 12 23 12 35
P. Maroon 69 9 25 -4 34
C. Fowler 76 7 27 5 34
H. Lindholm 74 7 26 23 33
M. Beleskey 63 22 10 15 32
R. Rakell 67 8 22 8 30
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
F. Andersen 33 11 5 .914 2.40
J. Gibson 13 7 0 .916 2.58

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