Two games in Sweden will mean a lot to hockey in that country

November 07, 2019 - 1:37 pm

(WGR 550) - Victor Hedman is the only Swedish player on the Tampa Bay's roster, but Buffalo will have the home advantage. Swedes with the Sabres include Rasmus Dahlin, Victor Olofsson, Linus Ullmark, Johan Larsson, Marcus Johansson and Lawrence Pilut.

Buffalo and the Lightning will play two games on Friday and Saturday and I had a chance to chat with three of them about what this week means to them and what it means to their home country of Sweden,


"I don't know what it's going to be like or how many people are going to show up for the games, but I'm excited to see how it's going to go." Dahlin added that he will have a strange feeling this week, "It's weird, going to dinner with all my teammates in Sweden, it couldn't be better for me."

Because of injuries, Dahlin has never gotten a chance to play in the Ericsson Globe. He said it's the premier rink in his country, "It's like Madison Square Garden. It's powerful and when you go and play there, you're super excited."

Kids in Sweden don't get to see many NHL games because it's two in the morning when many of them start. Dahlin thinks this trip will mean a lot, "There's not many people that can come over to watch NHL hockey, so it's going to be huge for all the people that can't come to America."

As a kid, the NHL wasn't really available to Dahlin, "I could always watch highlights, but games were hard, they're in the middle of the night, but I did watch the Stanley Cup Finals."

Not seeing much of the NHL, didn't stop Dahlin from having NHL heroes as a kid, "General NHL players, you know everything about them like the biggest stars, especially me who loves hockey so much, I knew everything about them.

"I do think the Swedish stars are bigger because you know how they play, so my biggest idle was in Frolunda."

As far as the food he's treating his teammates to this week. Dahlin said, "Kebabtallrik, it's meat with fries and everyone eats them and it's the best food you can have." Dahlin took the boys to the candy store too.


Johansson has played in Sweden before as a member of the New Jersey Devils. Even though it's happened before, he's still looking forward to it, "I'm very excited, I get to play in front of family and friends in Sweden in an NHL game and it's pretty special. It's something you didn't even dream of growing up, so it's very fortunate to be able to do that."

"It's great for young players to get to watch who maybe don't get to watch otherwise, it's great to get to see the best league in the world in your home country is a cool thing."

There were more demands on the Swedish players this week, but Johansson is OK with that, "Yes, but it's kind of fun, you get to hang out with family and friends and just to be able to go to lunch with your pals back home, it's pretty special. It's busy, but definitely worth it."

Johansson is older than Dahlin which means he had less exposure to the NHL as a kid, "Not a lot, they, didn't really broadcast the way it is now when I grew up, so we just saw highlights and stuff every now and then."

"For the kids that get to go to the game I hope they enjoy it because I think it's very special."

Peter Forsberg paved the way for a lot of Swedish players. Johansson said, "It's tough to say, technically it was before him, but for me a couple years ahead of me it was Backstrom and some of those guys kind of made us realize that it was possible."


A few years ago Olofsson didn't know if he'd ever play in the NHL and to now be able to play in the NHL in front of family and friends? The winger never thought it would be possible, "To be able to play in front of them in Sweden, it's something that you really can't imagine ever doing."

Olofsson is from the same place as Hedman and he said the Lightning defenseman has meant a lot to him, "We started working out together this summer and I've known him for awhile and he's a great guy to look up to and I tried to catch him in workouts, so he's been a great sparring partner for me and if there were any questions I had about playing over here, he knows everything."

Olofsson is really looking forward to seeing what these two games do for Sweden, "I think it means a lot. It's great for kids to watch this game live. It's hard with the time change, so it's not like you can stay up and watch a lot of games as a kid, so it'll be a great time for them and they'll be able to learn a lot."

Friday join me and Joe DiBiase for the pregame starting at 1:30 right after One Bills Live.

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