Hagos has been a real good addition for the team in terms of stability defensively. He's playing a feisty game night in and night out. He brings a ton of energy and so far has also done a great job in creating offense no matter what linemates he's been put with (6G, 13A in 38 games played).
I'm not sure if Cologne is willing to keep him, though. (He's on a one-year contract.) The team might look for someone a little more offensively skilled to round out the roster for next season.
I was going to give you guys an extended update on things in our small Swedish colony as well, only to see McLlwain having beaten me to that. Oh, well.
Anyway, it looks like we'll see our Swedish community grow even further. One of our import players (Nathan Robinson) has been released from the club after he fell through the depth chart into a role he didn't fit in, at all. Mika Hannula has already been at our facilities and it seems likely he will be officially signed very soon.
So, our Swedish community is now one win away from winning the German title - but so is our opponent in the finals. After getting through their first two rounds in five games, the Haie went up by 2 games early against Ingolstadt, who made the playoffs as the 9th seed through the "pre-playoffs", where they eliminated the reigning champions, before they defeated the two top seeds of the regular season. In game three, the Haie should have been up three goals after just twenty minutes putting the series almost out of reach, didn't, and Ingolstadt came back to win it luckily, which changed the series. They went on to tie the series back at home relatively convincingly, as the Haie suddenly started to struggle to score goals again. Then, they took a third straigth game on the road at Cologne in overtime on Friday, in a pretty wide open game where Cologne failed to capitalize and their goalie Timo Pielmeier (short-time NHL goalie for the Ducks and in the Sharks and Devils organisations). They went back home today with a chance to win their first German title today. In a hard fought and intense game, things went to overtime at 0-0, where Haie legend Mirko Lüdemann (40 years old) blasted one in to send the series back to Cologne for game 7. That will be on on Tuesday at 7 pm. (Free stream online, if anyone's interested, in the video box above the league table on the night.)
Short summary on our Swedes: Tjärnqvist is pretty much our MVP. We roll our scoring lines relatively evenly with few gamebreakers there and rely on our puck possession and defensive game a lot, and he's the key there. Last year he was paired with Holmqvist most of the time, this year they are broken up (even before Holmer was out injured) and he's paired with young inexperienced Björn Krupp (son of our headcoach and former Minnesota Wild free agent prospect signing). Tjärnqvist's stability has helped him out a long way. His smarts are visible in the small things almost every shift. Holmer was out with a severe concussion earlier in the year. Our PP struggled, before, during and after, after he had run it amazingly last year. He's back now, already playing through something else back-related. He's still important to us, but not at the level that made him the league's top player of the year last season. Andreas Falk is again the warrior you guys had always told me to expect in postseason. Going to the dirty areas, being a bit of a pest himself, and generally chipping in. Mika Hannula took a while to get up to speed after being out of hockey for a while, and unfortunately an injury only delayed that process, but these last couple of weeks he indicated that he can still be a huge factor. Great puck control, hard to knock off the puck along the boards, and another warrior, albeit not as chippy as Falk. Then there's Yared Hagos, who's centering our fourth line at the moment, where he's been another good fit. As I said, we rolled our lines relatively evenly all year, and he's contributed in that capacity. He's another guy that manages to get under the opponent's skin, in return he receives a ton of abuse, and unfortunately the refs aren't doing much to protect our guys these days. He had a stick squarely planted in his face today when trying to finish a hit, which went unnotived, as a prime example.
That's that for now - excited for Tuesday's game with our Swedish five man corps.
Great to see all my old boys from Djurgården still being able to perform at such a high level. I'm surprised how well Andreas "Lill-Honken" Holmqvist has been playing in DEL. I know him as a poor skater, often struggling in the SHL. He is an offensive weapon but lacks the speed and agility needed in the defensive zone.
Well, no title for our Swedes. And if anyone caught the game, it was not exactly advertisement for the league. Our team seemed totally caught in the headlights. Really sad finish to a great playoff campaign. We'll see what happens to our Swedish community.
So, a tiny update from the Swedish province in Germany known as the the Kölner Haie - mainly because it's been growing again recently. Newest Swede to arrive is Douglas Murray, who just had his debut and instantly made some fans with some hits.
Holmqvist, Tjärnqvist and Falk are still here, but all have struggled this campaign so far, like most of the team. The terrible start to the season cost Uwe Krupp his coaching job, who was then replaced, of course, by a Swede in Niklas Sundblad, who had been with the club as both player and coach before. They're fighting for a "pre-playoff" spot right now.
With the contracts of all our Swedish skaters guys running out, it's pretty whether any of them will stick around. There's probably going to be a fair bit of a turnover on the roster, but it seems safe to say the Swedish element will remain - one signing that seems to be in the bag for next season is Fredrik Eriksson from Nuremberg, who succeeded Holmqvist as the league's defender of the year last season.