Malmö took a 2-0 lead just 2:15 into the first period, but struggled to generate extended offensive pressure afterwards. A wide-open first period turned into a tight-checking, physical final 40 minutes.
HV71 took over the second and third periods, featuring solid performances from 2017 Draft eligible Lias Andersson and Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Kevin Stenlund. The end result was a 4-2 victory for visiting HV71, who took a commanding 3-1 series lead.
C/LW | 5’11” 198 lbs | HV71 #23
2017 NHL Draft Eligible | 1998-10-13
Regular Season: 42GP 9G 10A 19P | Playoffs: 8GP 3G 0A 3P
Andersson slotted in as the HV71’s second-line centre, occasionally lining up at wing. On his second shift, Andersson was pushed off stride behind his own net, resulting in a turnover and subsequently a goal against. He played timidly the next shift, but quickly turned his game around and had a very solid performance.
Andersson scored with a quick set of hands in tight, roofing a backhand shot in the process; but what was even more impressive was what occurred before the goal. After supporting his defencemen deep in his zone, he accelerated up the ice while demonstrating smooth edge work to pivot to track the puck. This allowed him to find a seam and shake off his backchecker, leaving him alone with a lane to the net.
The 18-year-old boasts impressive strength and determination. Not only did he throw two bonecrushing hits, he won the majority of his puck battles. He enters battles with a low centre of gravity and a wide stance, enabling him to absorb bumps and aggressively drive his legs through opponents’ sticks. He complements his strength with precise edge work and first-step acceleration to get the jump on loose pucks, and adds soft puck touches when escaping the boards.
Unsurprisingly, Andersson was heavily used in an offensive role, starting all but two of his shifts in the offensive zone or on-the-fly. He possesses above-average puck skills in all categories, and is consistent in utilizing these tools. While he’s not the primary puck handler on his line, he could be as soon as next season.
C/RW | 6’4” 201 lbs | HV71 #13
2015, 2nd round, 58th overall | Columbus Blue Jackets
Regular Season: 48GP 13G 7A 20P | Playoffs: 9GP 2G 2A 4P
The big-bodied centre has made a name for himself in the SHL this season as a net front presence and intense forechecker. In this game, Stenlund demonstrated both of these abilities, and also grabbed an assist with a quick low-to-high pass while under pressure.
Stenlund is a highly-skilled stickhandler. His hands are smooth and quick, can receive difficult passes with ease, and utilizes his entire wingspan to deke and confuse opponents. This skill was most evident while engaged in battle boards, and the escape immediately following.
Although Stenlund’s first few steps greatly inhibit his stops/starts, his top-end speed is actually quite good, as is his acceleration. This could be a reason why he’s so effective as a forechecker and backchecker, where he can utilize his speed and reach to disrupt plays, but has struggles with defensive zone coverage and in transition.
Apart from one instance, Stenlund’s vision and playmaking ability were not demonstrated, but it remains a strength. His game has evolved a fair bit this season after a disappointing first season after being drafted, and Stenlund has become a legitimate top-nine forward on a top SHL team.
G | 6’4” 198 lbs | HV71 #30
2014, 4th round, 95th overall | New York Islanders
Regular Season: 0.943 SV%, 1.34 GAA | Playoffs: 0.929 SV%, 1.84 GAA
While Friday’s game was far from Söderström’s best, he still demonstrated his quality tools. He was beat twice in the opening 2:15, including off a low shot from the high slot—one that he should’ve stopped. Afterwards, he clamped down and stymied every opportunity after.
The tall, technically-gifted goaltender plays aggressively at the top of his crease. Along with his angling and puck tracking, Söderström’s positioning makes him incredibly tough to beat. He’s relaxed and composed—rarely does he scramble.
Söderström covers a huge portion of the net in the butterfly, perhaps why he sometimes spends too much time in the position. His lateral movement and skating aren’t particularly
Söderström is a strong goaltender, meaning that he’s rarely outmuscled in his crease. Rebound control with his pads is a strength, although he had trouble freezing the puck with his glove on this Friday night game.