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Brunnstrom to make Wings' debut

Swede to play on line with Eaves, Emmerton vs. Caps

Friday, 10.21.2011 / 6:36 PM ET / News
By Zack Crawford  - DetroitRedWings.com Intern
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Brunnstrom to make Wings\' debut
DETROIT – As fellow Swede Nicklas Lidstrom takes the ice for his 1,500th game on Saturday night against the Washington Capitals, forward Fabian Brunnstrom will make his Red Wings’ debut.

Signed by the Wings in early October, Brunnstrom played his first 99 NHL games with the Dallas Stars. He scored 17 goals as a rookie and accumulated 40 points over the course of two seasons before spending the second half of last season in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies and the Texas Stars.

Although his last NHL game was more than 18 months ago, Brunnstrom isn’t worried about the time spent in the minors. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I mean, I’ve played in NHL games before, but now I’m going to play for the Red Wings and it’s going to be special. I just want to take advantage of the moment.”

Brunnstrom earned that opportunity by proving he deserved a roster spot at last month’s training camp. His performance in his professional tryout (PTO) was enough to get him back in the NHL, where he’ll toil Saturday night on the fourth line with forward Patrick Eaves and rookie center Cory Emmerton.

Brunnstrom’s value increased when forward Jan Mursak fractured his ankle in late September, an injury that could sideline him for three months. After beating out 35-year-old center Ryan Johnson for a spot, the Wings signed Brunnstrom to a one-year, two-way unrestricted free agent contract.

Coach Mike Babcock is positive about Brunnstrom’s future with the team.

“I think Brunnstrom’s a top-six forward; he’s going to play a lot on this team,” Babcock said. “He’s a real good player. We’ll just work that out.”

Brunnstrom is well-aware of what it takes to maintain that status.

“To be a top six forward on this team it’s going to be pretty hard with guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk,” Brunnstrom said of Babcock’s affirmation. “But at the same time it’s a lot of fun to be able to practice with them every day and pick up a thing or two, and try to be better in something that I try to do every day.”

While the Wings picked up their first four wins of the season, Brunnstrom was busy getting physical off the ice.

“When you’re not playing you have a lot more energy and you can work in the gym or work after practices,” he said. “You do small stuff to make yourself better and to take advantage of the extra time.”
 
At 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds Brunnstrom is capable of playing a physical game while protecting the puck and scoring goals. The Wings are hoping he can revitalize his career in the same way that Andreas Lilja, Mikael Samuelsson and Danny Cleary did when they came to Detroit prior to the 2005-06 campaign.

It doesn’t hurt that the 26-year-old has six other countrymen on the team to mesh with and find a comfort zone in the locker room and on the ice. And who better to start his career under than Lidstrom.

“It’s going to be pretty special,” Brunnstrom said of the milestone Lidstrom is projected to hit on Saturday night. “I mean, 1,500 games – that’s pretty cool.”

With 99 games under his belt, he’s only a several hundred games away from the elder Swede’s mark.

“I’m trying to be the best player that I can be, and I’m just 26, so I think I have a lot of years to go,” Brunnstrom said. “I’ll just continue to work hard every day and see how good I can be.”

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80