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NHL Global Series preview: Swedish stars get to shine at home

With every team playing at least one match in every arena in recent seasons, long journeys are nothing unusual, but for four NHL teams their schedule involves a journey to Sweden this week.

What is NHL Global Series?

Hockey is one of the few truly global sports and since 2017 the NHL has aimed to grow its worldwide audience by showcasing their stars overseas.

The initiative has seen trips to Asia, Europe and Australia, and this week the roadshow hits the Avicii Arena in Stockholm for four days.

Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators and Minnesota Wild make the journey to Europe to play two regular-season games each.

All four teams have a Swedish contingent playing, so it's a rare chance for them to perform in front of a home audience, while the fans get a scarce opportunity to witness their heroes in action first-hand without having to cross the Atlantic.

Detroit Red Wings vs Ottawa SenatorsThursday, Nov. 16 at 2 PM ETAvicii Arena, Stockholm, SwedenNHL Network
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Detroit Red WingsFriday, Nov. 17 at 2 PM ETAvicii Arena, Stockholm, SwedenNHL Network
Minnesota Wild vs Ottawa SenatorsSaturday, Nov. 18 at 11 AM ETAvicii Arena, Stockholm, SwedenNHL Network
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Minnesota WildSunday, Nov. 19 at 8 AM ETAvicii Arena, Stockholm, SwedenNHL Network

Wild hoping to put rough patch behind them

Three of the four teams headed to Stockholm will be disappointed with their seasons so far, and Minnesota in particular will see the trip as a chance to start a new chapter in the campaign.

The Wild were booed off their home ice on Sunday night after an 8-3 loss to the Dallas Stars made it three defeats in a row.

Only the shambolic San Jose Sharks have allowed more goals than Minnesota's 64, and, while neither of the goaltending duo of Marc-Andre Fleury and Sweden's Filip Gustavsson has a save percentage over 88, it is fair to say they haven't been given much help by the defense.

At least Karlstad, Sweden native Jonas Brodin has been doing his part. The 30-year-old comfortably leads the team with a +7 rating, while at the other end of the ice his fellow Karlstadian Joel Eriksson Ek tops the Wild's goalscoring charts with eight.

Another Swede, Marcus Johansson, has eight points in 15 games for the Wild, so they can expect a much warmer reaction from the crowd in Stockholm than they received in Saint Paul on Sunday.

The Wild face the Senators on Saturday and the Maple Leafs on Sunday.

Leafs happy to escape scrutiny

Toronto's Calgary-born Swede William Nylander was pictured travelling to a Leafs game by subway recently, going unnoticed by the fans around him.

The star winger is unlikely to be afforded that kind of privacy in Stockholm, but his team overall will be glad of the chance to get away from the attention at home.

The Maple Leafs' well-documented struggles and underachievement are a favourite subject for the local media and, having gone into the new season among the favourites to lift the Stanley Cup, they have come under pressure early after a stuttering start.

Three wins in their last four games have lifted the Leafs to fourth in the super-competitive Atlantic Division, but they are only three points ahead of seventh-placed Buffalo.

As has often been the case in recent seasons, an awesome offense is cancelled out by non-existent defense.

Nylander leads the attack with 22 points from 15 games, while team-mate Auston Matthews has scored a league-high 13 goals.

But no Eastern Conference team has allowed more than the Leafs' 54 goals-against this season.

Nylander heads a six-strong Swedish contingent, although Timothy Liljegren is on the long-term injury list.

Click here for the odds to win the 2023/24 NHL Stanley Cup.

Red Wings aiming to stay on a roll

Few would have predicted when this trip was arranged that Detroit would be in the best position of the four teams heading to Sweden.

The Red Wings lost their opener in New Jersey, but went on a five-game winning streak after that.

And, while they have not won back-to-back since, they have continued to pick up points and sit third in the Atlantic, level on points with Toronto.

In his third season with Detroit, 21-year-old Lucas Raymond is the highest-profile Swede on the Red Wings roster and he has contributed five goals to his team's Conference-leading tally of 55.

Raymond is tied for third on the team in points with 11, behind Dylan Larkin with 17 and Alex DeBrincat with 15.

In Stockholm, the Wings face Atlantic Division rivals Ottawa and Toronto on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

Senators out to build on recent promise

Ottawa are unlikely to figure in the post-season, but they arrive in Sweden with two wins in their last three including a 6-3 victory over Toronto last week.

Backup goalie Anton Forsberg and defenseman Erik Brannstrom are the only Swedish players on the Senators' active roster, but franchise legend and Hall-of-Famer Daniel Alfredsson has been on the practice ice with the team to offer advice.

Although the Sens sit with a 6-7-0 record, they already have seven players with more than 10 points: Tim Stutzle, Claude Giroux, Brady Tkachuk, Jakob Chychrun, Mathieu Joseph, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Jake Sanderson.

The Sens take on Detroit in the opening game of the series on Thursday, before a clash with Minnesota on Saturday.

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