|Tedenby was all smiles after Monday's win.
calls him “Speedy Gonzalez” or “The Energizer Bunny.” Head coach John MacLean said he’s been a “sparkplug.”
With five points in his first six games, rookie Mattias Tedenby
has the Devils talking. In Monday’s 5-0 win over Washington, he used his breakaway speed to draw his first NHL penalty shot, then finessed his third goal of the season past netminder Braden Holtby.
Not a bad way to start a career.
“He’s confident when he has the puck,” MacLean said. “He enjoys playing. It’s a learning process with him as far as the overall game. I like his energy right now. He’s done a really good job.”
Since being recalled from Albany (AHL) on Nov. 8, Tedenby’s contributions have been hard to overlook. He has meshed well with the team’s veterans, injecting new potency into his line with Elias and Jason Arnott.
On Monday, he assisted on Elias’ first power-play tally of the season, and finished a plus-3 after Arnott notched his team-leading seventh and eighth goals. The trio combined for four goals and two assists as the Devils (6-13-2) won their second straight at home.
What Tedenby lacks in size (he’s listed at 5-10), he more than makes up for in quickness. The Devils’ 2008 first-rounder has brought so much get-up-and-go that his linemates work at reining him in.
“‘You have to sometimes slow down. Sometimes you can go,'" Tedenby said, recounting some of the advice he's received. "You have to read the game a little more. But it’s pretty typical for young guys, I guess."
But isn’t speed a good thing?
“Yeah, sometimes,” said Elias, who leads the Devils with 14 points.
“Sometimes you have to slow down a little bit,” Arnott said. “Sometimes you have to control the play a little bit instead of just going a mile a minute.”
Understand, it’s not about holding him back. It’s about helping him put all that talent to good use.
“It is, because you have to try and make it work as a line and as a unit,” Arnott said. “We know that’s his strength – his speed – but there’s a time to use it. Sometimes you have to let him know when it’s time to slow it down. You want to build up good chemistry. He’s open to listen and that’s all you can ask for.”
Though the pro game isn’t new to the Vetlanda, Sweden, native, the North American game is. Before this year, he spent two-plus seasons with HV 71 of the Swedish Elite League.
From the coach’s perspective, Tedenby’s making great progress.
“For him [the differences are] playing in the smaller rink, not getting lost out there, not cruising all over the rink,” MacLean said. “You still have to play positional hockey. He’s been conscious of that. Sometimes it gets away. He’s a good kid, he’s willing to learn, and you work with it. You can’t teach the things that he has, so you don’t want to take that away from him either.”
MacLean agreed Tedenby might gain by taking his foot off the gas pedal just a bit.
“It’s funny to say, but one of the things for young guys that’s hard to learn is sometimes less is more,” MacLean said. “You don’t want them to slow down too much. You want them to press the puck and pressure when he can. As I said, he’ll learn. He’s exciting at times.”
Tedenby’s in good hands with Elias and Arnott. Elias broke into the NHL as a 20-year-old, Arnott at 19. Together, they're an easy-going group that's firing on all cylinders right now.
“He’s a little more mature than when I came (to the NHL), although I weighed probably as much as he weighs now back then,” Elias recalled. “I was 167, what’s he now?”
Elias yelled across the Devils’ practice locker room to ask Tedenby, who was being interviewed by a reporter.
“I don’t know,” Tedenby answered.
“Well you just weighed in today.”
“I don’t remember.”
“Don’t tell the media,” Tedenby finally said, showing he has as much knack for one-liners as one-timers.
Tedenby is the first Devils rookie to score on a penalty shot since Rocky Trottier did it on Dec. 17, 1984. That was also the first successful penalty shot in team history.