Two years ago, Jonas Gustavsson
was a goalie trying to find his way with Farjestads in the Swedish Elite League.
Now he is heading to the Olympics, albeit as one of two backups to star goalie Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
“I don’t how much I am going to play,” Gustavsson said. “Lundqvist is a pretty good goalie. I’m just going to go and do my best and try to support the team. If I get the chance I want to make the best of it.”
The turn in fortunes for Gustavsson was shown most dramatically in his playoff performances where he hacked his goals against average from 3.73 goals per game to 1.03 and sparked a flurry of NHL offers.
“Things change quickly, but you have to stay focused. You can’t settle down and feel happy about it. You have to keep working because as quick as it can go in the right direction you can go the other way.”
“Of course, you have to pinch yourself a little bit. You realize things have happened so fast for me if you look back a couple of years ago. That makes me work even harder because I know where I want to be and know I have to work hard for it.”
Gustavsson likes a team stacked with high-end talents such as Niklas Lidstrom, Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg and the Sedin twins.
“I think we have pretty good chance. Everybody talks about Russian and Canada,” he said. “Maybe they have the biggest stars but possibly that is good for Sweden. Nobody talks about us and to come from the outside and go the whole way would be very exciting. To me, Sweden’s chances are as good as anybody’s.”
The experience of watching and practicing with an elite goalie, Gustavsson said, will happen long after the Games end. Gustavsson has benefitted from working with veteran goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere and goaltending consultant Francois Allaire.
“It’s going to be huge for me. I feel already the energy level is higher and I can see how hard I have to work. I see a goalie who works on every puck. It keeps me going. It’s a perfect situation right now.”
It will be a similar situation in Vancouver.
“No matter what happens you learn something if you play at this level,” said Gustavsson. “If you have a good or a bad game, you always gain experience.”