DETROIT – Pardon Damien Brunner if he doesn’t follow the NHL with the scrutiny of a fantasy team owner.
Since arriving in Detroit this season, the Swiss import has been too busy meeting his personal expectations, and proving that he belongs in the NHL.
So when a reporter asked Brunner if he was aware that he was just two-goals shy of the league lead, a bewildered look cloaked his face.
“I am?” Brunner asked. “I have to be honest with you. Since I got here I feel like I have no time to study the stats, because I’m always sleeping and recovering and eating. I know that I have 10, but I have no idea, who is leading the league right now.”
Brunner was definitely wide-eyed Sunday evening, as he helped the Red Wings pour it on the Vancouver Canucks before a sold-out Joe Louis Arena. Brunner enjoyed his first multiple-point game of his NHL career, potting a pair of goals in the Wings’ 8-3 victory.
“I have high expectations for myself and I wanted to come over and prove that I can play in this league,” said Brunner, who also had two assists Sudnay. “When you play with guys like Zetterberg and Fil, and on the power play you have Datsyuk, Kronwall and Cleary, you get chances to score, when you get those chances you have to put them in. I'm happy they're going in right now.”
Brunner scored one of the Wings’ three power-play goals against Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, who entered Sunday’s game with a league-best 1.45 goals-against average. The three power-play goals were a season high for Detroit, who had scored three goal on the power play in the last seven games.
“He’s a great goaltender, you have to keep putting pucks to the net and drive to the net hard and that's what we did,” Brunner said. “It's hard work, work ethic, I thought we did good in part of games that we lost. Finally put 60 minutes together.”
Having played with Brunner in Switzerland during the lockout, Henrik Zetterberg saw glimpses of what he thought would translate to the smaller ice surfaces of the NHL.
“He finds ways to score goals,” Zetterberg said. “He’s always in the right spot and when he gets a chance he’s got a good shot. He’s a hard-working guy and it’s his first year here and it’s fun to see him take advantage of it.”
Brunner now has 10 goals in 19 games, tying him with New Jersey’s David Clarkson for third among league goal-scorers. Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk is next with 11 goals. Five players entered Sunday’s action tied for the league-lead with 12 goals.
“It is amazing,” said Zetterberg, of Brunner’s hot start. “I played with him over in (Switzerland) and I saw that he has that special touch. … He has that kind of sense to be in the right spot in the right time, and he has a good shot. It is remarkable with this tough schedule. He’s not used to playing these many games in a short amount of time. So it’s good to see his consistency and hopefully he can keep it going.”
THREE STARS: 3, Joakim Andersson, DET (2 goals); 2, Damien Brunner, DET (2 goals, 2 assists); 1, Niklas Kronwall, DET (1 goal, 2 assists).
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