Gustavsson grew up watching Wings

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:12 PM ET

DETROIT - The Dallas Cowboys are America’s football team and there’s a strong case to be made for the Detroit Red Wings as Sweden’s favourite NHL squad.

With captain Nicklas Lidstrom and a lineup of top Scandinavians the past 10 years, the Wings have made quite an impression on fans back home, including a gangly young goalie from Danderyd.

“When I was about 10 or 12 years old, it was Detroit,” Jonas Gustavsson said Friday, prior to playing the Wings. “And Colorado, because of Peter Forsberg. It was pretty much those two teams because they always met in the playoffs. Those were the teams the media followed back home.”

“They would show five or six NHL games a week in regular season and just about every playoff game. I stayed up to see a lot of them, because my season would be over by then. Or I would tape them and watch the next morning. It was fun to see.”

The Leafs and Wings rarely meet, but Gustavsson recalls facing them in his rookie season and playing half of two exhibition games.

“I know some of the guys there and played with them (on club and national teams),” Gustavsson said.

MIKE IN, MATT OUT

Centre Matthew Lombardi’s first game as a Leaf — and first in almost a year — will be at home, either Saturday night or the Oct. 6 season opener.

Lombardi felt ready to play in one of this weekend’s games against Detroit, but was not chosen to make the trip to Joe Louis Arena.

“There was a little bit more battling (Friday) in practice and now we’ll see how I feel (Saturday),” Lombardi said of ramping up body contact on Friday morning.

“Hopefully I get that game in, but If I can’t, it won’t be a negative. Things have been going really positive for me.”

Winger Mike Brown did start Friday’s game, successfully catching up to the rest of the team after a groin injury put him a week behind at training camp.

“I did all my core training and the bike, but when it came to skating, I couldn’t do much,” Brown said of his slow pace in September. “It was hard to push yourself when you were out there all the time skating by yourself. But with all the guys here in camp, the competition for jobs and the skill level, I was able to get back into shape pretty quick.”

LOOSE LEAFS

The Leafs will be staying in Toronto in the days leading up to Thursday’s opener against Montreal and Saturday’s follow-up against the Senators, but will go to a secluded setting for a few days during a full week off ... The Leafs will be staying in Toronto in the days leading up to Thursday’s opener against Montreal and Saturday’s follow-up against the Senators, but will go to a secluded setting for a few days during a full week off ... Saturday is the Road Hockey To Conquer Cancer event at Ontario Place, hoping to set a world record for participation. NHL stars such as Jeremy Roenick and Bryan Trottier will be on hand starting at 9:45 a.m. ... MLSEL president and CEO Richard Peddie and Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen will be inducted into the University of Windsor’s Alumni Hall of Fame on Sunday.


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