Germany’s DEL is a fun to watch, competitive league that’s always great for a few surprises. This season has been no different so far.
The biggest surprise this season has been the play of Munich. This is a team that just got promoted for this season and through the first 13 games this year are sitting in third place, just one point behind the leaders. A team that brought in 14 new players to begin the season that never played with one another. A team that is banged up right now with three players out with severe injury & one player just returned who has yet to suit up.
Yet they keep getting wins and points and they’re poised to make a serious run at the cup right now, and its mainly due to the play of Eric Schneider. Schneider is reigniting his career this season through some very timely goal scoring. Watching him play this year you can see that he put in work in the off-season to improve his play without the puck. His positioning has been superb up to this point and Munich is reaping the benefits.
Not to go unmentioned in this team’s success this season, the goaltending duo of Sebastian Elwing and Jochen Vollmer has been solid. Both have made the transition from the Bundesliga to the DEL without any problem at all and they are both making it tough for coach Pat Cortina to decide who to start each game. The fact that this team has performed so well with so little should be a clear sign of bigger things to come from the club. At this point in the season, it’s safe to say that Munich is here to stay in the DEL and the playoffs are in site, with relegation no longer a concern.
Another nice thing this year has been the role change of Hannover’s Tore Vikingstad yet again. I’m a big fan of this guy and he’s really showing how complete a player he truly is. It’s a shame he’s so close to retirement as he would be a great fit centering an energy or shutdown line on any team in the NHL.
For years, he had been just a pure goal scorer. This guy can flat out shoot the puck. I watched games of his from over 10 years ago when he was still playing in Norway and it was something to see. I’m sure it’s the same thing scouts from Sweden saw and it’s why he was signed to play there. Unfortunately he didn’t see the back of the net as often in Sweden and he eventually moved on to play in Germany. And that’s where he transformed into one of the best passers in the league and became the solid playmaker we see today.
Now after last year’s Olympics when he scored four of Norway’s eight goals and had zero assists and then went back to Hannover and netted four goals in three games with only one assist I was thinking he would once again become the goal scorer he was in his youth. But so far this season Vikingstad has no goals. He has not only accepted his role as an elite playmaker, he has taken his game to an even higher level by assisting on almost half of his team’s total goals. And he is the main reason this team is on top of the league right now.
And if Hannover expects to remain on top he is going to have to continue to play great and the team has to hope that Jonas Langmann’s amazing shutout in his first game wasnt a fluke and that the kid is the real deal. If he continues to play well he’ll easily take the No. 1 job from the very unreliable Youri Ziffzer when Ziffzer returns from his knee injury next month.