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The Desert Dog Blog: Ekman-Larsson Eager to Play with Rundblad Again

Sunday, 12.18.2011 / 12:52 PM / The Desert Dog Blog - by Dave Vest
By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – I spoke to Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Saturday and he’s pleased that fellow Swede David Rundblad will be joining the team at Monday’s practice.

“He’s a really good guy and a good hockey player,” Ekman-Larsson said. “I look forward to seeing him again.”

Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Ekman-Larsson and Rundblad, whom the Coyotes acquired on Saturday along with a 2012 draft pick for Kyle Turris, were teammates for Sweden on several occasions, most recently at the 2011 IIHF Word Championship where they won a silver medal.

Rundblad, 21, told me he was shocked to learn he was traded to Phoenix after Saturday’s practice in Ottawa.

“I didn’t have a clue what was going on, but I guess now I feel pretty good about it,” Rundblad said a few hours after hearing/absorbing the news. “Phoenix is an interesting team with a lot of young defensemen like me so I am looking forward to it.”

Rundblad has played 24 games in his first NHL season. Like most Europeans who make the switch to the NHL he is adjusting to the smaller rinks.

“The game is much faster and everything is more intense so you have to play some situations different than you play in Sweden,” Rundblad said. “It takes some time to get used to but I’ve been here a couple months now and I think I’m getting better and better.”

He added, “I think I have some offensive skill and I try to make good passes and make some good shots, and I like playing power play, but of course I play the “D” as good as I can ... and I think I’ve been improving my defense a lot since I came here.”

David Rundblad. Photo by Getty Images.
Ekman-Larsson, 20, is looking forward to he and Rundblad being teammates again.

“We’ve never been paired together, but I know David and he’s a skilled guy and he’s a real good hockey player,” Ekman-Larsson said. “He moves the puck very well and he has sick hands. It’s fun to watch him play.”

Plus, Ekman-Larsson said, it will be nice to have a second Swede in the dressing room.

“It’s always fun for me to speak Swedish so I look forward to seeing him,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s going to be fun.”

General Manager Don Maloney told reporters on Saturday that he considers Rundblad a future power-play quarterback.

“He’s still learning the North American game -  the small rinks, the speed and strength of the NHL - but his patience with the puck (and) his instincts are second to none, and in my experience those smart players figure out how to adapt and become good players,” Maloney said.

• Rundblad will wear sweater No. 2 for the Coyotes.

• What follows is Maloney’s explanation as to why Jason LaBarbera missed Saturday’s game vs. the New York Rangers: “Jason LaBarbera has a family issue he’s dealing with. Hopefully it’s just for one night.”

• Defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who has missed seven games because of a lower-body injury, skated with teammates over the weekend and is "very close" to returning to the lineup, according to Head Coach Dave Tippett. The Coyotes are 3-4-0 without Klesla and have been outscored 23-17 in those games.

EDITOR’S NOTE:
Contact Dave Vest at thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
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