To Viktor Fasth go the spoils

2/26/2013 - NHL Viktor Fasth Anaheim Ducks + more

One of the most surprising stories of the 2013 season has been the outstanding play of Anaheim Ducks goaltender Viktor Fasth. The 30-year-old Swede burst onto the NHL scene with an unblemished 8-0-0 record -- before losing Monday night to the Los Angeles Kings -- and has already earned himself a two-year extension with the team. Fasth tells ESPN.com's Katie Strang about his unorthodox path to the NHL and how he stays sharp in this week's installment of the New York Minute.

STRANG: Big news on the recent extension. How did it feel to get that done?

FASTH: It feels great. I really like it here -- the organization and the team and everything -- so it feels great.

STRANG: What does that tell you about the team's belief in what you're doing?

FASTH: They show that they believe in me and trust in me. Like I said, it feels great. I've enjoyed it ever since I got here, so it's great to be able to do this deal.

STRANG: What has the last month been like for you?

FASTH: It's been good, the team has been playing really good. [We] started the season really good, so we've got to keep working hard to keep it up. That's what we have to do.

STRANG: How would you explain the success you've been having?

FASTH: I don't know. The team has been playing really good, we've shown ... we've let the first goal in [the] first couple games, but we've been coming back and ended up winning. I think we've shown a real strength of this team.

What can you say about your path to the NHL?

FASTH: Yeah, I mean some guys get to play in the NHL when they're 18, some when they're 30. Obviously, I'm 30, so I mean I really love being here. It's been a long way, but it's been worth it, every second of it.

STRANG: Did you always get the sense you'd make it to the NHL?

FASTH: No [laughing].

STRANG: That's honest.

FASTH: I played in the second league in Sweden until two years ago, then I got the chance to play with AIK [of the Swedish Elite League], got to meet a great goalie coach there whose name is Stefan Persson. Also, I worked with my mental coach, Martin Blom. We've been working really hard the last few years. They helped me to develop my game, to try to keep it the same way I play here, so just to try to trust my basics.

STRANG: How much did that mental coach help, especially when you were out with the knee injury while playing for AIK?

FASTH: Exactly. That was the year I started to work with him. I mean, I was away from hockey for 11 months and we worked really hard during that period to get back and to be stronger when you get back. He helps me a lot and has been helping me all along the way.

STRANG: For those of us who don't know exactly what a mental coach is or does --

FASTH: I think it's different for every guy. It may not work for everybody, but me and him have a really good relationship and we know what to do, so it's been working out great. I like having that as part of my game, so that ... works for me

STRANG: A lot of people says goalies tend to develop later. Do you still feel like your game is getting better?

FASTH: Yeah. I mean, you're never fully learned, you know? You always have to work hard every day to develop your game. Skaters are getting faster, getting better at shooting the puck, so you always have to work hard as a goalie to develop your game and you can never be satisfied with what you're doing on the ice. Always have to work harder.

STRANG: What have you learned from playing with Teemu Selanne?

FASTH: He's a great guy. He's a great athlete. He's the oldest guy on the team but he works like probably one of the hardest guys. He's really a big role model for everybody, the way he puts his effort in the game and always is working hard.

STRANG: What has been going well for the team that has allowed you guys to do some damage in the West?

FASTH: I think we have been sticking to our game plan pretty much and we work hard every game. We've been able to win some games where we might've played a bit less good, you know, but we've still been battling through games like those games and [we've] ended up winning. That's a good habit to have -- to win even when you don't play that good some days.

STRANG: Any plans to celebrate your extension?

FASTH: No. My family got here [last week], so we're moving in to our new apartment. Just trying to get everything settled there.

STRANG: Well, at least that's some good news to bring home.

FASTH: Yeah, it's been a long time since I've seen them, so it's good to have them here.