STOCKHOLM — The Ericsson Globe is very round and very red.
Hey, sometimes your first impressions are the most basic.
Inside the Globen (pronounced GLUE-ben), the world’s largest spherical building, the interior is red except for four large pillars in the “corners” of the oval stands. So, I stand by those first two thoughts.
The shape makes it an interesting venue for special events such as last week’s games between the Lightning and Sabres.
The loges at the top — not quite what we think of as luxury boxes but very comfortable — might be the highest from which I’ve ever looked down on a rink. Maybe it’s best that officials constructed the press box out of tables in the second level of stands.
The arena doesn’t have a full-time tenant. The Djurgarden hockey team plays in the attached Hovet Arena. For big games — such as the Swedish Hockey League championship, the world championships and NHL games — officials build a rink at the larger Globe.
Unlike at NHL rinks, fans sat back from the glass for the two Lightning-Sabres games instead of right on it. But that didn’t hurt the atmosphere. Neutral-site games can be odd because there isn’t a home crowd. Neither the Lightning nor Sabres had a fan edge in the first game Friday. The Lightning had a few more followers in the second Saturday.
In some ways, not having a home crowd made the games better. A bad game by either team didn’t diminish the enthusiasm.
“The fans were incredible,” the Lightning’s Tyler Johnson said. “It was really fun to play. The difference is having both sides of fans. Really, the crowd was just electric regardless of what happened. Usually there’s more boos.”
There crowds were a mix of Americans, Swedes and other Europeans. The number of Americans who made the trip surprised me, but those who had been at other NHL events outside North American weren’t.
The Globe promotes its history. On the interior structure, there are doodle-style paintings of the major events that have taken place there, such as the 2000 Eurovision Song Contest — an annual international competition that’s big in Europe — and the 1989 world hockey championships.
One of the Globe’s coolest features: Skyview, a gondola ride along the exterior. A small glass gondola that comfortably fits 10 people provides a ride to the top and a panoramic view of the city.
Those who fear heights are mostly okay because of the ride’s slow pace, but the trip down can be unnerving when you can’t see the track you’re on.
Quick hits with Brayden Point
First car: A Jeep Grand Cherokee his parents bought for him when he got his driver’s license. He drove it for five years and was in the NHL when he bought a new car.
Favorite class as a kid: No consistent favorite; it changed by the year according to his teacher. One class that stood out was Home Economics in Grade 11, learning cooking basics.
Bucket-list destination: Greece. His ideal trip would feature the ancient monuments and time on the beach.
So … I had a thought
• I can’t imagine what last week was like for Victor Hedman. The Lightning’s Swedish defenseman had a tough time putting his feelings into words after Saturday’s game. The heavy Lightning crowd chanted his name after the team’s second straight win. His team went to his home country, and it won two games. He said it was very special, tremendous, unbelievable, outstanding and very special again. This experience was up there with having made the Stanley Cup final for Hedman, maybe even surpassing that given the Lightning didn’t win the Cup in 2015. Hedman is a Swedish NHL player, both parts of that description holding equal importance for him. Playing an NHL game in his home country created in him an undefinable level of pride.
• No one likes when too many challenges and reviews disrupt a game’s flow. But I have mixed feelings about a failed challenge getting a team penalized. Coaches shouldn’t be able to challenge anything and everything on a whim, but they shouldn’t be afraid to use that tool, either. Alex Killorn may have interfered with goalie Carter Hutton on Hedman’s second-period goal in Saturday’s 5-3 win. But Buffalo didn’t challenge it because its penalty kill was struggling. Coaches should have to be confident to challenge, but there should be a little wiggle room. That being said, I don’t know what that would look like.
• We thought the Lightning got bitten badly by the injury bug last week. Though the injuries piled up quickly, it’s nothing compared to what the Avalanche are enduring. Colorado’s entire top line is hurt, plus the starting goalie and a defenseman. Yeesh. It’s hard enough when one great player — Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog or Nathan MacKinnon — goes down. Imagine the Lightning losing Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Point all at once.
Tyler Johnson’s Stockholm highlights: 3. Swedish meatballs 2. Vasa Museum 1. Walking around Old Town
Things I ate in Sweden: 3. Kardemummabullar (cardamom bun) 2. Gravad lax (salt-cured salmon) 1. Roasted reindeer
The fourth line’s goals Saturday: 3. Pat Maroon’s rebound 2. Yanni Gourde’s steal off a faceoff 1. Maroon’s tip
Questions for the Lightning
Are the players tuning out Cooper’s message?
This week’s reader question comes from @boudreau_dr on Twitter. It came before the two games against the Sabres, but I’d still like to address it. No, I don’t believe they are tuning out Cooper. The players know the team’s issues. That they haven’t fixed them is mostly a matter of habit building. The Lightning want to shift the way they play, and we saw what that looks like in Sweden. A massive overhaul isn’t needed, but even small tweaks take time to create a new habit. We saw this coming together in pieces, and last week we saw what it can look like as a whole. The next step is consistency.