Just one goal in SHL’s regular season – then seven goals in the playoffs. In a recent interview with Uffe Bodin for HockeySverige.se, Axel Jonsson Fjällby looks back on a roller coaster year that allowed him to take many new lessons with him to North America.
“It was the first time I felt that I was in a big dip,” he tells hockeysverige.se.
Axel Jonsson Fjällby is in the middle of Washington Capital’s training camp for the 2019-2020 season. He was at Capitals training camp the same time last year, too. But last year he eventually left North America in mid-November and returned to Djurgården for another season in the SHL.
After a breakthrough season in 2017-2018, the forward found it difficult to find his way back after returning to Sweden. During the regular season, he scored just one goal in 36 games. Then in the playoffs the 21-year-old scored seven goals in 19 games during Djurgården’s road to the SM silver, and was the team’s leading goal scorer together with Sebastian Strandberg.
He tells hockeysverige.se about the lessons he takes from the tough year.
Axel Jonsson Fjällby, there has been a lot going on this year. What do you say about 2019?
“Well I can agree with you, it has been a little bit of a rougher season. It became better towards the playoffs though.
“well, it became much better towards the end.”
You started your season in Hearshy in the AHL and then came home in Novermber, I think. Can that be a part of why it took a long time for you to get into it? To change from a lager rink, etc.
“Yes, I defiantly think that. It is not common to get into a season when it has already started, getting onto the team, tactics, which have changed and just getting into it: I played a game the same day that I arrived in Sweden. So yeah, it was different to get into it, since you were not there from the start. So, I think that was a part of it and then it was hard to get into, which made my mood and self-confidence gradually get worse.”
Yes, exactly. I am thinking as well, about expectations. Since you had a really good rookie season with Djurgården. And then you get in and people are expecting that “now he is going to double his points”. Did you feel the pressure that people were expecting it from you?
“If I am going to be honest, that was nothing I wanted to focus on, regarding what expectations other people had. However, I had quite high expectations of myself. So I thought that I would want to score more points and that changed the way I played. Because I don’t score a lot of goals, that’s not my nature. So, I think that is one reason to why it went a little bit worse. I think that I found my way back to the way I played the season before, during the playoffs though, and then the goals came as well.”
Can you identify the turnaround point? Because you had one goal throughout the season and then I think you had 7 in the playoffs. Was there some kind of turnaround where you felt that you got your self-confidence back?
“Well, I feel that some games felt better, even though I did not gather any points. And then my level was really low in the games where I did not do well. I think my turnaround point was in the quarter-final when we played Skellefteå. I think I scored two goals that game and my self-confidence came back a little bit. Because I felt that I got a re-start when the playoffs started. And when that game went well, and we won, then my self-confidence rose: the next game went well as well, so I felt even more confidence and then it continued that way.”
And now you are going back to North America. How important do you think it is that you had a strong playoff?
“I think it is important. I also think it is important to see the season, since it was the first time I really went through a down period, since I have learned a lot from it. To learn how to react and what to do to get out of it. And learn what not to do. I think I learned quite a bit about it.”
What do you see ahead of you? Season 19/20.
“Firstly, I am very excited and pumped. Then it is hard to say what will happen. Well, the goal is to gain a spot with the Washington Capitals, as fast as possible. Otherwise, it’s the AHL and work hard and try to learn the American game more to be able to gain a spot.”
Was it rough when you where there last fall?
“Yes it was different. With a smaller rink and the way they play. However, I do not think it will take that long to learn.”
Do you get used to it during the time you will be there?
“Yes, it is only getting better and better. I have been there with the national team as well and I like to play on a smaller rink, so I think it will go well.”
Interview by Uffe Bodin for HockeySverige.se
Translated by Sofie Bengsston