Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
When the Chicago Blackhawks overcame a multi-goal deficit to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3 in overtime at the United Center on Black Friday, Jason Dickinson looked down at the stat sheet after the game and noticed it was just Arvid Söderblom's second win of the season.
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"I couldn't believe that when I saw it," said Dickinson, who had a hat trick in that game. "Obviously our record is what it is, but I thought we should be playing a lot better for him because he's getting us everything. He's stood on his head a lot of nights, and we haven't been able to come up with something for him, so it's nice to get that for him tonight."
Söderblom is still sitting on two wins this season, and both of those wins came against Toronto — once on the road and once at home. He fell to 2-8-1 after Tuesday's 4-3 loss to Nashville, where he went 0-for-3 in the shootout.
"Of course it sucks losing," Söderblom told NBC Sports Chicago. "You want to win every game. Small details like last night, we're in the shootout and anything can happen and it's been close games all year. It's tough losing but you can only focus on the things you can control and your own performance and eventually the wins will come."
Söderblom's goals-against average this season is 3.62 and his save percentage is .884, which rank 49th and 45th, respectively, among the 54 goaltenders with at least eight appearances.
On the surface, those numbers look ugly. But it's deceiving.
According to Money Puck, Söderblom's goals saved above expected is 1.9, which means he's stopped more goals than an average goaltender would. A negative number would mean he's given up more than the average goaltender.
Söderblom's record isn't too reflective of how he's actually played this season.
"As a goalie, if you're playing well, you just have to keep doing what you're doing and be happy with the performance," Petr Mrazek said. "A lot of people tell me that the goalie's like a quarterback sometimes in football where you have to be in your own head and do your stuff first because you have to make a save first to help the team get a win. Sometimes that's not the case, but as a goalie, you're just trying to look after that and look at the performance and see if you can change something or keep it going the way you're doing.
"I feel for him because he's been playing really well — even last year he had some games that we should have won for him, especially for a young guy like that, coming into the league, try to get the confidence high but I think he's been handling it really well."
The Blackhawks also haven't done Söderblom many favors as far as run support goes. In his 10 starts this season, the team is averaging 2.36 goals per game. For context, the Blackhawks finished dead-last in the NHL last season with a goals-per-game average of 2.46.
To take it a step further, the Blackhawks have scored only 53 goals in Söderblom's 26 career NHL starts for a goals-per-game average of 2.04. That's ridiculously low.
"I know what I can do, and I think I've proved that over the games I've played," Söderblom said. "Sometimes we don't score, sometimes I play a great game and we score one goal, it's tough to lose, but you know you did what you could as a goalie. Sometimes there are just bad bounces and unlucky bounces. And then sometimes I've had to play better, too. It's been a lot of different games, but I just try to stay confident.
"I know that's the only thing I can do, focus on my game and try to stay as confident as possible because as a goalie, you want to be giving your team confidence and not being affected if they score. You want to go out there and do the same thing over and over again, and over time, that's going to help me and that's going to help the team, and not to be having ups and downs, just trying to stay calm and focus on your own game."
In a November episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Chicago's goaltending coach Jimmy Waite praised Söderblom for his calm demeanor and said it reminds him a little bit of Corey Crawford.
"Nothing fazes him," Waite said at the time. "We don't focus on wins with him right now. Obviously we want to win, but for him, he knows he's playing well and we have to keep going on the same path and not change anything because one night might've gone wrong. You keep going the same way. He's got a good head on his shoulders that he focuses on the good stuff."
Söderblom carries himself that way off the ice, too.
"Calm is a big thing," Connor Murphy said. "I think he's consistent that way. I don't think he really rides too many highs and lows. I wouldn't be able to handle being a goalie and riding the losses and stuff.
"I feel like you've got to be mentally strong and sometimes be able to put the result away in the back of your mind and not think that that's the be-all, end-all, and focus more on the process of how you're playing and developing more-so and realize you can't completely control the end result because there's plenty of plays where the goalies have zero chance of saving them based on what we're doing in front of them."
The fact Söderblom has only four wins in 26 career NHL starts and 30 appearances is mind-boggling. He agrees, but he's confident things will turn around if he continues to focus on the process more than the results.
"It feels like I should have more wins, but you can't do anything about that," Söderblom said. "You can only be here now and take it day by day and try to improve, and as tough as it is losing, I feel like you almost sometimes learn more from the losses because then you're more focused on what you could've done better. When you win, sometimes you're just feeling great about yourself and not really reflecting or whatever, so I'm trying to see the positives there.
"You're always looking to improve, and when you're losing, you have that hunger to get better and get those wins, and hopefully that will help me improve. The wins will come."