Wings rookie Brunner battles to end 8-game scoreless streak
Oilers coach Kruger praises Swiss winger
DETROIT VS. EDMONTON
Like many of the Detroit Red Wings' skill players, first-year NHLer Damien Brunner is in the midst of a goal slump.
He carried an eight-game goalless skid to the ice Friday when the Wings play the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
"When I came over here, I knew it was going to be tougher to create scoring chances because the players were bigger and tougher," said Brunner, 27, who shows 10-9-19 numbers through 27 games.
"But I tried to come in with the strategy to just play my game, be confident and when I got the puck, do the same things that I did in Switzerland."
Keeping up with the hectic pace of this lockout-shortened NHL season is proving to be his most daunting challenge.
"I have to admit that's the toughest part so far, playing in so many games and the travelling," Brunner said.
"You have to be mentally focused every night and try to get the best out of yourself. You can't have nights off, be-cause they will take advantage of you.
"Since I got here, I feel like I'm always sleeping, recovering and eating.
"But it's an excellent challenge and you have to learn to grow in this role."
Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger, who coached the Swiss national team for 15 years and is quite familiar with Brunner's work, isn't the least bit surprised by his virtually seamless transition to the NHL.
"When you look at Damien, he dominated the Swiss League the last few years with his speed and his skill level, which is elite," Krueger said. "He's a bit of a late developer, a bit of a late bloomer.
"He wasn't at that complete level as a 20 or 21 year old. At the world tournaments the last few years, he really showed that he could play at this level."
Krueger also believes that Brunner's time during the lockout playing alongside cur-rent Detroit linemate Henrik Zetterberg helped smooth his adjustment period.
"Having time with Zetterberg in Zug was very helpful for him in the transition," Krueger said.
"It made him coming in a lot more comfortable, which could have been possibly something that would have challenged him.
"Being under the wing of somebody like Henrik Zetterberg has certainly added to the puzzle, but Damien Brunner will be an excellent player here for a long time."
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