Posts tagged Nick Spaling
Have you ever wondered what your favorite hockey player would do for a living if they weren’t playing professional hockey? For Nashville Predators forward Matt Halischuk, the answer might surprise you.
Self described as shy and reserved, the right wing also says his biggest non-hockey related aspiration is to become a rock star.
“That would be pretty sweet, I think. No?” Halischuk asked.
The 23-year old plays the guitar but when asked if he played any instruments he said “here or there a little. I just played whatever.”
Teammate and former junior linemante Nick Spaling paints a different picture. “He rocks the guitar,” Spaling said.
When asked if he is any good Halischuk answered “no, not really.”
After winning back-to-back games over the weekend, the Nashville Predators remain undefeated on the season, despite some lingering injuries. Francis Bouillon and Mike Fisher missed the pair of games for Nashville. Martin Erat did not play Saturday night against the Blues.
Fisher is often considered Nashville’s number one center, though, through two games there is no denying the top line for the Predators is David Legwand, Colin Wilson and rookie Craig Smith.
On Friday night, it was interesting to note that Nick Spaling centered Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn rather than Cal O’Reilly. The more skilled forward centered energy players Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk, despite the energy line seeming like a more natural fit for Spaling.
Just because Spaling is seen as a penalty kill specialist, however, does not mean that he cannot fill the top-six forward role admirably.
Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz says Spaling has the talent to step into the top-six forward role. “Spaling can play. He played with elite players when he was in junior. He is capable. He’s a real detailed guy,” Trotz said.
The Nashville Predators avoided potentially losing four of their restricted free agents to unrestricted free agency by signing them to a contract before July 8th.
On Friday, the Predators have a hearing scheduled to determine if their qualifying offers were delivered in a timely manner to their restricted free agents. If an independent arbitrator rules in favor of the RFAs, they would become unrestricted free agents, free to sign with whatever team they want with no compensation awarded to Nashville.
Predators forward Sergei Kostitsyn has filed for salary arbitration. Kostitsyn led Nashville in goal scoring with 23 tallies while earning only $550 000.
In total, 23 players filed for arbitration. A player can still sign a new deal with his team before the arbitration hearing takes place. One of the 23 players filing for arbitration has already signed a new contract. Columbus signed Marc Methot for another 4-years. The contract is worth $12 Million.
Arbitration cases will be heard between July 20th and August 4th.
Of course, it is still possible that Kostitsyn is declared an unrestricted free agent. A hearing has been set for Friday, July 8th to determine whether or not the Predators met all the appropriate deadlines in filing their qualifying orders to the Predators group of restricted free agents. There is a dispute as to whether or not the RFAs received the offers in time to be valid.
Other Nashville restricted free agents of note include Cal O’Reilly, Nick Spaling and Matt Halischuk.
Jordin Tootoo’s goal and 4 assists in six games during Nashville’s Western Conference Quarter Finals series against the Anaheim Ducks is considered by many to be a key turning point of the series in the Predators favor.
Tootoo assisted on Jerred Smithson’s overtime winning goal in Game 5, as well as both of Nick Spalings goals in the series clinching Game 6 last Sunday at Bridgestone Arena.
As a result of his slick play-making abilities, Tootoo has been attracting national attention.
Wednesday, Tootoo was named the National Hockey League Players Association’s (NHLPA) player of the week for his role during the quarter finals.
In previewing the upcoming Western Conference semi-final between the Predators and Canucks, Radio Team 1040′s Jeff Paterson points out that in the last month, from March 24th, Tootoo (5 goals, 7 assists) has more points than last year’s Hart Trophy winner, and Canucks captain, Henrik Sedin (1 goal, 11 assists).
A year ago to the day, the Nashville Predators had the lead in a pivotal game 5 Western Conference Quarter Final against Chicago with under a minute to play. Nashville went on the power play, but then surrendered a shorthanded goal, tying the game. As all Predators fans remember so well, Nashville went on to lose the game and the series in game six at home.
- Legwand’s empty-net goal was insurance for Nashville, who defeated the Ducks 4-2
Sunday night, history was made, but not repeated when the Predators went into the final minute of game 6 against the Ducks with a one-goal lead, and on the power play.
Instead of giving up a goal, David Legwand scored in the empty net.
The first ever player to be drafted by the Nashville Predators added the insurance giving the Predators the two-goal lead with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.
“It’s a huge thing for us to move on and get to continue playing. It means a bit. We get to play in round two. There are only going to be 8 teams playing, so that’s exciting for us to get a chance to do,” Legwand said when asked what it meant for him personally to be moving on to the next round.
In the NHL, teams can win games on the strength of their power play. The penalty kill, likewise, can keep a team in games. For the Nashville Predators, while their penalty kill has improved steadily from the start of the season, the power play has gone in the other direction. Through 21 games, Nashville has scored 9 power play goals in 78 opportunities — but two of them came Friday afternoon when the team was already losing 4-0 in the third period to the Wild.
It is too early to know if the late efforts from Nashville on Friday will act as a turning point in sparking the Predators offense. But one thing is for certain, when you struggle to score goals at even strength, the man advantage can be a real difference maker. And the Predators have struggled to score goals as of late, scoring just 3 times in the last three games.
When asked about the Predators scoring woes, Coach Barry Trotz said “One of the biggest mistakes that the Nashville Predators make is when we say well we got to score lots of goals. All of a sudden we are not Nashville Predator-like and therefore we will lose 6-4 or something like that. That’s not the way we play. Our team identity is that we play solid team defense as a group and piggy back some of our offense off of that.”
This year marks Jordin Tootoo’s 7th campaign in the National Hockey League. At the start of the season, Tootoo was on the Predators’ fourth line, used as an agitator, the spark of the energy line. Tootoo played 9:18 in the home opener against the Anaheim Ducks, 10:59 against Chicago on the road and then 8:32 against the Blues back home in Nashville.
During the fourth game of the season, Marcel Goc got injured against the Washington Capitals. Goc suffered a separated shoulder on a hit by Niklas Backstrom. With Goc out, the lines had to be reshuffled, especially with other injuries at the position of forward plaguing Nashville. Center Matthew Lombardi has been out since after the Chicago game and Martin Erat was just returning to action after missing a couple games with back spasms.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Calgary Flames, Nashville boasted a league worst penalty kill-off rate at a little over 64%. After Marcel Goc suffered a separated shoulder, the Predators recalled Nick Spaling from Milwaukee to replace the German Olympian.
Spaling is considered to be a specialist on killing penalties. Despite the classification, Spaling does not feel any added pressure now that he has been recalled. “Not really, I don’t think so. They have the guys here that are really good at penalty killing. Sometimes it’s the way it goes. It’s only 4 or 5 games into the season. Sometimes the other teams get the bounces on their power play.”
The 22 year old impressed the coaching staff during training camp but couldn’t crack the roster and got sent to Milwaukee. Spaling did not have to go through waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League. His waiver wire ineligibility may have played a role in the decision to send Spaling to the Admirals, but Spaling isn’t going to spend any time worrying about it.
First it was Pekka Rinne who had to leave the third period of Nashville’s season opener. Marty Erat was next, out with back spasms and placed on injured reserve. Matthew Lombardi then suffered a concussion against Chicago last Wednesday. And during Saturday’s OT loss to the Washington Capitals, the Predators lost Marcel Goc to a nasty hit from behind by Niklas Backstrom. Goc is expected to miss the next 2-4 weeks.
These are not minor losses for the Predators. Rinne is Nashville’s starting goaltender. Erat and Lombardi are two thirds of the Predators’ top line. And Goc is a defensive forward with an offensive upswing with two goals in four games. While injuries can prove to be devastating for a team, they also provide an opportunity for other, less prominent players to step up their game or, in some cases, to just get in it.