With the return of the NHL, Spartan Nation would like to bring back a weekly feature- Spartans in the NHL. There are currently 14 MSU alumni holding roster spots in the NHL, who are all significant contributors on their respective teams.
John-Michael Liles provided a spark to the Maple Leafs offense this week, contributing three assists in as two contests. Toronto still struggled, though, stumbling to a 1-3 record. Liles notched his first assist of the young season on Thursday in a 7-4 loss to the New York Islanders. The defenseman was credited with the primary assist on Nazem Kadri’s first period goal, which gave the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead. Liles struck again in a 5-2 defeat at the hands of New York’s other team, the Rangers. The eight-year veteran recorded two assists, helping Mikhail Grabovski and James van Riemsdyk give Toronto an early 2-0 lead on Saturday. (To see Liles’ pair of assists, check out the highlights here: http://www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2012020058).
Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith started out the year right, tallying two assists and a goal in the first full week of the season. The Blackhawks star blue liner recorded assists in Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Blues and in Thursday’s 3-2 overtime triumph over the Stars. He also made a heads-up save to rob Dallas of a goal at the end of the second period (check out the highlight here: http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/blog/eye-on-hockey/21612676/nhl-daily-fix-friday-jan-25-duncan-keiths-goal-line-save). But Keith’s best performance came on Sunday against the rival Red Wings. The veteran drove home a screaming slap shot past Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard. The powerplay goal was Keith’s first tally of the young season, and it gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead early in the opening period. (You can see the wicked goal here: http://www.nhl.com/ice/recap.htm?id=2012020069. It is the first highlight of the video.)
The trio of Spartans playing for the Oilers – Jeff Petry, Corey Potter and Shawn Horcoff – had a solid week, as Edmonton won once and lost twice. Petry attempted two shots in a pair of games this week while seeing significant playing time at center. Potter played in only one game, Tuesday’s 6-3 loss to the Sharks. Horcoff was credited with an assist on a Jordan Eberle goal in a 4-3 loss to the Flames on Saturday, but the center had a quiet week otherwise.
Goalie Ryan Miller showed flashes of brilliance this week for the Sabres, though he only earned a 1-2 record. The veteran turned away 34 shots and only allowed one goal in a 2-1 victory over the Maple Leafs on Monday. Given a break on Thursday, Miller returned to action on Friday. He racked up 39 saves out of the 41 shots he faced, but the Buffalo offense couldn’t get going, as the Sabres lost 3-1. The goaltender again performed well on Sunday in Washington, but the Capitals offense didn’t give him a chance. Though he turned away numerous promising Washington scoring opportunities, Miller’s 27 saves were not enough to prevent in a 3-2 loss. On the week, Miller posted a .941 save percentage.
The Winnipeg Jets went on a roll this week following a shootout loss to the Bruins on Monday, capturing three consecutive victories since. Center Jim Slater played a significant role in Winnipeg’s winning streak, especially in Tuesday’s 4-2 triumph over the Capitals. Slater put the game out of reach with a tip-in goal in the final minute of the second period, giving the Jets a 4-1 lead. On the week, Slater finished with a plus-minus of +2.
On the opposite end, the Florida Panthers had a less noteworthy week. The squad stumbled to a dismal 0-4 record. Florida defenseman Mike Weaver received solid playing time, averaging well over 25 shifts per game.
Tim Kennedy signed a one year deal with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, January 23. The terms of the deal between the organization and the young center have not been announced, but the deal is predicted by many to be a two-way contract. Kennedy had 30 points in 31 games with the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester before the signing.
Though the season didn’t begin well for the Red Wings, things have gotten better for Detroit. The squad won twice and lost in overtime once this week. Left winger Justin Abdelkader fired up the hometown crowd by winning a fight with Minnesota’s Justin Falk during a 5-3 triumph over the Wild on Friday (Watch Abdelkader take down Falk here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnORKbtN-Ks). Abdelkader led the Red Wings with six fights last season. Teammate Drew Miller didn’t record any significant stats for the team this week.
Right winger Adam Hall notched two assists for the Lightning this week, as Tampa Bay went on to a 2-1 record. Hall was credited with a helper on a Benoit Pouliot goal in the third period of Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Islanders. The 32-year old winger also assisted Victor Hedman’s third period goal on Sunday, which put the nail in the coffin in a 5-1 victory over the Flyers.
Vancouver left winger David Booth is out three to five weeks with a groin strain. He has yet to play this season.
Right winger Corey Tropp suffered a season ending injury while playing for the Rochester Americans, the Sabres’ AHL affiliate. Tropp sustained the injury in the first game of the season in October.
In the AHL:
Defenseman Tory Krug is with the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL affiliate.
Center Chris Mueller is playing on the Milwaukee Admirals, the AHL affiliate for the Nashville Predators.