On Saturday, the National Hockey League season will reach the one-month mark. So far, 11 Black Hawks alumni have appeared on NHL ice. Almost every one of them has seen COVID-19 disruptions firsthand as the league has nimbly adjusted several times when teams have had to shut down due to exposures or positive cases.
However, the games have continued. There are just two matchups on the schedule tonight, but as many as six different former Hawks could play tomorrow.
Here’s what has happened so far…
Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 03/04)
During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Pavelski was at the top of his game, and he has maintained that form with a marvelous start to the new season. Pavelski recorded his 800th career NHL point on January 26th. That assist is one of 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) he has tallied in just ten games. Additional power play time is having a big impact: Pavelski already has nine power play points after recording 11 all of last winter in 67 regular season games.
Craig Smith – Boston Bruins
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 08/09)
A strong positive first impression can help make a difference anytime you go to work someplace new. Smith spent his first nine NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators. His first two goals after signing with the Bruins were game-winners, including a score which settled Boston’s overtime win against Pittsburgh on January 26. Following a four-day layoff, Boston is scheduled to play tonight against the New York Rangers. Smith goes into the game with three goals and two assists in ten appearances.
Vinnie Hinostroza – Florida Panthers
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 12/13)
Hinostroza has played in four games with his new club. The most recent of those was on February 5th versus the Nashville Predators. That game was the 250th regular season appearance of his NHL career, making him one of eight former Hawks to reach that milestone. Hinostroza is still seeking his first point as a Panther. Florida has raced to a 7-1-2 start.
Zach Sanford – St. Louis Blues
The Blues are seeing a lot of different territory this winter. Along with Minnesota and Colorado, St. Louis has been realigned with teams primarily from the Pacific Division. It has worked well for the club; the Blues currently hold second place with 16 points. Sanford has played in all but one game, with one goal and one assist. He produced the decisive score in St. Louis’ January 30th win at Anaheim, helping the Blues dash to a big lead in the early minutes of a 6-1 victory.
Brandon Montour – Buffalo Sabres
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 14/15)
During the 2019/20 schedule, Montour missed the first month of the year due to injury. Fortunately he has had no such difficulties at the start of this season. However, a winter storm and the pandemic has sidelined the Sabres as a group. Buffalo hasn’t played since the end of January, with no games anticipated until Monday at the earliest. Over ten contests, Montour has two assists and has been ranging between 17 and 26 minutes per night. Like Hinostroza, he recently made his 250th NHL appearance.
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
Only the Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews (11) has more goals than Boeser’s nine. He is currently in a three-way tie for second in the league with Connor McDavid and Tyler Toffoli. Boeser’s 15 points are level with Matthews and Anze Kopitar for eighth place in the NHL. His scoring has tended to come in bunches: Boeser already has four multi-goal games. He is 16 goals away from 100 in his NHL career and would become the fourth former Hawk in that group (Pavelski, Smith, and Jason Blake are the others).
Jacob MacDonald – Colorado Avalanche
(Waterloo: 2009/10 – 2010/11)
Returning to the NHL for the first time since October of 2018, MacDonald’s two appearances have doubled his total for games at that level. The 2019/20 season was cut short before he could be called up by the Avalance, but this year he has already been in the lineup. It would perhaps have already been a bigger number of games, but Colorado has not played since February 2nd, with four matchups postponed and a fifth that will not be played as scheduled tomorrow.
Cal Petersen – Los Angeles Kings
(Waterloo: 2011/12 – 2013/14)
“Wins” are not an ideal measure of performance for baseball pitchers or hockey goalies. Petersen’s record is currently 1-4-1. However, his goals-against average (2.56) and save percentage (.925) are both solid, and each figure is slightly better than the corresponding marks from his earlier NHL stints. Perhaps most the most notable aspect of Petersen’s season is that he has made six starts in 12 Kings games, balancing crease time with veteran Jonathan Quick.
Patrick Russell – Edmonton Oilers
Russell has been at hand for the Oilers on the team’s taxi squad of reserves. Thus far, he has been limited to one game: January 26th in Winnipeg. That night, he recorded the sixth assist of his NHL career - setting up a first period goal by Adam Larsson - in a little less than nine minutes of ice time.
Mark Friedman – Philadelphia Flyers
(Waterloo: 2012/13 – 13/14)
The Flyers are among the teams affected by scheduling shifts this week. A Tuesday game against Washington was not played and two games with New Jersey later this week have already been postponed. Friedman has seen anywhere between 5 and 16 minutes of ice time in his three appearances. The defenseman last played on January 26th against New Jersey.
Mikey Anderson – Los Angeles Kings
(Waterloo: 2015/16 – 2016/17)
Anderson squeaked-in his initial NHL games last February and March before the rest of the season was cancelled. So far this year, he has been an integral part of the Kings’ lineup. Playing in every game, there have only been three instances where he has logged less than 20 minutes of ice time. His season-high was just short of 25 minutes against Colorado on January 21st. Anderson has recorded a pair of assists to date. Only 11 of the 102 players drafted ahead of Anderson in 2017 have appeared in an equal or greater number of games this season.
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