Injuries have slowed several former Black Hawks during the middle stages of the current NHL season. At least four banged up players have missed some amount of ice time during the past month. For some, that has meant a minor disruption, while a few alumni have been dealing with unfortunate long-term setbacks.
The NHL season would have currently been paused for an Olympic break. However, disruption caused by the coronavirus omicron variant led to a scheduling change, making the NHL All-Star break the most notable hockey event on this side of the planet in recent weeks. On February 5th, Joe Pavelski represented the Dallas Stars during the All-Star contest in Las Vegas.
Here is the latest on what Waterloo alumni have done in the NHL during 2021/22:
Mikey Anderson – Los Angeles Kings
(Waterloo: 2015/16 – 2016/17)
The timing of an upper body injury on January 29th meant that Anderson only missed limited action. He left a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on that day and was only out of the Kings lineup for two other contests before returning February 15th. The Kings’ schedule was light, due to the All-Star break and having a relatively limited number of COVID postponements in December and January. Anderson had played his 100th career regular season game on January 20th. In doing so, he joined ten other Waterloo alumni who have reached triple digit appearances at the NHL level.
Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks
Like Anderson, Boeser is near a career games milestone: he will likely play in his 300th game before February is over. The 24-year-old has already taken the ice 296 times - all as a member of the Canucks - including 43 of 49 Vancouver matchups this season. Boeser had a season-best three points (one goal, two assists) in the Canucks 5-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on January 27th. He has gone on to notch at least one point in four of Vancouver’s last five games, including the game-winning goal against the Chicago Blackhawks in a 3-1 January 31st tilt.
Jackson Cates – Philadelphia Flyers
(Waterloo: 2016/17 – 2017/18)
Recent weeks have seen Cates wear out a path between Philadelphia and the Flyers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Lehigh Valley. The disbanding of NHL taxi squads has meant Philadelphia has needed to call Cates up to plug holes, then send him back down to remain within roster limits. Cates has persevered; during a January 22nd game against the Buffalo Sabres, he was within one second of matching his season-high for ice time, skating for 13:06. He has now played in 11 total games this winter with one goal to his credit.
Jack Drury – Carolina Hurricanes
(Waterloo: 2016/17 – 2017/18)
Drury played in two NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes during mid-December, scoring two goals with a +3 plus/minus differential. He has been with the Chicago Wolves – Carolina’s AHL affiliate – since that brief call-up.
Mark Friedman – Pittsburgh Penguins
(Waterloo: 2012/13 – 2013/14)
After seeing regular action with Pittsburgh during October and November, Friedman has been used sparingly since. In total, he has played in 12 Penguins games with four assists this winter.
Vinnie Hinostroza – Buffalo Sabres
(Waterloo: 2010/11 – 2012/13)
A steady first season with the Buffalo Sabres was derailed by a lower body injury. It has been one month since Hinostroza made his most recent appearance for Buffalo during a home overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings. If he is not available for tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators, it will be his 11th straight night out of the lineup. Prior to getting hurt, Hinostroza had eight goals and nine assists in 36 games.
Jacob MacDonald – Colorado Avalanche
(Waterloo: 2009/10 – 2010/11)
MacDonald has been off the ice since taking a hard hit on December 12th. Before that, he had played in seven games over two separate stints with the Avalanche this winter.
Brandon Montour – Florida Panthers
(Waterloo: 2013/14 – 2014/15)
With 47 games played, Montour is tied with Joe Pavelski for the most NHL appearances by a former Black Hawk so far in 2021/22. He has been scratched from the Eastern Conference-leading Panthers’ lineup just once so far this season. Montour has four goals and 15 assists. With one more point, this would become Montour’s third season with at least 20 points at the NHL level. His career best was 35 in 2018/19, when he split time between the Anaheim Ducks and Buffalo Sabres. Florida returned from a two-week layoff last night, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime.
Tom Novak – Nashville Predators
In October, Novak made his NHL debut and then proceeded to play in 27 games. He was assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals around Christmastime and has been in the AHL since then. At the NHL level, Novak produced one goal and six assists, with five of those points in power play situations.
Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars
(Waterloo: 2002/03 – 2003/04)
After nearly 16 seasons in the NHL, at this point it seems like Pavelski is never far from another milestone. He is currently just five points shy of 900 games in his NHL career, and he shows no signs of slowing down. In 47 appearances this winter, Pavelski has 21 goals and 31 assists. He produced two of each on Tuesday during the Dallas Stars’ most recent game, a 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche. It was his 12th multipoint game of the season. Among all players ever selected during the seventh round of the NHL Draft, only Doug Gilmour (1,414) and Henrik Zetterberg (960) have more points than Pavelski (895).
Cal Petersen – Los Angeles Kings
(Waterloo: 2011/12 – 2013/14)
The L.A. Kings have been enjoyed solid results with Petersen in net ever since the NHL’s holiday/COVID break in late December. The 27-year-old’s first appearance after the league’s hiatus was a 21-save shutout of the Detroit Red Wings on January 8th. Including that night, Petersen is 6-2-0 in his last eight appearances with a .910 save percentage and a 2.14 goals-against average. With more than two months left in the season, his 11 wins this year are the most in his NHL career. Petersen also has the league’s highest 2021/22 win total among goalies who catch with their right hand.
Rem Pitlick – Montreal Canadiens
Before being waived by the Minnesota Wild and claimed by Montreal in early January, Pitlick had six goals and five assists in 20 games. He is almost on pace to match those numbers with his new club. Pitlick has three goals and four assists in a dozen contests for the Canadiens. That includes scoring a goal against Minnesota when Montreal visited the Wild on January 24th in a game the Canadiens ultimately lost 8-2. Pitlick may find a kindred spirit in new Montreal coach Martin St. Louis who skated at the NHL level with similar size to the 5-11, 196-pound Pitlick.
Dylan Samberg – Winnipeg Jets
Due to an upper body injury, Samberg has not played since January 25th. Making his NHL debut earlier that month, the big defenseman has two assists in six appearances. His return from this latest injury is expected before the end of this month. Samburg was also hurt near the start of this season and did not play in his first AHL game of 2021/22 until mid-November.
Zach Sanford – Ottawa Senators
Spending his first year with Ottawa, Sanford is currently tied for tenth in team scoring with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists). By adding two more points, he will match his total from 52 games last year as a member of the St. Louis Blues. Since making his NHL debut in 2016, Sanford has never dressed for more than 60 games in one season. He could easily surpass that this year; the 27-year-old is one of just three Senators to have played in all 46 Ottawa games. He is also just three goals away from reaching a double-digit total for the third time in his career.
Craig Smith – Boston Bruins
(Waterloo: 2006/07 – 2008/09)
Smith is approaching some round numbers in key statistical categories as he marches through his 11th NHL season. The second-year Boston Bruin is four assists from 200, 19 goals from 200, and as a result, 23 total points from 400. A big final two-and-a-half months might propel him past or near all of those figures. Smith has produced at least 30 points in seven of the last eight years. Boston is currently in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack with a 27-16-4 record; the Bruins would claim a wild card spot of the playoffs were to begin today.
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