Spaling: 'It's been a crazy year' - 05-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist goes way back with center Nick Spaling. As prospects in the Predators' system, they were linemates with the Milwaukee Admirals as far back as 2008-09.

They've been friends for nearly a decade.

The only problem is they're no longer teammates.

The Penguins dealt Spaling to the Maple Leafs last offseason as part of the trade which brought right winger Phil Kessel to the Penguins. in the midst of yet another re-building project, the Maple Leafs dealt Spaling to the Sharks prior to this season's trade deadline. Starting tomorrow, they'll be competing against one another in the Stanley Cup Final.

"Obviously you're always happy for your friends to be successful," said Hornqvist. "But when you play against him, he's not your friend anymore.”

Spaling has found a role on the Sharks' fourth line and has been one of the team's top penalty killers.

“He's just a smart hard-working player," said Hornqvist. "He always showed up. He's never going to have a bad game because he works so hard. You know what you'll get from him every single night. He's a good role player and he's been really good for them.”

Roughly 11 months after being dealt from an underachieving Penguins team which lasted only five games in the postseason to a re-building Maple Leafs team with no hopes of even reaching the postseason, Spaling is four wins away from the Stanley Cup.

Today, he talked about the past year.


What have the past 11 months been like?

"It's been a little bit of a crazy ride to get here I think. Obviously if you asked at the start of the year, where you thought you'd end up, this would have been beyond expectations for me. It's been a crazy year. I got traded in the offseason obviously from here to Toronto, close to home. That was exciting in its own way. Then to get traded again, you don't know where you're going to end up. And to join a team like this is great. And to end up in the [Stanley Cup] Finals is a dream come true."

What did you make of the one season you spent with the Penguins?

“It was a lot of fun. Obviously, it's a great team. It was a fun year. I think we didn't play as well as we could have when it mattered and that's what it comes down to.”

Did you anticipate being traded by the Penguins?

"I think any time you don't reach the expectations the team has set out, the team has got to make moves. I think this team has shook things up a lot. I got traded to Toronto which is mixed emotions obviously. I got to go close back to home which is new for me.”

The Maple Leafs clearly are in a rebuilding project. Was it difficult being on a team like that?

"I think we actually played better than a lot of people thought. It's a team that obviously they've got a plan and they're sticking to it. I think they're bringing in a lot of great pieces and they're building like they said they would. It was a lot of fun to play there. For me, being lucky, being close to home, it's the team that I grew up watching. I enjoyed my time.”

What was it like going from a rebuilding project to the Sharks, a team with legit Stanley Cup hopes?

"You never know. Obviously, being in the last year of a contract, we knew a trade was possible and to be able to join a team like this and end up here, it's what every player wants. I definitely got lucky and very fortunate to be here. … Obviously at the time of year and the position Toronto was in, it made sense to for them to start trading players and get draft picks and whatever they can in their situation. You end up on a team like this, really fortunate to be here and to end up in the [Stanley Cup] Finals, you can't ask for anything more than this."

What's your role with the Sharks?

"I want to create some energy. We want to play the puck. We want to play a heavy game and just do what we can to contribute offensive, defensively and help the team win."

(Photos: Harry How/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Automatic hatred - 05-29-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Lightning

-“Probably when you see those guys in warm-ups." - Penguins right winger Patric Hornqvist (right) on when a "hatred" for the Sharks will develop.

-“It just brought a new energy and a new message, I guess. Kind of allowed us to play to our strengths a little bit more. We played a lot faster and along with that we brought in a few new guys to help with that. It’s been quite a turnaround.” - Center Matt Cullen on the team's improvement under head coach Mike Sullivan.

-Defenseman Trevor Daley's absence has led to more ice time for other Penguins defensemen in some areas

-"His philosophy on how to play the game suited these players. It was just a matter of time when you put that group together with that coach they come closer and closer and closer together." - General manager Jim Rutherford on Sullivan.

-A look at how the Penguins and Sharks did in head-to-head games this season.

-"He's been huge. He's doing all the little things. You guys look at goal scoring and the points, but for us he does all those little things -- blocks shots, helps out, wins battles." - Sharks left winger Patrick Marleau on captain/center Joe Pavelski.

-"All four of their lines are good, but the top three are really dangerous. We have no preference. We take a lot of pride in playing against the other team's good lines -- you take your play up a notch against elite lines." - Sharks third-line center Chris Tierney on his line - along with left winger Joel Ward and center Melker Karlsson -  matching up against the Penguins.

-After missing the playoffs in 2014-15, the Sharks underwent quite a few changes last offseason.

Kelly Cup

-Goaltender Brian Foster made 27 saves for the Wheeling Nailers in a 5-3 loss to the Allen Americans in Game 1 of the Kelly Cup final.

Non-Playoff Stuff
Central Division

-Blues forward Scottie Upshall revealed he played the last two rounds of the playoffs with a broken and dislocated thumb.

(Photo: Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

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Wait Times

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald compared the trauma vets have faced at the hands of the VA with lines at Disney World. Real funny, Bob! People aren't dying in line for Space Mountain. 

20160529 Wait Times

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Penguins - Sharks: Head to head - 05-28-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


The Penguins and Sharks will open the Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center Monday.

The franchises have never met in the postseason. The Sharks lead the all-time series against the Penguins with an 18-12-3-2 record.

This past regular season, the Penguins and Sharks met twice and split the two meetings. The Sharks won in Pittsburgh, 3-1, Nov. 21 while the Penguins won in San Jose, 5-1, Dec. 1.

Here is a look at the active players on each roster and how they fared this season in games against one another:



Player, position Games
Shots Penalty
Phil Kessel, RW 3 3-0-3 10 0
Evgeni Malkin, C 2 1-2-3 4 2
Chris Kunitz, LW 2 0-2-2 4 2
Matt Cullen, C 2 1-0-1 2 0
Beau Bennett, RW 2 0-1-1 5 2
Ian Cole, D 2 0-1-1 3 2
Sidney Crosby, C 2 0-1-1 2 2
Brian Dumoulin, D 2 0-1-1 5 2
Eric Fehr, C 2 0-1-1 3 0
Patric Hornqvist, RW 2 0-1-1 7 2
Justin Schultz, D 2 0-1-1 2 0
Trevor Daley, D 1 0-0-0 0 0
Nick Bonino, C 2 0-0-0 1 0
Pascal Dupuis, RW 2 0-0-0 5 0
Kris Letang, D 2 0-0-0 8 0
Ben Lovejoy, D 2 0-0-0 8 2
Carl Hagelin, LW 3 0-0-0 4 0
Josh Archibald, RW - - - -
Jean-Sebastien Dea, C - - - -
Tim Erixon, D - - - -
Tom Kuhnhackl, RW - - - -
Olli Maatta, D - - - -
Kael Mouillierat, LW - - - -
Steve Oleksy, D - - - -
Kevin Porter, C - - - -
Derrick Pouliot, D - - - -
Bryan Rust, RW - - - -
Conor Sheary, LW - - - -
Dominik Simon, C - - - -
Daniel Sprong, RW - - - -
Oskar Sundqvist, C - - - -
Scott Wilson, LW - - - -


Player Games
Record GAA Save
Marc-Andre Fleury 2 1-1-0 2.05 .937 0
Tristan Jarry - - - - -
Matt Murray - - - - -
Jeff Zatkoff - - - - -
Player, position Games
Shots Penalty
Patrick Marleau, C 2 1-2-3 8 0
Brent Burns, D 2 2-0-2 13 2
Paul Martin, D 2 1-1-2 1 2
Joel Ward, RW 2 0-2-2 3 0
Joonas Donskoi, RW 2 0-1-1 3 0
Joe Pavelski, C 2 0-1-1 6 0
Nikolay Goldobin, LW 1 0-0-0 0 0
Mirco Mueller, D 1 0-0-0 0 0
Nick Spaling, C 1 0-0-0 0 0
Matt Tennyson, D 1 0-0-0 2 0
Dainius Zubrus, C 1 0-0-0 0 0
Justin Braun, D 2 0-0-0 3 0
Brenden Dillon, D 2 0-0-0 1 2
Tomas Hertl, C 2 0-0-0 6 0
Melker Karlsson, C 2 0-0-0 7 2
Matt Nieto, LW 2 0-0-0 2 0
Joe Thornton, C 2 0-0-0 0 0
Chris Tierney, C 2 0-0-0 1 0
Tommy Wingels, C 2 0-0-0 2 0
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D 2 0-0-0 1 0
Roman Polak, D 3 0-0-0 1 4
Ryan Carpenter, C - - - -
Logan Couture, C - - - -
Dylan DeMelo, D - - - -
Barclay Goodrow, RW - - - -
Micheal Haley, C - - - -


Player Games
Record GAA Save
Martin Jones 2 1-1-0 2.51 .925 0
Aaron Dell - - - - -
James Reimer - - - - -

(Photo: Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)

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Empty Netter Assists - Penguins and Sharks similar - 05-28-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Playoff Stuff
Penguins - Sharks

-“It’s a team that’s very well-balanced, similar to us. And I think it’s a team that’s very dangerous. Similar to us.” - Defenseman Ian Cole on the Sharks.

-“I’m so thrilled. I, I, I don’t even know what to say. This is a huge moment in my career." - Right winger Phil Kessel on reaching a Stanley Cup Final for the first time.

-"He's big. He's really composed. He plays positionally really well but he can also go outside the box and be athletic. It's going to be a tough test." - Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff on Sharks goaltender Martin Jones, his former teammates with the AHL's Manchester Monarchs. 

-"Once [the Penguins] finished the season the way that they did and got into the playoffs, and the way that we were playing, in the back of your head you know it’s a possibility. Each round that goes by you know that it’s obviously even more likely going to happen. I think I was kind of expecting it, for the most part.” - Sharks defenseman Paul Martin (right) on facing his former team, the Penguins, in the Stanley Cup Final. 

-"Paul's a pain in the [butt] to play against. I've played against him in the past; as soon as you turn around, he's right there in front of your face. A very smart hockey player. Another guy I find that's undervalued. To have him on our side is very huge, as opposed to having him on Pittsburgh, just definitely thankful. He's annoying to play against." - Sharks right winger Joel Ward on Martin.

-The Sharks have come a long way since bumbling through their inaugural season of 1991-92.

-"I think my brother sent me the picture of me and Patty together in Pittsburgh. I've known Patty a long, long time. It started, it was the old building at the time, the Igloo. Not as much history as the new building but it'll be fun to go into Pittsburgh." - Sharks center Joe Thornton on himself and center Patrick Marleau (right) being the No. 1 and 2 overall picks in the 1997 draft held at the Civic Arena. 

-"He was actually a really, really good teammate. I remember when I was 18, 19 years old, just a tremendous teammates and yeah, he's got the boys working over there." - Thornton on Penguins coach Mike Sullivan. The two were teammates in Boston.

-Sidelined since May 9, Sharks forward Matt Nieto expects to be recovered from an undisclosed injury to play in the Stanley Cup Final

-The Penguins' trip to the Stanley Cup Final is a big boost for local merchandise vendors

Non-Playoff Stuff

-Happy 66th birthday to former Penguins goaltender Gary Inness (right). A free agent signing in the 1973 offseason, Inness spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. In 1973-74, Inness appeared in 20 games and had a record of 7-10-1 with a 3.26 goals against average. During 1974-75, Inness took over as the team's top goaltender and responded by appearing in 57 games with a 24-18-10 record, a 3.09 goals against average and two shutouts. In nine postseason games that spring, Inness was 5-4 with a 2.67 goals against average. After appearing in 23 games and going 8-9-2 with a 4.06 goals against average in 1975-76, Inness was dealt to the Flyers in exchange for goaltender Bobby Taylor and defenseman Ed Van Impe. In 100 regular season games with the Penguins, Inness had a record of 39-37-13 with a 3.37 goals against average.

-Happy 66th birthday to former Penguins left winger Errol Thompson. Acquired midway through the 1980-81 season in a deal which sent left winger Gary McAdam to the Red Wings, Thompson finished his 10-year NHL career by appearing in 34 games and recording 14 points for the Penguins. He was released during the 1982 offseason. Thompson is one of three former Penguins (center John Chabot and defenseman Bob Stewart are the others) from Prince Edward Island.

-Happy 64th birthday to former Penguins defenseman Jack Lynch (right). A second-round pick of the club in 1972, Lynch spent parts of two seasons in Pittsburgh. In 1972-73, he appeared in 47 games and recorded 19 points as a rookie. During 1973-74, he played in 17 games and recorded seven points for the Penguins before being dealt to the Red Wings along with Jim Rutherford in exchange for defenseman Ron Stackhouse. In 64 regular season games with the Penguins, Lynch scored 26 points.

-Happy 68th birthday to former Penguins right winger Ted Snell. A free agent in October of 1973, Snell spent one season in Pittsburgh. In 1973-74, Snell appeared in 55 games and recorded 16 points. In the 1974 offseason, he was claimed by the Kansas City Scouts in the expansion draft.

-Happy 367th birthday to former Penguins center Matt Hussey. A ninth-round pick in 1998, Hussey spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. In 2003-04, Hussey appeared in three games and recorded three points. Following the 2004-05 lockout, Hussey saw action in 13 games in 2005-06 and recorded one assist. In the 2006 offseason, he signed with the Red Wings.

-Happy 27th birthday to former Penguins left winger David Perron. Acquired in a trade which sent left winger Rob Klinkhammer and a draft pick to the Oilers midway through last season, Perron spent parts of two seasons with the Penguins. He finished 2014-15 by appearing in 43 regular season games for the Penguins and scored 22 points. He played in five postseason games last spring and recorded one assist. This season, after 43 games and 16 points, he was traded to the Ducks in exchange for left winger Carl Hagelin.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-Devils defenseman Jon Merrill underwent right shoulder surgery. He is expected to be sidelined four months. 

-The Devils signed undrafted defenseman defenseman Yohann Auvitu, formerly of HIFK Helsinki in Finland's Liiga, to a one-year entry-level contract.

Atlantic Division

-"I hope to be back. We have some unfinished business. This group has been unbelievable, this city has been unbelievable to me. I can't believe it's been eight years already, time flies. The last couple years, you can finally see that light, you still haven't got to it, but it's there, it's dangling right in front of us. When you start something, you want to finish it, and i really hope that can be the case." - Lightning captain/forward Steven Stamkos (right) on his future with the team. Stamkos is a pending unrestricted free agent this offseason.

-"I definitely want to be here. I love the way this ended, I guess, with this different and weird year. … It's definitely somewhere I want to play." - Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on his future with the team. Earlier this season, Drouin requested a trade.

-"The next two summers will kind of define our team the next seven or eight years. I have an idea of what we want to do. And we're doing our best to get everyone to buy in to what we're trying to do and keep it together." - Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman on his future.

-The Red Wings signed forward Tomas Nosek to a two-year contract extension to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.225 million. The first year of the deal is two-way.

World Cup of Hockey

-The rosters for the World Cup of Hockey tournament were finalized

(Photos: Rob Carr/Getty Images, Christian Petersen/Getty Images, Associated Press and Penguins Hockey Cards)

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