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NHL

NHL Players of Note For January 20

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

 

Though the second day of the NHL season was much quieter than the first, there were still six games and still six notable players. Here’s a quick look at guys who did big things on the ice on Jan. 20:

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek (Buffalo)

During the lockout, Vanek played for a team in his native Austria, experience that seems to have served him well. In the Sabres’ home opener and first game, he exploded for five points in the 5-2 win–two goals, three assists, nine shots taken, +1 rating, almost 20 minutes spent on the ice. Yes, he had a hand in all of Buffalo’s goals.

San Jose Sharks vs. Calgary Flames: Antti Niemi (San Jose)

Patrick Marleau had two goals, but Niemi was besieged by 32 shots from the Flames, including 16 in the first period alone, and stopped all but one of them to help with a 4-1 win. In total, he racked up a .969 save percentage and showed that he wasn’t rusty at all. (He did play a stint in his native Finland during the lockout, though.)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers: Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh)

Malkin provided three separate assists as the Penguins spoiled the second half of the Rangers’ opening back-to-back weekend with a 6-3 win that actually chased Henrik Lundqvist from the net after the fourth Pittsburgh goal of the evening. Like Vanek and Niemi, Malkin also had experience playing during the lockout, also in his native country.

Minnesota Wild vs. Dallas Stars: Josh Harding (Minnesota)

At the end of November, Harding announced that he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Many people wondered how this would affect his future, but he said he would continue to do his best work between the pipes when called upon to do so. In his first game post-diagnosis, he did very well indeed, pitching a 1-0 shutout against a team that was hot last night.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Vancouver Canucks: Ales Hemsky (Edmonton)

Hemsky put away a power play goal early in the third period to tie the game for the Oilers, but his truly game-changing move came in the tie-breaking shootout, which was forced by that Hemsky goal in the first place. After Devan Dubnyk stopped Alex Edler and Alexandre Burrows, but Roberto Luongo was beaten by Sam Gagner, Hemsky basically had the game on his stick–and he scored.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes: Dave Bolland (Chicago)

Marian Hossa quite nearly won out for his two-goal showing against the team Raffi Torres plays for–or would play for if he weren’t still suspended for concussing Hossa–but Bolland scored Chicago’s first and last goals of a 6-4 victory, plus he added an assist. Besides, Hossa was a notable player yesterday!

 

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