Fixing The PK: Nick Spaling's Return To The Big Club

By Amanda DiPaolo

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 21: Nick Spaling #13 of the Nashville Predators prepares to face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena on January 21, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Nick Spaling was recalled from Milwaukee and joined the Predators on Monday of this week (Photo:

Before Tuesday’s game against the Calgary Flames, Nashville boasted a league worst penalty kill-off rate at a little over 64%. After Marcel Goc suffered a separated shoulder, the Predators recalled Nick Spaling from Milwaukee to replace the German Olympian.

Spaling is considered to be a specialist on killing penalties. Despite the classification, Spaling does not feel any added pressure now that he has been recalled. “Not really, I don’t think so. They have the guys here that are really good at penalty killing. Sometimes it’s the way it goes. It’s only 4 or 5 games into the season. Sometimes the other teams get the bounces on their power play.”

The 22 year old impressed the coaching staff during training camp but couldn’t crack the roster and got sent to Milwaukee. Spaling did not have to go through waivers to be sent to the American Hockey League. His waiver wire ineligibility may have played a role in the decision to send Spaling to the Admirals, but Spaling isn’t going to spend any time worrying about it.

“I’m not sure. I don’t really look too much into that,” he said, when asked about training camp, adding “When I went down, I tried to play good down there and make my way back up. Now that I’m here I want to obviously stay here and see what happens.”

Tuesday night was Spaling’s first game this season for the Predators. Spaling played on the fourth line with Sergei Kostitsyn and Jerred Smithson. In 10:49 of ice time, Spaling had 1 shot on goal and 2 hits. More importantly, Spaling logged 1:44 of shorthanded ice time to lead all forwards, nearly half the time Nashville was shorthanded. The Predators were called for two minor penalties and were able to kill them both off.

On Wednesday, Nashville signed former Boston Bruin and Montreal Canadiens forward Steve Begin. Begin was placed on waivers once signed and if clears will be sent to Milwaukee for conditioning. When Begin is in game shape, where does he fit into Nashville’s roster? And will Begin’s role with the Predators have any significant impact on Spaling?

It is unclear whether Spaling will be able to stick in Nashville or not, but one this is for certain. With Spaling in the lineup, the penalty kill just got better.

Spaling will be in action again tonight when Nashville hosts the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game time is 7 p.m. CT. Some tickets are still available.


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