In a league that’s only getting bigger, 5-foot-9 forward Johnny Gaudreau is hoping to be an exception. He slipped to the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but his days of being overlooked are long behind him.
Gaudreau made a name for himself at Boston College and wrapped up his NCAA career by claiming the Hobey Baker Award. He also made his NHL debut on April 13 and chipped in a goal.
His biggest challenge is still ahead of him though as he needs to prove that he can make it at the NHL level. To help him with that, he’s reached out to other undersized forwards, including Martin St. Louis.
“I’ve just got to make sure I follow in their footsteps and do what they’ve been doing,” Gaudreau told NHL.com.
“They said you need to be strong in your legs, definitely work out your legs. And you don’t need to be too big in your upper body because you won’t be able to stickhandle that well. Just a lot of great pointers from a lot of great guys and I really appreciate it.
“It’s just doing the little things right, keep working out, making sure I’m skating and getting stronger. Obviously I’m going to get stronger. I have to make sure I keep working out and working hard.”
Like Gaudreau, St. Louis was initially dismissed by NHL teams, but he eventually found his footing and became one of the best players of his generation. Gaudreau was five when St. Louis made his NHL debut, so for most of Gaudreau’s life, he’s stood as an example of what small forwards can accomplish.
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)