Because of Kris Russell’s lingering lower-body injury, tonight was our second chance to see Jakub Nakladal suit up for the Calgary Flames. And let’s face it, he played two shifts against Toronto and then sat for two and a half periods and watched that game, so fundamentally-speaking this was his first “real” National Hockey League game.
How did he do? We dug into his numbers a bit.
Nakladal played 14 shifts for 12:28 (10:32 even-strength and 1:56 power-play), had a minor penalty, two shots on goal, one missed shot and one shot that he blocked. He played 4:16 (four shifts) in the first, 3:36 (four shifts) in the second and 4:46 (six shifts) in the third. He had 40% offensive zone starts, which made him less sheltered than everybody but T.J. Brodie and Ladislav Smid (both of whom played more than he did).
Now, I find his usage pretty interesting. He played a mixture with every other defender, as you can see above, but I’m most curious about his three minutes with T.J. Brodie. Presuming that Kris Russell eventually leaves the team – or even presuming that he misses a game or two dealing with his injury – and that the Dennis Wideman saga drags on forever, the Flames are left with three left-shooting blueliners (Giordano, Brodie and Smid) and three right-shooting blueliners (Hamilton, Nakladal and Engelland). The trial of Nakladal with Brodie suggests that perhaps they’re exploring three balanced pairings at some point in the future, and Nakladal with Brodie does sound pretty darn tempting. (And for what it’s worth, Giordano and Hamilton have played together a lot this season, especially recently on the power play.)
Overall, Nakladal looked pretty strong when he got on the ice, and I’d imagine we’ll get to see more of him in the near-future.
HARTLEY (ON NAKLADAL)
Flames head coach Bob Hartley commented on Nakladal’s first real NHL game in his post-game press conference:
I liked his game. I thought that, great puck moving defenseman…you can tell how he can snap that puck, how he can shoot that puck also, good passer and everything, I thought he handled himself very well.
NAKLADAL (ON NAKLADAL)
His overall impressions of the game:
I didn’t know it for a 100% if I was going to play before game, but yesterday coach told me that I have to be ready because we didn’t know what’s gonna happen with Russ, so all day today I tried to prepare like normally if I would play. I felt pretty good in the game and I’m pretty happy. i played a lot of ice-time and PP I played some. It was great for me. But of course I’m mad because we lost. In this situation we need every point.
How his prior game (and his time in the press box) prepared him for the game:
The first game against Toronto, I played two shifts. [Chuckles] But today, like I said, I had more ice time, so much more than against Toronto. This is great opportunity for me to show to everybody that I can play in this organization and, like i said, I’m pretty happy for this opportunity.