It seems that whenever the Calgary Flames call up a player from the American Hockey League, that player either gets parked in the press box for a while or gets to dress but barely plays in the actual game.
So it may be tremendously surprising for you to learn that Tyler Wotherspoon, in his first call-up to the NHL of this season, played a regular shift with another recent call-up on Calgary’s third pairing. The Flames won 5-2 against the Vancouver Canucks.
How did Wotherspoon do? In short? Pretty well given the circumstances.
Wotherspoon had 22 shifts for 15:52 overall, all at even-strength. He played 4:59 (6 shifts) in the first, 5:06 (6 shifts) in the second and 5:46 (10 shifts) in the third. As you’d expect, once the game was no longer in question – the middle of the second period, basically – Bob Hartley seemed completely content just to roll six defenders and keep everybody fresh. Wotherspoon played almost entirely with Jakub Nakladal, and was about middle-of-the-pack in terms of zone starts at 41.67% offensive starts.
Overall, Wotherspoon was pretty composed. Granted, like the rest of the team, he didn’t have the best first period. But once the team got going, Wotherspoon did a good job clearing the zone effectively and even jumped into the rush a few times. Not bad for a guy that was minus-3 in a 6-1 loss in the AHL in the game before he got called up to the big league. (Granted, it was against Vancouver, one of the league’s least consistent teams.)
Hopefully he’s got some confidence after the Vancouver game, because he’ll need it against Anaheim – it’ll be a lot tougher to shelter Nakladal and Wotherspoon against the Ducks.
HARTLEY (ON WOTHERSPOON)
On the play of his third pairing (in the context of the whole team’s play):
Spooner and Nakky on the blueline, they were very solid also. They contributed offensively. Defensively they were sharp. They were moving puck well. They had good decision without the puck.
WOTHERSPOON (ON WOTHERSPOON)
On his improved recent play in Stockton that contributed to his recall:
I just feel like [there’s] more jump to my game lately. Being more aggressive and more assertive out there. If you can do those things, good things are going to happen.
On jumping back into the NHL alongside AHL defensive partner Jakub Nakladal:
Anytime you have chemistry with a guy, it makes it easier to go out there. You know a little bit of their tendencies and I think we did a good job tonight.