NHL Playoffs Begin: Native Players to Watch
Finally, the NHL's second season begins tonight--it's the most exciting time of the year. A good number of the 16 teams in this year's playoffs have Native players on their rosters. Here we take a quick look at some of them to get you ready for the start of action tonight. (Three games face off tonight, including Wild at Blackhawks at 8:00 p.m./ET, airing on NBC Sports Network; Kings at Blues at 8:00 p.m./ET, airing on CNBC; and finally, Wings at Ducks at 10:30 p.m./ET on NBC Sports Network. Check your local listings to confirm coverage).
Jordin Tootoo, Inuit, Detroit Red Wings, Right Wing
Tootoo added grit to a Wings roster that really needed it. He came up with some big goals too, including the game-winner in a pivotal game versus the LA Kings on April 24.
Wade Redden, Métis, Boston Bruins, Defenseman
Just before this year's trade deadline in early April, the Bruins picked up the veteran defenseman from the Blues. Redden, a former All-Star and member of the Canadian national team, had a frustrating few years after being put on waivers by the New York Rangers in 2010. He played in the American Hockey League until the Blues signed him at the start of this shortened season, in January. He could contribute solid minutes on Boston's blueline.
Arron Asham, Métis, New York Rangers, Right Wing
The tough guy from Portage La Prairie, Manitoba, didn't see a lot of ice time during the regular season, and he probably won't get many minutes in the playoffs. When the fiesty winger's on the ice, though, the other team will definitely know it.
T.J. Oshie, Ojibwe, St. Louis Blues, Right Wing
Limited to 30 games this season, Oshie had surgery April 16 to repair an ankle injury. He's listed as week to week. The Blues hope those are short weeks and he's able to compete at wing this postseason.
Rene Bourque, Métis/Cree, Montreal Canadiens, Right Wing
The bulky winger had 13 points in 27 games for the Habs, who finished a surprising second overall in the Eastern Conference this season. They'll take on fellow Canadian club Ottawa Senators in the first round, beginning Thursday night.
Carey Price, Ulkatcho First Nation, Montreal Canadiens, Goalie
The British Columbia backstop had a terrific season, going 21-13-4 with a .905 save percentage. He'll have to be outstanding in the playoffs for the storied Habs to win their first Cup since 1993. We know the province of Quebec would like that, just a little.
Sheldon Souray, Métis, Anaheim Ducks, Defenseman
Souray, who has one of the hardest slap shots in the game, had a tremendous season, with 17 points scored and finishing a plus 19. Factor in his 52 penalty minutes and the Detroit Red Wings, who the Ducks meet in Game One of their first round seires tonight, will have their hands full.
Dwight King, Métis, Los Angeles Kings, Left Wing
As a rookie call-up late last season, the aptly named King, along with fellow Native skater Jordan Nolan, led LA to their first Stanley Cup championship. They were also the first eighth seed to win Lord Stanley's tropy. You know King and Nolan want a repeat this year, though they start as the fifth seed, taking on the St. Loius Blues.
Jordan Nolan, Ojibwe, Los Angeles Kings, Center
Nolan and his teammate Dwight King can make life miserable for opponents. They're big, strong and they can also score. Nolan hopes to contribute like he did last year, beginning with the Blues.