Mike Halford

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Wait, is there another goalie controversy in Anaheim?

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When the Ducks traded Frederik Andersen to the Leafs, it was widely assumed the “Who’s No. 1?” debate was over.

John Gibson was Anaheim’s guy, after splitting time with Andersen in each of the last two seasons. The Ducks had finally decided to embrace a definitive starter and opt out of the platoon goalie system, after dealing with it for years.

Before Anderson and Gibson, it was Andersen and Jonas Hiller. Before Anderson and Hiller, it was Hiller and Viktor Fasth. In fact, you have to go all the way back to ’11-12 for the last time Anaheim had a clear-cut starter.

That was supposed to change this year.

Until it didn’t.

Gibson was the No. 1 for the majority of the season. But then he suffered a prolonged lower-body injury, and has played exactly once in the last 39 days — a 4-3 loss to St. Louis on Mar. 10.

Jonathan Bernier, meanwhile, has been the goalie of record in 16 of the last 17 games. He’s also been as good as Gibson, if not better, since taking the starting gig. In the month of March alone, Bernier went 10-1-2 with a .941 save percentage.

So you know what that means. With just five games left in the regular season, it’s time for Anaheim’s annual rite of passage: Asking who starts in the playoffs!

From the O.C. Register:

Bernier continues to keep the net as Gibson has become available, watching on for the second straight game after recovering from a lower-body injury. Bernier’s lights-out play for more than a month is a key reason why the Ducks are in position to win a fifth straight Pacific Division title.

Asked whether he felt it was important to keep Bernier in rhythm, Carlyle has gone with his tried-and-true response that “we know that we’re going to need both goaltenders.”

“We’ve stated that right from the opening of training camp that we felt we had a 1A and 1B tandem,” Carlyle added. “Obviously, Gibby was our guy and we went with him but he got hurt. He’s been out for more than a month and Bernie come in and gave us the same level of goaltending.

“It’s a unique situation to be in, but it’s one that I think any coach would take at this juncture, especially this time of the season.”

Bernier added to the intrigue with his remarks.

“There’s five games left in the season now,” he said. “I want to really make sure that I’m fresh and, at the same time, mentally ready to go for Game 1.”

The x-factor in all this, of course, is Carlyle.

Anaheim’s history of flip-flopping in goal fell at the feet of Bruce Boudreau (his handling of goalies was largely believed to be part of the reason for his dismissal). Boudreau started Gibson in last year’s opening-round playoff loss to the Preds, only to switch to Andersen midway through. And then there was the infamous ’14 playoffs, in which Boudreau started three different goalies — Andersen, Gibson and Hiller — over a 13-game span.

The Ducks are back in action on Saturday, when they take on the Oilers in Edmonton. Given both are gunning for top spot in the Pacific Division, the game has plenty of meaning — so Carlyle’s starting goalie choice could be pretty telling.

Sens held team meeting after ugly defeat in Minnesota

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Ottawa played last night down the services of Erik Karlsson, Alex Burrows and Zack Smith, who exited in the first period with an upper-body injury.

Those built-in excuses could’ve whisked away any bad feelings from what ended up a 5-1 loss to the Wild in Minnesota. But the Sens weren’t having any of that — per the Citizen, they held a team meeting following the defeat, which dropped them to 2-4-3 in their last nine and suddely into a bit of danger with regards to their playoff spot.

“It’s a difficult loss that they really took it to us,” Dion Phaneuf said, also per the Citizen. “The score reflects the whole game. If you look at how we got beat, they had more than us.

“They did the little things right and we’ve got to regroup quick because we’ve got a big one Saturday.”

Saturday’s game, in Winnipeg, is undoubtedly crucial. The Sens were comfortably in a playoff position on Mar. 11, sitting six points up on Boston and eight on Toronto.

But after last night? Just three up on the Bruins. And just two up on the Leafs.

There are reasons for this latest slump. Health, as mentioned above, has become a factor. And even prior to sitting out, Burrows — who was on fire upon being acquired from Vancouver at the deadline — went cold, and failed to register a point in his last five games.

Craig Anderson has been shaky in net over the last two outings, which included a horrific gaffe against Philly on Tuesday night.

The offense has sputtered, with just 14 goals over the last nine games.

The Sens will need to turn this around, and quickly. They’re in serious danger of going from getting home ice advantage in the opening playoff round, to potentially falling into a wild card spot.

Goalie nods: Andersen back for Leafs

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Curtis McElhinney held up his end of the bargain.

Now, it’s back to Frederik Andersen.

After missing the last game (well, one-and-a-half games) to an upper-body injury, Andersen will resume his regular No. 1 duties when the Leafs take on the Preds in Nashville this evening.

Andersen was initially hurt Saturday in Buffalo, then sat out Tuesday’s big win over Florida — one that McElhinney called the biggest start of his career, and responded to by stopping 25 of 27 shots.

It’ll be interesting to see how Andersen fares in his first game back, and if he continue his strong month of March (6-1-2 in his last 10 games, with a .936 save percentage). The Preds have played well of late, winning seven of their last nine, and haven’t lost at Bridgestone since Mar. 4.

For the Preds, Pekka Rinne starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Thomas Greiss, who’s lost his last two starts, gets another shot as the desperate Isles take on the Flyers. Philly will counter with Steve Mason, who’s riding a personal three-game winning streak.

Eddie Lack remains out with a neck injury, so Cam Ward starts when the ‘Canes host the Jackets. No word yet on a Columbus starter, but Sergei Bobrovsky has played three straight, including Tuesday’s win over Buffalo.

— The B’s are desperate for wins, so no surprise they’re riding Tuukka Rask into tonight’s tilt against Dallas. The visiting Stars have yet to name a starter, but Antti Niemi is likely.

James Reimer and Roberto Luongo are both out injured, so Reto Berra starts for the Panthers while newly recalled Adam Wilcox backs up. For the host Habs, it’ll be Carey Price.

— Another team desperate for points? The Bolts, who will go with Andrei Vasilevskiy after he was hooked from — then returned to — Monday’s wild comeback victory against Chicago. Petr Mrazek goes for the visiting Red Wings.

Alex Stalock, recalled yesterday, will bump Darcy Kuemper from the No. 2 gig in Minnesota, and make his regular season debut. He’ll be up against Craig Anderson in the Ottawa goal.

— The Ducks just keep winning with Jonathan Bernier in goal, so why rush back John Gibson? That will continue to be the plan tonight, as Anaheim visits Winnipeg. Michael Hutchinson starts for the Jets.

— It’s Martin Jones versus Cam Talbot when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

Jets’ Enstrom undergoes second knee surgery in 12 months

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There’s not much left for Winnipeg to play for — just five regular-season games left, and no playoffs on the horizon — so today’s news that Tobias Enstrom has undergone season-ending knee surgery isn’t a crippling development.

Can’t be good, though.

Enstrom’s had a difficult year health-wise and, at the time of surgery, was dealing with a concussion suffered on a Tom Sestito hit back in early March. Prior to that, he missed time while attending to a family matter in his native Sweden and, prior to that, was shut down late last season to undergo knee surgery.

It’s unclear if today’s procedure was related to the one Enstrom had last March.

It is worth noting that, at the time of last year’s surgery, head coach Paul Maurice noted the 32-year-old had been dealing with the injury for months.

“He’s been able to get through it because of blocks of days off. If he can get a two day block, he’d get a little better and it’s just getting worse,” Maurice said, per Global News. “It got to the point that he’s not recovering and he hasn’t been. He hasn’t been for almost a month now. He’s not recovering enough on his days off for the pain ever to subside.”

All told, Enstrom appeared in 60 games this year, scoring 14 points while averaging just under 22 minutes per night. Next season will be the last of a five-year, $28.75 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

Reinhart suggests benching was a stretch

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Two days after Sam Reinhart was bolted to the pine for the entirety of Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus — his punishment for showing up late to a team stretch — Reinhart discussed the incident, and didn’t sound overly thrilled about how it played out.

“It’s a coach’s decision. It’s a management decision,” Reinhart said, per the Buffalo News. “From my perspective, I would have rather battled it out with my teammates.

“I don’t think five minutes in the morning is going to influence my preparation for a game, but it was a team stretch and I should have been there on time.”

Reinhart also had this to say:

Discipline of this nature is pretty common, though the way Reinhart’s played out was a bit more dramatic. Rather than park him in the press box as a healthy scratch, the Sabres — who didn’t have an extra forward, as Kyle Okposo was out sick — dressed the 21-year-old, then sat him for the entire 60 minutes.

The Buffalo News said the move “would seem to send a deeper message than merely being scratch,” adding that “there has been friction between players and [Sabres head coach Dan] Bylsma throughout the season.”

In the club’s defense, Reinhart is hardly the first young player to be punished for lateness. Nikita Zadorov had repeated issues with punctuality and, after being suspended, was eventually traded to Colorado. Evander Kane was parked for a game last season after sleeping in and missing a practice.

Of course, each situation is unique and some will argue showing up five minutes late for a stretch isn’t on par with what Zadorov and Kane did. Which is fair. That could be why Bylsma said the club might consider a policy change.

And that could by why Reinhart’s teammate, Jack Eichel, tried to put things in perspective.

“We’re obviously not going to hold it over his head here,” Eichel said, per the News. “He didn’t really do too much wrong.”