Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
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Datsyuk to take KHL break, attend All-Star weekend

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Dan Milstein, the agent representing former Red Wings great Pavel Datsyuk, has confirmed a Sportsnet report that Datsyuk will be attending the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

Datsyuk, 38, is currently plying his trade with KHL powerhouse SKA Saint Petersburg, where he has 24 points through 33 games. This marks his first season back in his native Russia following a banner 15-year career in Detroit, where he captured two Stanley Cups and three Selke trophies as the league’s top defensive forward.

Most have presumed Datsyuk’s presence at the ASG is in conjunction with yesterday’s announcement — the NHL will unveil its 100 Greatest Players over the weekend, with a primetime television special hosted by Emmy Award-winning actor Jon Hamm.

It’s safe to assume Datsyuk will be among the Top 100.

 

Streaking Silfverberg ‘on another level’ for Ducks

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Jakob Silfverberg isn’t terribly well-known outside Anaheim, where Ducks fans love his scintillating two-way game.

Silfverberg is playing far too well to stay a secret this year.

John Gibson made 34 saves in his third shutout of the season, and Silfverberg had a goal and an assist in the Ducks’ 2-0 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.

Silfverberg scored a power-play goal in the second period, and the surging Swedish forward set up Andrew Cogliano‘s top-shelf shot with 5:18 to play. Their line with center Ryan Kesler combined for 17 shots and largely dominated play for the Ducks, who wrapped up their five-game homestand with four wins.

“He’s on another level right now,” Cogliano said of Silfverberg. “I’ve always thought he was one of the most underrated in the league. When you play with him, you appreciate him more about what he does with his stick battles and how hard he is on pucks. When he’s playing well, he’s usually the best player on the ice.”

The Ducks stayed even with San Jose atop the Pacific Division with their fifth win in seven games overall.

Anaheim finally snapped its 0-for-16 drought on the power play when Silfverberg pounced on a fat rebound of Corey Perry‘s shot in the slot for his 12th goal.

Late in the third period, Silfverberg surged ahead on a rush and threaded a cross-ice pass for an exceptional top-shelf shot by Cogliano, who ended his eight-game goal drought.

“Our line has been doing pretty good as of lately,” Silfverberg said. “I’ve always said we do the job defensively, but we have the aspects to produce and help the team score goals. We’ve been getting bounces lately. We’re shooting pucks and going hard to the net. We’re getting rewarded for that.”

Both teams played without their injured captains. Dallas’ Jamie Benn missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury, and Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf also missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury.

Dallas also lost defenseman Jamie Oleksiak to an upper-body injury shortly before Patrick Eaves went to the dressing room with an undisclosed problem in the third period. Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Oleksiak could be out “for a little bit of time,” while Eaves’ injury doesn’t appear serious.

“We’ve been (dealing with injuries) all year, since the start of the year,” Ruff said. “I thought the guys worked hard. It’s a tough back-to-back. Last night was a tough game (in Los Angeles). I thought we were right there to at least tie the game.”

Antti Niemi stopped 36 shots for the Stars, who wrapped up their three-game road trip with their fourth loss in five games overall.

“They weren’t going to give us much off the rush,” Dallas’ Jason Spezza said. “To get that power play goal, it forced us to open the game up a little bit. I think that’s when they scored the last one.”

Gibson played in his ninth consecutive game for the Ducks and earned his ninth career shutout – his second in four starts. After sharing the Jennings Trophy with Frederik Andersen last year, Gibson has been increasingly solid following a slow start to his first season as Anaheim’s unquestioned No. 1 netminder.

NOTES: Perry’s goal drought reached 13 games since he last scored, Dec. 13 against the Stars. The 2011 NHL MVP has only seven goals in 43 games this season after scoring 110 goals in the previous three seasons. … Niemi had a solid start after mopping up for struggling Kari Lehtonen in the final minutes of Monday’s victory at Los Angeles. Lehtonen, who gave up four goals to the Kings, has yielded 11 goals on the last 68 shots he has faced. … After the game, Anaheim acquired goalie Jhonas Enroth from Toronto for a seventh-round pick in 2018. Enroth, the Kings’ backup goalie last season, will play for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego. … Cogliano led the Ducks with eight shots on goal.

UP NEXT

Stars: Host Detroit on Thursday night.

Ducks: At Colorado on Thursday night.

Ruff wants to see ‘another gear’ from Seguin

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On paper, Tyler Seguin‘s had a pretty successful start to the season. He leads the Stars and sits seventh in NHL scoring with 41 points and, today, was named to the NHL All-Star Game.

Yet to hear his head coach explain it, Seguin still has more to give.

“My conversation with him was: ‘Do you have another gear? I’ve seen you with another gear, and I want to see it,'” Lindy Ruff said, per the Dallas Morning-News. “There’s more there, I know there is. I get to watch games sometimes two or three times, and you see situations that turned to gold, and now they’re silver or bronze.

“I think he’s missing that little gear that I think he can find still.”

That Ruff is asking more of his star player shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

Dallas has disappointed to start the year — after finishing atop the Western Conference with 109 points last season, the Stars are now 17-16-8 and on pace for 84. They currently sit fifth in the Central Division and are two points back of Los Angeles for the final wild card spot.

At this stage of the game, Dallas’ big guns will need to carry the load. And with Jamie Benn sidelined to injury, the onus will fall on Seguin to provide leadership, scoring and game-breaking efforts — especially in the coming weeks.

Tonight, Dallas will wrap a three-game road swing with a date in Anaheim, then begin a stretch of home dates. The Stars will play eight of their next 11 at American Airlines, a place they’ve had success this season — the Stars are 11-6-4 at home this year, compared to just 6-10-4 on the road.

Goalie nods: Ward to make 17th straight start for ‘Canes

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The last time someone other than Cam Ward started for Carolina was on Dec. 3. Michael Leighton got the call that night, a 4-2 loss to the Rangers in New York.

Since then, Leighton’s played a grand total of 34 minutes.

Eddie Lack, Ward’s usual backup, hasn’t played at all as he’s currently sidelined with a concussion.

Jorge Alves, the club’s 37-year-old equipment manager and occasional practice goalie, received eight seconds of relief time in late December.

So yeah, Ward’s been a busy guy.

Fourth among all NHL netminders in games played and third in minutes, Ward will make his 17th consecutive start this evening when the ‘Canes host the Blue Jackets in Carolina.

It’s a heavy workload, no doubt, though ‘Canes head coach Bill Peters doesn’t seem too concerned about burning Ward out. At least not concerned outwardly.

“Our schedule has been fairly favorable,” Peters said prior to Sunday’s OT win over the Bruins, per Fox Sports. “There has been a couple of back-to-backs, but nothing ridiculous.”

Ward has been solid, if unspectacular, while carrying the load. He’s posted a 15-12-6 record with a .915 save percentage and 2.28 GAA, and is on pace for his most starts since getting 68 back in the ’11-12 campaign.

For the Blue Jackets, Anton Forsberg will get the start in his first game as the club’s new backup. Curtis McElhinney, the veteran who’s served as Sergei Bobrovsky‘s No. 2 for most of the year, was waived yesterday and claimed by Toronto today.

Elsewhere…

Steve Mason will look to snap a personal six-game losing streak as he gets the nod for Philly in Buffalo. The Sabres will counter with Anders Nilsson, who gets the start with Robin Lehner out with the flu.

Tuukka Rask will get a shot at following up Saturday’s shutout win over Florida, as the B’s head to St. Louis. The Blues are going with Jake Allen, who became a first-time father over the weekend.

Ryan Miller, coming off a 44-save win over Calgary on Friday, goes back in for Vancouver after Jacob Markstrom faced the Flames in the second of a back-to-back on Saturday. Miller will take on Pekka Rinne, who starts for the host Preds.

Corey Crawford will look to extend his winning streak to three, as Chicago hosts Detroit. Petr Mrazek is expected to start for the Wings, as he manned the No. 1’s crease at the morning skate.

— Two of the Western Conference’s busiest netminders go head-to-head in Edmonton, as Martin Jones and the Sharks take on Cam Talbot and the Oilers.

— After coming on in relief of Kari Lehtonen in last night’s win over L.A. Antti Niemi starts for Dallas. The host Ducks will go with John Gibson.

 

Purcell’s ‘too good for the American League’ — could trade be coming?

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Another name to keep an eye on as the Mar. 1 trade deadline draws closer — L.A. Kings forward Teddy Purcell.

Well, technically, it’s Ontario Reign forward Teddy Purcell.

A veteran of over 500 big league contests, Purcell signed with the Kings this offseason but lasted just 12 games before getting waived, and was sent to the minors. He’s since shown extremely well in Ontario — 14 points through 12 contests — and, as head coach Mike Stothers explained, is probably too talented to be toiling in AHL.

“You can see his skill level,” Stothers said, per LA Kings Insider. “He’s too good for this league and maybe this is what he needs to get back up to the NHL but it’s almost like he’s a tweener.

“He’s too good for the American League, maybe he’s getting a little longer in the tooth in the NHL, I don’t know. But what he’s brought, it’s what everybody’s looking for. It’s a skill set. The way he hangs onto pucks. The way he makes plays.”

It’s believed Purcell’s financial situation, not his playing ability, was the reason he went unclaimed on waivers. Though his contract isn’t huge, it does carry a $1.6 million cap hit — and to hear Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman explain it, that could be why teams are opting to wait until closer to the deadline to contemplate acquiring him:

Purcell not being picked up on waivers seems purely a budget/cap decision. The Kings let it be known they were willing to trade him, as long as they did not take a contract back in return. That didn’t work.

There are so many teams tight to the cap, they didn’t have room. The Ottawa Senators have space and Purcell played for Guy Boucher in Tampa Bay, but that’s a budget issue.

It’s little consolation for him now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if someone takes a chance later in the year, when teams have more room.

As we wrote earlier, Ottawa remains in the market for help at forward. Purcell’s two best offensive campaigns came under Boucher in Tampa Bay — 51 points in ’10-11, 65 points in ’11-12 — and there is some good playoff experience on his resume. Purcell was nearly a point-a-game player for the Bolts as they advanced to the Eastern Conference final six years ago.

Stothers made it clear what the goal is for both the organization and player.

“I know Teddy wants to get back in the NHL,” he said. “We certainly hope that he can and do so in rapid fashion.”