Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
Getty

Kesler returns to All-Star Game, looking to prove contract doubters wrong

8 Comments

In the summer of 2015, Anaheim signed Ryan Kesler to a six-year, $41.25 million extension — a deal that would keep the veteran center under contract until he was 38, and pay him $6.875M annually.

The move came with some scrutiny. Kesler was already on the wrong side of 30 and had logged over 800 career games, with many hard minutes therein. He was also coming off a modest 47-point campaign.

The critiques were out there. And apparently Kesler hear ’em.

“That gets me going,” Kesler said this week, per the L.A. Times. “Ever since I signed that contract, I want to prove people wrong. You try not to hear it but you hear what people say, and I think that motivates me every year to come back and prove that I’m not quote-unquote over the hill.”

Kesler has been full value since signing the deal. Last year, he put up 53 points — his highest total since the ’10-11 campaign in Vancouver — and was named a Selke finalist.

This year, he’s been Anaheim’s MVP.

Kesler leads the Ducks in goals and points, with 16 and 35, and is playing an absolute boatload of minutes, averaging 21:51 per night. That puts him second among all forwards in terms of ice time — only Chicago’s Patrick Kane averages more — and he remains a solid possession metrics guy, often tasked with shutting down the opposition’s top forwards.

(He also remains dominant in the faceoff circle, leading the NHL in draws won.)

As such, Kesler’s headed to his second career All-Star Game, and first in six years. It’s a deserved honor. The Ducks are neck-and-neck with San Jose for top spot in the Pacific Division, despite relatively down offensive years from Corey Perry (just seven goals through 43 games) and Ryan Getzlaf (who’s been dealing with various injuries all season).

Even Getzlaf admits Kesler has been driving the bus in Anaheim.

“He’s been our best player all season,” the captain said, per the O.C. Register. “Without a doubt.”

NHL unveils All-Star Game jerseys

NHL
6 Comments

On Tuesday, the NHL announced which players would be participating in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles (Jan. 29 at 3:30 pm on NBC and the NBC Sports app).

On Wednesday, the league revealed what they’d be wearing.

More:

The four All-Star teams – the Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan and Pacific – will wear jerseys that feature colors worn by the Kings during their 50-year history: Purple (Forum Blue), Gold, Black and White. The silver also is a nod to the NHL Centennial logo and the NHL Shield.

The Pacific Division (featuring the hometown Kings) will wear the black jersey. The Atlantic Division will wear gold, the Central Division will wear purple and the Metropolitan Division will wear white.

Each jersey features a band of stars that is reminiscent of the uniforms worn in NHL All-Star Games from 1989-91. Each of the 10 stars represents a decade in the 100-year history of the League. Four stars on the socks represent the four divisions in the NHL today.

The 2017 NHL All-Star patch is located on the right shoulder, while a full-color team patch for each player is found on the left shoulder. The custom font for the numbers and player names is inspired by the letters in the iconic HOLLYWOOD sign.

I’m not one for breaking down jersey esthetics, but these are pretty nice. Feel free to add more in the comments section.

Look out, here come the Carolina Hurricanes

Getty Images
4 Comments

On Dec. 10, Carolina suffered a 4-3 loss in San Jose and dropped to 11-11-6 on the year.

Three days later, things took a turn.

Whether it’s fair or not to call it a turning point, something happened to Carolina in a wild 8-6 win over Vancouver on Dec. 13.The victory kickstarted this current stretch in which the ‘Canes are 8-4-1 over their last 13 and have moved to within three points of Philly for the final wild card spot in the East.

Oh, and the ‘Canes have two games in hand on the Flyers. No wonder they’re feeling great.

“We’re confident, each and every night, that we’re going to get two points,” head coach Bill Peters said following Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Columbus, per ESPN. “I believe when I wake up in the morning on game day, we’re leaving at the end of the night with two.”

There are plenty of reasons for Carolina’s success, but one seems to stand out above the rest:

Home cookin’.

Carolina started this season by playing eight of 10 on the road, including a six-game trip to open the campaign (GM Ron Francis said the schedule was “not ideal,” which was putting it lightly.)

Predictably, the ‘Canes struggled to a 3-4-3 start, but there was belief within the organization things would turn when the club finally got a run of games at PNC. And that’s proven to be accurate.

Tuesday’s win over the Blue Jackets pushed Carolina to 8-1-1 in its last 10 at home and, all told, the club has just four regulation losses at PNC this year, one of the top marks in the NHL.

Peters also seems to have found something with the Jeff SkinnerVictor RaskDerek Ryan line, which combined for eight points against Columbus. Ryan, a terrific story who made his NHL debut at age 29, has turned into a bonafide scorer. He’s been a point-a-game guy through five games in January and, on the season, has eight goals and 17 points through 28 games.

Other guys have contributed as well. Jordan Staal, Sebastian Aho and Cam Ward — who made his 17th straight start on Tuesday — have come up with big performances.

If this keeps going, Carolina will have a legit shot at making the postseason for the first time since 2009.

Datsyuk to take KHL break, attend All-Star weekend

Getty
3 Comments

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

Getty
1 Comment

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.