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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Goalie nods: Kings to start Quick as playoff fight continues

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After newly-acquired Ben Bishop stopped 28 of 30 shots in a 2-1 OT loss to Calgary on Tuesday, the Kings will flip the script and go back to Jonathan Quick when they host Toronto at Staples.

Quick is 1-0-1 since returning from a lower-body injury that’s sidelined him for almost the entire campaign. Things started brightly, making 32 saves in a 4-1 win over Anaheim, but Quick struggled in Monday’s 5-4 OT loss to the Wild, allowing the five goals on 35 shots.

This Quick-Bishop situation will probably be featured quite a bit moving forward.

The Kings are desperate for wins — they head into tonight’s action one point back of St. Louis for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — and with two No. 1 netminders in the fold, head coach Darryl Sutter’s starting goalie decisions will be constantly analyzed.

For the Leafs, Frederik Andersen starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Braden Holtby, who’s won each of his last three starts, gets the call when the Caps host the Devils in Washington. He’ll be up against Cory Schneider, who is trending in the exact opposite direction having lost his last three.

— Good matchup in Boston, as Tuukka Rask and the Bruins host Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers.

Roberto Luongo made 23 saves in a win over Carolina on Tuesday, and will draw back in tonight as the Panthers visit Philly. Steve Mason, fresh off a 33-save shutout of the Avs, goes right back in for the Flyers.

— Another good matchup, this time in Columbus. Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets host Devan Dubnyk and the Wild.

Mike Smith (yanked in a loss to Boston on Tuesday) and the reeling Coyotes limp into Buffalo, where they’ll take on Robin Lehner and the Sabres. Lehner is coming off a rough outing of his own, allowing five goals on 41 shots in a loss to Nashville.

Mike Condon started last game, so Craig Anderson returns to the Ottawa net as the Sens host Colorado. No word yet on an Avs starter.

— In P.K. Subban‘s return to Montreal, good buddy Carey Price gets the nod for the Habs. The Preds are going with Pekka Rinne.

— After getting yanked from Saturday’s blowout loss to Columbus, Thomas Greiss is back in for the Isles. The host Stars are going with Antti Niemi.

Ryan Miller goes for the Canucks, who are in San Jose. The Sharks will give Aaron Dell a rare start, his first since Feb. 18.

 

 

Jets welcome back Dano, out two months after ugly crash

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Back in late December, Winnipeg forward Marko Dano suffered what appeared to be a serious injury on an ends-boards crash in a loss to Columbus.

“It’s not good,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said at the time, per the Winnipeg Sun.

As such, today’s news is extremely positive — Dano will make his return to the Jets lineup as they host the Blues. It’ll be the first time he’s suited in up 26 games.

“I feel much better now,” Dano said yesterday, per the team website. “I’m almost back to normal.”

Dano went feet-first into the end boards behind the Columbus goal during the second period, and immediately began writhing in pain. He had to be helped off the ice by teammates.

The 22-year-old opened the year with Winnipeg’s AHL affiliate, but had been fairly productive since being recalled in early November. Dano had 10 points through 28 games, while averaging 11:28 TOI per night.

Tonight, former first-round pick (27th overall, ’13) will skate on a line with Andrew Copp and Chris Thorburn.

Flyers sign first-rounder Rubtsov to ELC

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German Rubtsov, taken 22nd overall by Philly at the 2016 draft, has signed his entry-level deal, the club announced on Thursday.

Rubstov, 18, recently departed his KHL club and joined QMJHL Chicoutimi, where he’s been on fire with eight goals and 20 points in his first 14 games.

Rubtsov is an interesting story. He was the fifth-ranked European skater by Central Scouting, but was part of the Russian squad that was pulled out of the world under-18 championships in April.

From Sportsnet:

The belief is that all, or most, of the team, had been on a meldonium regimen, and there were fears that many of the players would test positive at the tournament in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Rubtsov is expected to be a top 25 pick this month in Buffalo, a talented two-way centre who is highly competitive.

“He’s like a dog on a bone,” said one hockey executive.

Another said he’s an “old school Russian centre who cares about the defensive side of the game.”

Philly had the 18th overall selection, but traded down (with Winnipeg) to take Rubtsov at No. 22.

Prior to joining Chicoutimi, he split time between Vityaz’s junior and senior teams, and was part of the Russian contingent that captured bronze at the world juniors.

Washington inks NCAA standout Mitchell

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Busy Thursday in D.C.

Shortly after signing ’16 first-rounder Lucas Johansen, the Caps announced they’ve inked Alaska-Anchorage forward Mason Mitchell to a two-year, entry-level deal.

Mitchell, 22, just wrapped his sophomore campaign for the Seawolves, leading the team in goals (12) while finishing fourth in points. That came after a freshman campaign in which he scored 12 points in 19 games, and was named the team’s rookie of the year.

Several NCAA teams are coming to the end of their respective campaigns, which means NHL clubs will start looking at signing undrafted free agents like Mitchell.

Related: ‘Hits too hard for college’ — Ohio State’s Healey drawing major NHL interest

 

 

Caps sign ‘outstanding draft pick’ Johansen

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Lucas Johansen, the blueliner taken 28th overall at the 2016 draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal with Washington, the club announced on Thursday.

Johansen, the younger brother of Nashville center Ryan Johansen, is in his third season with WHL Kelowna. The 19-year-old has six goals and 36 points through 60 games, slightly off the impressive 10-goal, 49-point effort he put up in his draft year.

“I think he has some special tools, in terms of his ability to slow down the play and see some things that other players don’t,” Washington assistant coach Todd Reirden said after watching Johansen in the preseason, per the Post. “He’s looking like an outstanding draft pick for us and a real great prospect moving forward.”

The Caps announced that Johansen will remain in junior this season.

In a related move, the club also inked another defenseman — 22-year-old Colby Williams — to a two-year, entry-level deal. Williams, who’s been playing with the club’s AHL affiliate in Hershey, was a sixth-round pick in 2015.