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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Avs to healthy scratch Grigorenko for first time this season

Earlier today, we passed along news of Nikita Zadorov responding — positively — to Colorado making him a healthy scratch.

Now, the Avs are doing the same with another key piece acquired in the Ryan O'Reilly trade.

Mikhail Grigorenko, who has six points while appearing in all 18 games this year, will be parked in the press box when Colorado hosts Edmonton this evening, per the Denver Post.

Grigorenko got off to a reasonably solid start this year, scoring four points in his first seven games, which included a season-high 16:48 of ice time in a win over the Bolts. But things have tailed off in November — he’s failed to crack 10 minutes played in three of his last four games, which included just 9:32 in Monday’s win over the Jackets.

It’s a bit surprising that head coach Jared Bednar would tinker with a winning lineup. Colorado has won back-to-back games for just the second time this year, and is about to embark on a five-game homestand that runs through Dec. 3.

It looks as though Joe Colborne — a healthy scratch against Columbus — will draw back into the lineup tonight.

Preds make moves, waive Carle and Bass

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Nashville exposed a pair of veteran skaters to waivers on Wednesday, putting forward Cody Bass and d-man Matt Carle on the wire.

Bass, 29, has been with the Preds organization for a while and signed a two-year, two-way extension with the club in July. Through nine games this year, he has no points and 19 PIM, while averaging just 6:46 TOI in what’s largely been a fourth-line checking role.

Carle, 32, was signed this summer after getting bought out by the Lightning. Inked to a low-risk deal (one year, $700,000), the hope was that Carle could replicate some of the form shown earlier in his career — a two-time 40-point scorer, Carle was a good offensive defenseman in his prime (which is how he landed a six-year, $33 million deal from the Bolts in the first place).

Like Bass, Carle had a minimal impact in Nashville this season. He appeared in just six games, averaging a shade over 13 minutes per, and hasn’t been in the lineup since Oct. 26.

Should both guys clear, it’s assumed they’ll be assigned to Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.

Banged-up Jets are finally getting healthy — well, healthier anyway

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To say Winnipeg’s had injury problems over the last month would be putting it mildly.

The club has, at one time or another, been without the services of Bryan Little, Drew Stafford, Kyle Connor, Mathieu Perreault, Joel Armia and Shawn Matthias — which, for those of you that don’t like counting, is six regular forwards out of the rotation.

Which is why today was a good day in the ‘Peg.

The club activated Stafford off IR, and sent Quinton Howden to AHL Manitoba. Stafford, 31, has been out of the lineup since getting hurt in an Oct. 25 loss to Dallas, and has missed the last 15 games as a result.

Stafford’s return comes one day after Little — hurt in the season-opener against Carolina — returned to practice in a non-contact role. Connor also returned wearing a non-contact jersey, after sustaining an upper-body injury earlier this month.

The Jets will undoubtedly welcome any boost Stafford, Little or Connor can provide. After a nice stretch of play that saw them move to 9-7-2 on the year, they’ve flatlined lately, dropping three straight games while getting outscored 12-4 (and getting out-shot 100-73).

To put things in perspective, Winnipeg should be lauded for treading water thus far — don’t forget the club was also without Jacob Trouba, who made his season debut on Nov. 11. Head coach Paul Maurice has been forced into a constant juggling act with his lineup, and has dressed 18 different forwards already.

Winnipeg is back in action tonight, when it takes on Minnesota.

 

Couturier on IR after Trocheck collision, Flyers recall Laughton (Updated)

Already down the services of Boyd Gordon and Michal Neuvirth, Philly added a third player to its injured reserve list on Wednesday — Sean Couturier, who suffered an MCL sprain in last night’s game against the Panthers.

Couturier was hurt in the second period after getting tangled with Florida forward Vincent Trocheck. He left the game immediately, and didn’t return.

In a related move, the Flyers recalled Scott Laughton from AHL Lehigh Valley.

Losing Couturier is a major blow. He, along with linemates Jake Voracek and rookie Travis Konecny, has been a staple of the Flyers lineup this season. The 23-year-old has five goals and eight points through 20 games, averaging 18:07 TOI while serving as one of the club’s top faceoff men.

If there is a silver lining here, it’s Laughton. A former first-round pick, he was in the American League on a conditioning loan — he’s yet to play for Philly this year, due to a lower-body ailment — and looked good, scoring eight points in eight games for the Phantoms.

The Flyers are back in action tonight in Tampa Bay, and it’s possible Laughton could make his regular season debut.

Update: Per Flyers GM Ron Hextall, Couturier will be out 4-6 weeks.

 

Zadorov: Healthy scratch was ‘not fun,’ but confidence still high

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This has not been a banner campaign for Nikita Zadorov, yet his spirits remain intact.

Zadorov, the 16th overall pick at the 2013 draft, is averaging just over 17 minutes per game through 17 contests, with no goals and just two points (and a minus-6 rating).

That resulted in Avs head coach Jared Bednar healthy scratching Zadorov for win in Minnesota over the weekend, then easing the young Russian d-man back in during Monday’s OT win in Columbus (Zadorov played just 16:21, only Patrick Wiercioch played less among d-men).

“I had good talks with everybody in the organization, all the head guys,” Zadorov said, per the Denver Post. “It’s not fun to be in the stands but it’s a learning process. You forget about it, come back and refresh. Mentally, some players lose their confidence when (you’re scratched).

“I had kind of a bumpy first period last game, but second period I got my game back. My confidence is still really high and I feel good.”

Zadorov has been something of a disappointment since coming over from Buffalo in the Ryan O'Reilly blockbuster. He appeared in just 22 games last year, spending most of his time in AHL San Antonio, but did fare well with the Rampage — 10 goals and 29 points in 52 games.

Sometimes, it’s hard to forget Zadorov is still only 21 years old. That’s what happens when you debut as an 18-year-old, play 60 games as a 19-year-old and are considered one of the keys of a noteworthy trade. He’s still third among d-men in his draft class in terms of games played — only Seth Jones and ex-Sabres running mate Rasmus Ristolainen have more — and a few other ’13 first-rounders are looking to find their way, too (Mirco Mueller, Shea Theodore, Josh Morrissey, Ryan Pulock, etc.)

Of course, the Avs might not have the patience right now to watch a young defenseman learn on the job. From Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

American Thanksgiving is another critical point on the NHL calendar. Since the NHL expanded to 30 teams, 78 per cent of those in playoff positions as of that date reach the playoffs. As a result, teams have a better idea of what they are and what they need.

Some of the wishes are obvious. Colorado and Detroit are looking for defencemen that can make a difference, although it’s not as if you can grow them in Toews’ garden. (The Avalanche are looking for more than one, likely two.)