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: Allen seeks fifth straight win in another big game for Blues

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The Blues have a chance to push L.A. even further back in their rear view on Wednesday, and they’ll look to the red-hot Jake Allen for help.

Allen will go for his fifth consecutive win tonight when St. Louis takes on the Ducks in Anaheim. With a win, the Blues will move six points clear of the idle Kings for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference.

They have to like their chances, given the way Allen’s played in March.

In four games, he’s allowed just five goals on 125 shots for a sparkling .960 save percentage. That includes Monday’s big 3-1 win over the Kings, in which he made 38 saves.

It’s fair to say no St. Louis player has benefited more from Ken Hitchcock-to-Mike Yeo coaching change than Allen (to be fair, Allen also got a goalie coach change, from Jim Corsi to Martin Brodeur). Allen was also strong in February, posting a .933 save percentage while allowing three goals or fewer in each of his 10 appearances.

For the Ducks, Jonathan Bernier gets another start as John Gibson remains out with a lower-body injury.

Elsewhere…

— Tonight’s Battle of Pennsylvania will see Matt Murray and the Penguins take on Steve Mason and the Flyers. Murray is coming off a 27-save shutout in Vancouver on Saturday, while Mason makes his seventh start in the last eight games.

Anton Khudobin gets a rare start for the B’s, who are in Calgary. Chad Johnson starts ahead of the ailing Brian Elliott (more on that here).

Jimmy Howard made 26 saves in a win over Chicago last Friday (his first game returning from injury), so he’ll draw back in tonight when the Red Wings take on the Avs. Calvin Pickard starts after making 34 saves in a 1-0 loss to Arizona on Monday.

Anisimov out 3-4 weeks, could be done for regular season

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The left leg injury Artem Anisimov suffered last night isn’t serious, but it’s serious enough.

Anisimov, who left Tuesday’s win over Montreal in a walking boot, will miss the next 3-4 weeks of action, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville confirmed this afternoon.

The injury occurred late in the first period of last night’s game, just moments after Anisimov set up a Patrick Kane goal to set a new career-high in points, with 45.

The feat was made even more impressive given Anisimov got there in just 63 games played. His previous high, of 44, came in 82 games with the Rangers during the ’10-11 campaign.

But now, it’s fair to suggest Anisimov won’t build on that total.

If he’s out three weeks, that puts his return at Apr. 5 — at which point Chicago would have just two regular-season games left: Apr. 6 in Anaheim, and Apr. 8 in Los Angeles.

If Anisimov misses a full month, he’d be out until Apr. 12 — which is when the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs will begin.

Chicago is in good shape to deal with such a loss. For one, rookie Nick Schmaltz stepped in to replace Anisimov at center between Kane and Artemi Panarin last night, and looked good.

The ‘Hawks are also going to make the playoffs, and the only real uncertainty is where they’ll finish in the standings. Top spots in the Central Division and Western Conference are within reach — Chicago currently holds both, with 93 points, one more than Minnesota and two up on San Jose.

It is worth noting, however, that the Wild have a game in hand.

Flyers reportedly interested in Union’s Hobey Baker nominees

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Philly knows Union College well — it’s where Shayne Gostisbehere spent three years before going pro — and the club could pick up another couple of Dutchmen in the near future.

Per the Inquirer, the Flyers have interest in forwards Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo, who today were named two of the 10 Hobey Baker Award finalists.

Vecchione, a senior, finished third in the country this year with 62 points in 36 games. The 24-year-old has some familiarity with the Flyers organization, having attended the club’s prospect development camp last summer.

Foo, a junior, finished right behind Vecchione in scoring (fourth nationally, with 59 points). His future remains somewhat unclear, as the Inquirer notes he may return to school to play next year with his brother, Parker, an incoming freshman.

It’s worth noting Vecchione and Foo — who went undrafted — aren’t able to sign yet, as Union season is still underway. The Dutchmen will play in the ECAC semifinals this Friday, in a best-of-three series.

Weight didn’t ‘feel like getting fined,’ but ripped the Isles’ schedule anyway

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Much was made of the Islanders’ recently completed nine-game road swing, in which the team went a solid 5-3-1.

But that hasn’t stopped interim head coach Doug Weight from criticizing the scheduling.

From Newsday:

It’s no secret that the Islanders are embroiled in one of the most difficult stretches hockey has to offer, but after a nine-game road trip and now a back-to-back home-and-away, Weight said it’s taken an undue toll on the team.

“I don’t feel like getting fined but to have five days off and then to fly to Dallas, and then to fly to Chicago, and then you have a 2 o’clock game in Calgary when their building was empty for the next four days . . . and then you come home and you play one home game and go back, it’s ludicrous for me,” he said. “I yelled and screamed (at the team after the loss Monday) anyway because they deserved it.

“You have to be better this time of year, but fatigue is a factor.”

After a 4-3 loss in St. Louis on Saturday to finish the trip, the Isles returned home for a Monday game at Barclays against Carolina. The result was an ugly 8-4 loss, which the team had little time to digest because, on Tuesday, the Isles were right back at it with a return match in Raleigh.

New York showed resilience with a 3-2 OT win, with captain John Tavares netting the GWG.

As a result, the Isles remained right in the thick of the playoff race. They’re currently tied with Tampa Bay on 77 points, but hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference thanks to the ROW tiebreaker (they have 32 wins in regulation and overtime, as opposed to 30 for the Bolts).

Things aren’t going to get much easier for the Isles moving forward, however. They play seven of their final 13 games on the road, including a four-game swing from Apr. 2-8 in buffalo, Nashville, Carolina and New Jersey.

 

Despite being ‘heavily pursued’ by NHL clubs, Sherwood returning to school

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Kiefer Sherwood, the sophomore center that averaged better than a point-per-game for Miami (Ohio), will reportedly return to school rather than sign an entry-level NHL deal, per ESPN’s John Buccigross.

More on Sherwood, from the Columbus Dispatch:

Sherwood, who just completed his sophomore season at Miami University, is being heavily pursued by several NHL clubs with free-agent offers.

Sherwood is the older brother of Kole Sherwood, who signed with the Blue Jackets two summers ago and is playing in the Ontario Hockey League.

Per Buccigross, the Ducks, Flames, Capitals and expansion Golden Knights were all interested in Sherwood, who racked up 14 goals and 38 points in 36 games this season. The Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets “aren’t seen as a likely destination.”