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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With Hamilton and Stone hurt, Flames recall d-man prospect

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Last night’s big 5-0 win over Montreal cost the Flames dearly, as blueliners Dougie Hamilton and Michael Stone were lost to injury.

But that loss is Rasmus Andersson‘s gain.

On Friday, Calgary announced it has recalled Andersson from AHL Stockton, meaning his NHL debut could come tomorrow when the Flames take on the Jets in Winnipeg.

Andersson, 20, was the club’s second-round pick (53rd overall) at the ’15 draft and has fared very well in his first pro campaign. After spending the last two years with OHL Barrie he’s burst onto the American League scene this season, and leads all Heat blueliners with 22 points through 50 games.

As for Hamilton and Stone, their injuries don’t appear to be long-term in nature:

Even if one of them goes tomorrow, Andersson could still get his shot — another Flames d-man, Brett Kulak, is also dealing with injury.

Enstrom out indefinitely with concussion from Sestito hit

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More fallout from Wednesday’s wild Pens-Jets game.

One day after Pittsburgh enforcer Tom Sestito was suspended four games for boarding Tobias Enstrom, the Jets announced that Enstrom is out indefinitely with a concussion suffered on the hit (per Illegal Curve).

Enstrom immediately left the game, a 7-4 Pittsburgh win, and went to local hospital to be checked for a concussion and facial fractures.

This is a tough blow for Winnipeg, a team desperately clinging to fading playoff hopes. The Jets head into tonight’s action five points back of St. Louis for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, but need to leapfrog both the Kings and Blues to get there. What’s more, Winnipeg has played 68 games to Los Angeles’ 66 and St. Louis’ 65.

The Jets were already down a regular defenseman, as Tyler Myers continues to recover from lower-body surgery. It’s likely that Mark Stuart, who was scratched against Pittsburgh, will draw in to replace Enstrom on Saturday, when the Jets host the red-hot Calgary Flames.

 

Red Wings healthy scratch Mantha, call it a ‘teaching moment’

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Anthony Mantha is tied for second on the Red Wings in goals, with 14, and his 33 points are third on the team.

Yet tonight, he’ll be watching as a spectator.

Head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed Mantha will be a healthy scratch against Chicago, after the 22-year-old went pointless in back-to-back losses to the Leafs and Bruins, registering just two shots on goal with a minus-2 rating.

“There are opportunities, in coaching, to have teaching moments to make sure the trajectory of the player is as upward as we are going to need him to be,” Blashill explained ahead of Friday’s tilt against the ‘Hawks, per the Free Press. “He’s going to be a great player in this league. He’s going to be a great player for us, still, this year.

“But tonight, we are going to let him have an opportunity to watch, and then he’ll get back in there. When he gets his opportunity, I assume he is going to be great.”

Mantha arrived in Detroit with great fanfare. The 20th overall pick in 2013 was a scoring machine in junior, recording back-to-back 50-goal campaigns in the Quebec League.

But his professional career has been erratic.

Following his first year (’14-15) with AHL Grand Rapids, Detroit senior VP Jim Devellano infamously called Mantha “very, very, very disappointing.” Things looked to improve in ’15-16, as Mantha played well in the minors and made his NHL debut — but then, things took a turn at the start of this season when he failed to make the team out of training camp.

After racking up 10 points in 10 games for the Griffins, Mantha was recalled and hasn’t looked back.

He’s been productive offensively — and averaging a healthy 16:43 TOI per game — but admitted his overall game has dropped off. Mantha said he needs to be more intense and win more one-on-one battles.

The Red Wings and Blashill will probably face some criticism for this decision, especially since the playoff dream is dead. One could argue playing as much as possible right now is a bigger learning opportunity than sitting.

But Detroit has clearly set a precedent with its youngsters — Andreas Athanasiou was parked back in January — so this could be more about staying consistent, as opposed to sending a message.

NHL responds to AV’s goalie interference complaint

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Last night, Alain Vigneault was displeased that Carolina’s game-tying goal in an eventual 4-3 loss was allowed to stand after his coach’s challenge.

“Ask the league,” he fumed in his postgame availability. “They’re going to spin it anyway so they look alright and that’s the way it always is.”

Today, the NHL responded. From the New York Post:

A league spokesman responded to The Post by email on Friday morning, saying it was incidental contact outside of the crease.

The explanation, which was asked to be paraphrased, went on to say that [‘Canes forward Elias] Lindholm was not in the crease, he was moving laterally, and did not extend any body part or clip [Rangers goalie Antti] Raanta as he was going by.

Vigneault was adamant the “wrong call” was made on the play, noting that Lindholm lifted Raanta’s mask prior to Sebastian Aho‘s point shot going in.

Today’s statement comes after the league initially explained its decision via the Situation Room blog:

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.

Regardless of whatever explanation he received, Vigneault’s sure the goal shouldn’t have counted.

“Of all the times I’ve asked for a coach’s challenge,” he said, “this one I’m sure I’m 100 percent right.”

Dallas re-signs McKenzie, ‘a true home-grown player’

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Gritty forward Curtis McKenzie, in the midst of a career campaign, has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 with the only NHL club he’s ever known, the Dallas Stars.

Dallas made the signing official on Friday.

“Curtis has developed into a strong and tenacious player who has continued to define his role as a valuable member of the team,” GM Jim Nill said in a release. “A true home-grown player, he has worked hard at all levels within the Stars organization and has earned his way onto the NHL roster.”

As Nill mentioned, McKenzie’s ties to Texas run deep. The 26-year-old was taken by the Stars all the way back in 2009 and, following a four-year collegiate career at Miami (Ohio), he turned pro with Dallas’ AHL affiliate in 2012.

In ’13-14, he was named the AHL’s rookie of the year and, the season following, made his big-league debut with Dallas, appearing in 36 games.

After extensive seasoning in Texas, McKenzie broke through this year by posting career highs in games played (43), points (11) and TOI per night (10:49), finally emerging as a full-time NHLer.

Of note, this is second forward Dallas has extended this week. Earlier, the club agreed to terms with veteran Adam Cracknell on a similar one-year deal.