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: Smith makes first start for Coyotes in nearly a month

The Coyotes will welcome back their No. 1 netminder tonight when they host Calgary, as Mike Smith will make his first start since Oct. 18.

Smith, who’s missed the last 12 games with a lower-body injury, stopped 54 of 60 shots before getting hurt — for a .900 save percentage. While those numbers aren’t great, they did come in a small sample size, and it was clear the Coyotes struggled without their veteran presence in goal.

Arizona went 4-8-0 while Smith was out, relying largely on Louis Domingue over that span.

Smith’s return isn’t the only big storyline, however.

For the first time this season, Calgary will start Chad Johnson on back-to-back nights. Johnson is coming off a 27-save shutout win over Minnesota on Tuesday, his second strong effort of the month (back on Nov. 3, he stopped 26 shots in a 3-2 win over the Sharks.)

Given the Flames are desperate for wins and just suffered a major blow with the Johnny Gaudreau injury, head coach Glen Gulutzan seems to be in “play whoever gives us the best chance to win” mode.

That strategy, at least for tonight, comes at the expense of No. 1 netminder Brian Elliott, who hasn’t played since allowing four goals on 28 shots in a loss to the Rangers on Saturday.

Elsewhere…

— Light night on the NHL schedule, with just one other game: In Washington, we’ll get a rematch of last year’s second-round playoff series as Matt Murray and the visiting Penguins take on Braden Holtby and the Caps. Murray has been outstanding since returning from a broken hand, going 4-0-0 with a 1.25 GAA and .961 save percentage.

Ott avoids supplemental discipline for Paquette hit

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Detroit forward Steve Ott won’t face a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety after drilling Tampa Bay’s Cedric Paquette on Tuesday night, a league spokesman confirmed.

Ott tagged Paquette behind the Lightning goal midway through the second period, but wasn’t penalized on the play. He did end up in the sin bin, though, after Brian Boyle made a beeline for Ott and and the two fought in response.

Paquette left the game momentarily, but did return to finish with just under 10 minutes of ice time.

 

No hearing for Morrissey after big Hinostroza hit

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Winnipeg d-man Josh Morrissey won’t face supplemental discipline for his big hit on Chicago’s Vinnie Hinostroza, per the Chicago Tribune.

Morrissey caught the ‘Hawks rookie in the first period of Winnipeg’s eventual 4-0 victory, knocking Hinostroza from the game.

Morrissey received a two-minute charging minor on the play:

Hinostroza suffered an upper-body injury but, per head coach Joel Quenneville, was “all right” following the contest. Quenneville did add that he’d know more today, once Hinostroza underwent further evaluation.

Injuries mount for Detroit at forward — this time, it’s Helm

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Already down the services of Andreas Anathasiou and Thomas Vanek, the Red Wings were dealt another blow on Tuesday night as speedy forward Darren Helm was injured against Tampa Bay.

On Wednesday, the outlook was bleak:

These are difficult times for the Red Wings.

Any positives from their 6-2-0 start have effectively been wiped out as last night’s loss, their seventh in nine games, dropped them to 8-8-1 on the year. Injuries have forced them to dip into the AHL Grand Rapids pool — Tyler Bertuzzi and Anthony Mantha have both been recalled — and it sounds like they’ll make another dip tonight, following the Griffins’ game against Texas.

As for Helm, his loss will be felt. He currently sits tied for second on the team in goals, with four, and averages over 15 minutes per night.

Report: Gaudreau broke finger, will require surgery (Update: Flames confirm)

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Calgary’s disastrous start to the year just got worse.

Per Sportsnet, star forward Johnny Gaudreau — who scored the game-winning goal in last night’s 1-0 victory over Minnesota — has suffered a broken finger and will require surgery.

The loss is a critical blow to an underachieving Flames team that’s already calls for Glen Gulutzan’s job. Gaudreau hasn’t been great to start the year — though few Flames have, which is why they’re 6-10-1 — but he does lead the team in scoring, with 11 points, and has been the club’s most dynamic offensive performer for the last two seasons.

The club has yet to confirm the Sportsnet report, though multiple outlets suggested the injury is believed to be serious, and that Gaudreau was set to undergo tests today.

All eyes will now be on Calgary president Brian Burke. The oft-outspoken executive recently called out Gaudreau and Sean Monahan for their lack of production, suggesting the holdout for — and pressure of — Gaudreau’s new six-year, $40.5 million extension played a role in his slow start.

Update: Calgary has confirmed the original report.