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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Will Calgary consider goalie switch for Game 4?

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Earlier this year, Chad Johnson took over the Flames’ starting gig from the struggling Brian Elliott. Johnson played exceptionally well, and some suggested he might’ve saved Calgary’s season.

So, could the Flames go back to the well and climb out of this playoff hole?

They might have to.

Stream Ducks vs. Flames: Game 4 on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET, USA)

Elliott looked shaky in Monday’s 5-4 OT loss to the Ducks, one that put the Flames on the brink of elimination. He was unable to close the door after his teammates raced out to a 4-1 lead, and the unraveling began with this Shea Theodore marker late in the second period:

It ended with another odorous goal in OT, one in which Elliott’s rebound ricocheted off teammate Michael Stone and into the back of the net.

“It’s not an easy [loss], especially personally,” Elliott said following the game, per the Herald. “I didn’t feel I played very well. I let the team down a little bit. It’s tough to lose off a bounce like that.

“You want to help the team more than you hurt it. It’s tough to swallow right now. The guys spotted four goals, and we should win a game like that.”

Elliott’s numbers have steadily declined as the series has progressed. After making 38 saves on 41 shots in the opener — a .927 save percentage — he’s since allowed eight goals on 48 shots.

An .833 save percentage.

It’s not just the numbers, either. Onlookers noticed that Elliott looked shaky throughout Game 3, suggesting that Anaheim’s comeback strategy consisted of throwing pucks on net, and seeing what Elliott could stop. Clearly, it worked. Theodore’s 4-2 goal game from a bad angle, and Perry’s OT winner was flung on Elliott from a distance.

So… what about Johnson?

Though he’s never played in the playoffs before, the 30-year-old has proven capable of filling the starter’s gig. He was solid in Buffalo two years ago — 22 wins, .920 save percentage, 2.36 GAA — and, as mentioned above, played very well in a No. 1 capacity earlier this season, when head coach Glen Gulutzan adopted a “win and you’re in” strategy for his netminders.

Johnson’s best stretch came in November, when he went 7-3-0 with a .939 save percentage. It allowed the Flames to survive Elliott’s early struggles, and get back into the playoffs after missing last year.

Now, they might need to rely on Johnson yet again.

Hartnell among lineup changes as CBJ looks to avoid sweep (Updated)

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Columbus head coach John Tortorella is shaking things up ahead what could be the last game of the season.

The Blue Jackets, down 3-0 in their first round series to Pittsburgh, are making a series of lineup changes for tonight’s Game 4 at Nationwide — which includes veteran forward Scott Hartnell.

Update: Per the Dispatch, Hartnell is a healthy scratch this evening. He said he was “a little frustrated” with the decision.

Stream Penguins vs. Blue Jackets on NBC Sports

Lukas Sedlak, who’s been out with an upper-body injury, will replace Hartnell up front. This will be Sedlak’s playoff debut, after starring with AHL Cleveland last year en route to the Calder Cup championship.

On defense, Zach Werenski was already ruled out for the year due to facial fractures suffered in Game 3.  But that’s not the only change on defense. Youngster Scott Harrington is being replaced as well, after playing over 18 minutes on Sunday.

With Werenski and Harrington out, the Jackets will play Kyle Quincey and Markus Nutivaara. Both will be making their postseason debuts as well.

Finally, Matt Calvert will draw back into the lineup after missing Game 3 to suspension. Appears as though he’ll go in for Sonny Milano, the rookie that played less than seven minutes against Pittsburgh the other night.

“It was tough to watch Game Three,” Calvert said, per the Jackets website. “You want to be out there helping your teammates. I’m just going to come back, play my game, bring energy, play hard and try to help out the team.”

Related: Fleury ‘seems to stop the hard ones and maybe let in the easy ones,’ says Hartnell

 

Kings sign Minnesota-Duluth scorer Iafallo

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Alex Iafallo, the Minnesota-Duluth senior that finished 12th in the country in scoring this season, has signed an entry-level deal with the L.A. Kings, according to the Buffalo News.

Iafallo, 23, is coming off a terrific campaign with the Bulldogs. He scored 21 goals and 51 points in 42 games, helping the school advance to the Frozen Four — where he was named to the All-Tournament team.

An undrafted free agent, Iafallo could quickly find himself in action with the Kings’ AHL club in Ontario. The Reign are set to begin their Calder Cup playoff campaign against rivals San Diego.

 

Fowler resumes skating, doesn’t want to talk Giordano hit

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Already up 2-0 in their series against the Flames, the Ducks had another positive development ahead of Monday’s Game 3.

Cam Fowler, who’s been sidelined with a knee injury following a hit from Calgary captain Mark Giordano, resumed skating and met with the media this afternoon.

Fowler hasn’t played since Apr. 4 and, at the time of the injury, the Ducks said he’d be sidelined for 2-6 weeks. His return certainly appears to be on the early side. Anaheim head coach Randy Carlyle said the 25-year-old “is on pace to be available to us shortly.”

Stream Ducks vs. Flames on NBC Sports

Getting Fowler back would be huge for the Ducks, though the club’s defensive depth has been impressive. In Saturday’s 3-2 win, Anaheim was down the services of Fowler and Sami Vatanen, and forced to rely on a young quartet of Hampus Lindholm (26:33 TOI), Brandon Montour (21:16), Josh Manson (20:51) and Shea Theodore (20:03).

Manson is the oldest guy of that group, and he’s 25 years old.

As for the hit that sidelined Fowler?

Well, he wasn’t biting.

“It’s something that’s in the past,” he said, per the O.C. Register. “Honestly, I don’t really want to get into the hit too much.”

Fowler might not want to get into it, but others certainly have. Ducks GM Bob Murray ripped into Giordano and accused him of being a dirty player with a history of knee-on-knee hits. That was followed by a retort from Flames GM Brad Treliving, who called Murray’s comments “asinine.”

Ducks fans got in on the action, too. Giordano was booed almost every time he touched the puck in Games 1 and 2.

Kraft Hockeyville: Family, community key for Michigan native Fowler

Anaheim Ducks blueliner Cam Fowler knows all about tight-knit hockey communities.

He’s been a part of several.

Born in Windsor, Ontario but raised in Farmington Hills, MI, Fowler was a standout player in high school before spending two years with the U.S. National Team Development program. From there, he joined the OHL’s Spirfires for his draft year.

After significant time on the East Coast, Fowler made a big move upon being selected 12th overall by Anaheim in 2010. He’s since become a staple of the Ducks organization, appearing in nearly 500 regular-season contests over a six-year career.

Though he’s currently sidelined with a knee injury, Fowler did resume skating this morning and could be back for the Ducks sooner than expected. Game 3 of their first-round series goes tonight in Calgary, and you can catch the game on NBCSN starting at 10 p.m. ET.

Related:

West finalists for Kraft Hockeyville

East finalists for Kraft Hockeyville