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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More tough times for the Florida Panthers

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A quick rundown of the current state of affairs in Florida:

— Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to Winnipeg was the Panthers’ fifth in their last six games, dropping them to 16-15-8 and sixth place in the Atlantic Division.

— In that loss, forward Seth Griffith suffered a concussion on a hit from Nikolaj Ehlers, one head coach Tom Rowe called “dirty.” That put Griffith on the shelf alongside a slew of fellow injured teammates: Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Alex Petrovic.

— At this morning’s skate ahead of tonight’s game against Nashville, Rowe was in a salty mood:

(The target of Rowe’s ire has yet to be identified.)

It’s fair to speculate frustration levels are high throughout the organization. Florida heads into tonight’s game with a patchwork lineup — per Daily Faceoff, Vincent Trocheck will center the top line between Jaromir Jagr and Jonathan Marchessault, while Nick Bjugstad will man the middle on the second line between Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith.

From there?

Jared McCann, recently recalled from the minors, will skate with Michael Sgarbossa and Colton Sceviour. Captain Derek MacKenzie is on a line with Paul Thompson and Greg McKegg.

Florida will be a team to watch in the coming weeks. After this upcoming back-to-back at home against Nashville and Boston, the club will play six of its next eight on the road, which includes a four-game Western swing through Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Arizona.

Given the Panthers are just 7-8-5 on the road this year, it could be tough sledding.

Stars send Nemeth, who’s been mentioned in trade rumors, to AHL for conditioning

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Dallas d-man Patrik Nemeth, the 41st overall pick in 2010, has been sent to the club’s minor-league affiliate in Texas for a conditioning stint, the team announced on Friday.

The decision comes after Nemeth had appeared in just 16 of Dallas’ 39 games this season, averaging 15:59 TOI per. He hasn’t been in the lineup since getting just over seven minutes in a game against L.A. on Dec. 23.

There’s been plenty of discussion about Dallas potentially moving on from the Swedish rearguard this year. Back in mid-December, Morning-News beat writer Mike Heika penned the following:

They need to move Patrik Nemeth. He is a good person in a bad situation, and they have plenty of depth in the minors. Moving Nemeth would help the mindset of Nemeth, Oleksiak and Johns, and I think it is necessary to help the mindset of these young defensemen right now.

That also would allow them to carry two extra forwards, and that could allow Lindy Ruff to tweak his lineup more strategically.

When we see what direction this team is heading after January 4, the guess is the potential for trades (and more than just Nemeth) will probably open up quite a bit.

(That Jan. 4 date was picked because it marked the end of a lengthy holiday break for the Stars.)

Dallas’ had a logjam on defense all year long. Nine different d-men have dressed, including ’14 first-rounder Julius Honka, and 22-year-old Esa Lindell has seen a significant spike in usage. Lindell’s TOI is up to 20:21 per game — he only averaged 14:03 last year — and he’s found a niche skating alongside John Klingberg.

As for Nemeth… well, the 16 games played suggests he’s on the outside looking in, which could translate into a change of scenery. Nemeth is 24 and on a cap-friendly deal — $900,000, expires this year — so there would probably be some interest in acquiring his services.

Of course, the jury’s still out on how effective he can be at the NHL level, if effective at all. He has just 84 career games on his resume despite debuting four seasons ago and has limited offensive upside, with no goals and just 11 assists over that stretch.

Devils captain Greene has ironman streak snapped

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There hasn’t been a more consistent lineup presence in New Jersey over the last few years than Andy Greene.

Which makes today’s development so noteworthy.

Greene, who has been dealing with an upper-body injury, will miss tonight’s game against Toronto at Prudential, per NHL.com. That will snap his consecutive games played streak at 350 — the third-longest in Devils history — and will mark his first missed game since the ’11-12 campaign.

New Jersey’s captain for each of the last two seasons, Greene’s had a tough year. His TOI is down to 21:43 per night and while he does have fairly decent offensive production — nine points through 39 games has him on pace to beat last year’s 13 — it figures to be well off the career-high of 37 he posted a few years ago.

No word yet on who will replace Greene in the lineup, but it’s likely Ben Lovejoy will see another uptick in minutes as a result:

Goalie nods: Battle of the backups in L.A., as Coreau faces Zatkoff

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There could be some offense tonight at Staples.

The visiting Detroit Red Wings, who started and lost with Petr Mrazek in goal in Anaheim last night, will give Jared Coreau his fifth career start when they take on the Kings in L.A.

The Kings, in turn, will counter with little-used backup Jeff Zatkoff, after Peter Budaj beat the Sharks on Tuesday.

Coreau, who’s spent a good chunk of the year in AHL Grand Rapids, is up with Detroit because of an injury to Jimmy Howard. He got a plum gig on Jan. 1 — earning a start in the Centennial Classic — but his numbers on the season aren’t very good: 3.43 GAA, and .889 save percentage.

Zatkoff, originally signed to be the Kings’ No. 2 — only to get hurt and lose the gig to Budaj — also has pedestrian numbers on the year. He’s 2-5-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .892 save percentage, and hasn’t played since a loss in Dallas on Dec. 23.

Elsewhere…

— The Oilers are going back to Cam Talbot, after he allowed three goals on 35 shots in a loss to Columbus on Tuesday. Talbot is likely to face Tuukka Rask, who was the first goalie off at Boston’s morning skate.

— The Blue Jackets will look to match the longest winning streak in NHL history tonight, and will do it with the NHL’s reigning star of the month, Sergei Bobrovsky, in goal. Washington will counter with Braden Holtby, who was hooked from Tuesday’s dramatic comeback OT win over the Leafs.

— Tampa Bay continues to ride Andrei Vasilevskiy with Ben Bishop out injured. Vasilevskiy hasn’t exactly responded to the challenge, though, posting a .898 save percentage since Big Ben went down. No word yet on a starter for the visiting Predators.

Cam Ward, who’s been one of the busiest netminders in the league this year, gets another start for Carolina. The Blues will go with Jake Allen, fresh off a Winter Classic win over Chicago.

Anders Nilsson gets back-to-back starts for the Sabres, after stopping 24 of 25 shots in a win over the Rangers on Tuesday. The host Blackhawks will start Corey Crawford.

— Excellent matchup in San Jose, where the red-hot Devan Dubnyk takes on Martin Jones and the Sharks.

Plenty of intrigue as AHL announces All-Star rosters

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The American Hockey League announced the 48 players selected to its annual All-Star Game on Thursday, and there was no shortage of accompanying storylines.

Twelve rookies and seven first-round draft picks were named and, all told, 27 players participating have been recalled to the NHL already this season.

Here’s a quick look at some of the more eye-catching narratives:

• The seven first-round picks?

Rangers forward Nicklas Jensen (29th overall, ’11), Toronto forward Kasperi Kapanen (22nd overall, ’14), Devils forward John Quenneville (30th overall, ’14), Jets forward Jack Roslovic (25th overall, ’15), Stars d-man Julius Honka (14th overall, 14), Flames forward Mark Jankowski (21st overall, ’12) and Coyotes forward Brendan Perlini (12th overall, ’14).

• Utica d-man Jordan Subban, the younger brother of P.K. Subban, made his first-ever All-Star game. Subban failed to crack the Canucks out of training camp this year and has yet to be recalled, but has racked up eight goals and 20 points in 29 games for the Comets, and looked good doing so.

• B’s goalie prospect Zane McIntyre made it, but he might not be around for the festivities. With the struggling Anton Khudobin clearing waivers today, many expect McIntyre to get the call up to Boston, and begin serving as Tuukka Rask‘s backup.

• We’ve written quite a bit about high-scoring Ducks blueliner Brandon Montour, and how he might affect Anaheim’s trade deadline strategy. Montour earned his second consecutive ASG nod, but his participation is questionable as he’s currently up with the Ducks.

• No shortage of veteran presences on this year’s roster. Minnesota’s Teemu Pulkkinen, claimed off waivers from Detroit earlier this season, will represent Iowa. Michael Leighton, the 35-year-old journeyman that saw some time with the ‘Canes this year, will represent Charlotte. And veteran AHLers like Chris Bourque (Capitals), T.J. Brennan (Flyers) and Brad Hunt (Blues) are all there as well.

Here’s the full roster breakdown:

Atlantic Division AHL All-Stars
F Chris Bourque (“C”), Hershey Bears (5th appearance)
F Travis Boyd, Hershey Bears (1st)
D T.J. Brennan, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (4th)
F Jake Guentzel, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Danton Heinen, Providence Bruins (1st)
G Tristan Jarry, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Nicklas Jensen, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
F Taylor Leier, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
G Zane McIntyre, Providence Bruins (1st)
D Devon Toews, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1st)
F Jordan Weal, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (2nd)
D Mackenzie Weegar, Springfield Thunderbirds (1st)
Coach: Clark Donatelli, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)

North Division AHL All-Stars
F Casey Bailey, Binghamton Senators (1st appearance)
D Mark Barberio, St. John’s IceCaps (3rd)
F Joe Blandisi, Albany Devils (1st)
F Yanni Gourde, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Kasperi Kapanen, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Brendan Leipsic, Toronto Marlies (2nd)
G Charlie Lindgren, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
F John Quenneville, Albany Devils (1st)
F Cole Schneider, Rochester Americans (1st)
D Jordan Subban, Utica Comets (1st)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (3rd)
G Linus Ullmark, Rochester Americans (1st)
Coach: Benoit Groulx, Syracuse Crunch (1st)

Central Division AHL All-Stars
F Spencer Abbott, Rockford IceHogs (1st appearance)
F Kenny Agostino, Chicago Wolves (1st)
F Oliver Bjorkstrand, Cleveland Monsters (1st)
D Alexandre Carrier, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Ryan Craig (“C”), Cleveland Monsters (1st)
D Brad Hunt, Chicago Wolves (4th)
G Michael Leighton, Charlotte Checkers (5th)
F Matt Lorito, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Teemu Pulkkinen, Iowa Wild (2nd)
F Jack Roslovic, Manitoba Moose (1st)
D Robbie Russo, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
G Juuse Saros, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
Coach: Todd Nelson, Grand Rapids Griffins (2nd)

Pacific Division AHL All-Stars
F Taylor Beck, Bakersfield Condors (1st appearance)
F Jonny Brodzinski, Ontario Reign (1st)
F A.J. Greer, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
G Troy Grosenick, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
D Julius Honka, Texas Stars (1st)
F Mark Jankowski, Stockton Heat (1st)
D Vincent LoVerde, Ontario Reign (2nd)
G Spencer Martin, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
D Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (2nd)
F Daniel O’Regan, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
F Brendan Perlini, Tucson Roadrunners (1st)
D Kyle Wood, Tucson Roadrunners (1st)
Coach: Mike Stothers, Ontario Reign (5th; 3rd as head coach)