Mike Halford

Thomas Greiss

Goalie nods: With Halak hurt, Greiss likely to start for Isles

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From the “they say it’s not a goalie controversy, but sure could be one” file — after coming on in relief of the injured Jaroslav Halak in last night’s win over Pittsburgh, all signs point to Thomas Greiss getting the nod for the Isles tonight against the Leafs.

Greiss, arguably the NHL’s top backup netminder this year, has posted terrific numbers — 18-6-3, 2.20 GAA, .930 save percentage — which has led to whispers that maybe, just maybe, he could be the Isles’ best netminder.

Not Halak.

While Halak has solid numbers himself this year (18-13-1, .919 save percentage, 2.30 GAA), he had a fairly mediocre month of February, going 4-4-0 with a .905 save percentage.

Greiss, meanwhile, went 3-1-1 with a .945.

As we’ve said repeatedly in this column, Greiss was a fantastic signing from GM Garth Snow and has provided incredible value, given he’s on a two-year, $3 million deal with a $1.5M average annual cap hit.

Looking ahead, one has to wonder if Greiss will shift from being one of the best value backups in the NHL, to one of the best value starters.

For Toronto, Garret Sparks is in goal.

Elsewhere…

— It’s Chicago versus St. Louis on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET), which means Corey Crawford will take on Jake Allen in goal.

Joni Ortio goes for the Flames, who are hosting Nashville. The Preds didn’t skate this morning, and Pekka Rinne won last night in Winnipeg, meaning this could be a Carter Hutton start.

— After stopping 37 shots in a win over Arizona on Monday, Semyon Varlamov gets the start for Colorado. Looks like the Ducks will go with John Gibson.

Jacob Markstrom versus Louis Domingue as the Canucks host the Coyotes in Arizona.

— Marquee matchup in Los Angeles tonight as Braden Holtby and the Caps take on Jonathan Quick and the Kings.

Petry undergoes sports hernia surgery, out 12 weeks

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Three
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Montreal ruled Jeff Petry out for the remainder of the season last month, but there is some news on the veteran defenseman’s health — per the club, Petry underwent successful sports hernia surgery on Wednesday morning, and will need an estimated 12 weeks of recovery time.

Petry, who’s currently in the first of a five-year, $33 million deal, was a key cog on the blueline this season. The former Edmonton Oiler came to Montreal at last year’s trade deadline and immediately impressed, with seven points in 19 games and another three in 12 playoff contests.

That effort led GM Marc Bergevin to retain Petry before he could hit free agency. Petry responded with 16 points through 51 games this year, and was averaging over 21 minutes a night prior to getting hurt.

Liles to have hearing after illegal check to Kucherov’s head (Video)

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Recently acquired B’s defenseman John-Michael Liles will have a disciplinary hearing for his hit on Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov from Tuesday night, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has announced.

The incident occurred early in Boston’s eventual 1-0 win. Liles wasn’t penalized on the play and Kucherov, while briefly shaken, did remain in the game and finished with over 16 minutes of ice time.

Following the contest, Liles addressed the hit.

“I didn’t think I came up high with it. I thought I just tried to step into him. I don’t know if he was falling or if he ducked. Obviously he was down for a while. I didn’t see a replay on it so I’m not really sure,” said Liles, per CSNNE.com.

“I’m not trying to hit him up high. Most guys, I can’t even reach their heads. Just trying to do my job at the blue line, to step up and just get a piece of him. I didn’t think my elbow came up high at all.”

 

Video: After ‘shocking’ altercation with Polak, Nurse to have disciplinary hearing

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Darnell Nurse‘s actions on Tuesday night have earned him a meeting with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

After jumping Roman Polak late in San Jose’s 3-0 win over the Oilers — a move described as “kind of shocking” and “terrible” by various members of the Sharks — Nurse has been scheduled for a Thursday disciplinary hearing under Rule 46.2 (Aggressor).

Per the NHL rule book, the infraction reads like this:

The aggressor in an altercation shall be the player who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant.

A player must be deemed the aggressor when he has clearly won the fight but he continues throwing and landing punches in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself.

A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed a major penalty for fighting and a game misconduct. A player who is deemed to be the aggressor of an altercation will have this recorded as an aggressor of an altercation for statistical and suspension purposes.

A player who is deemed to be both the instigator and aggressor of an altercation shall be assessed an instigating minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, a ten-minute misconduct (instigator) and a game misconduct penalty (aggressor).

Nurse wasn’t given an instigator on the play, but did receive a fighting major and roughing minor.

Needless to say, the Sharks were displeased with the rookie d-man’s antics.

“It was terrible,” Logan Couture said, per CSN Bay Area. “I was right on the bench. Roman accidentally trips [Matt] Hendricks. I guess he stepped on his stick, I don’t know. Then he’s trying to change. Nurse has the puck, shoots it at him, drops his gloves and jumps him.

“Roman didn’t even have his gloves off. Our guy jumped onto the ice because Roman was coming off. Then [Nurse] starts punching him and Roman couldn’t even defend himself. It’s clearly an instigator and I’m sure he’ll be suspended.”

Devils sign Brown University leading scorer Lappin

Ray Shero
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College free agent season is upon us, and the Devils got into the action on Wednesday by agreeing to terms with Brown University standout Nick Lappin.

Per GM Ray Shero, the Devils have inked Lappin to a two-year, entry-level contract — one that begins in ’16-17. For now, Lappin will play with New Jersey’s AHL affiliate in Albanty on an amateur try-out deal.

Lappin, 23, just wrapped a four-year career with the Bears, leading the team in goals (17) and points (33) this season. He was also named to the All-Ivy League first team, serving as one of the team’s assistant captains.

Lappin is the son of ex-NHLer Peter Lappin, who appeared in games for both the Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks in the late 80s and early 90s.