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 good news for Jets, as Perreault returns from 14-game absence

Maybe Brough should jinx the Jets more often.

After a hideous five-game losing streak in which they were outscored 20-6 and out-shot 156-112, things have started to go in a better direction.

Tonight, the club will welcome Mathieu Perreault back, after Perreault missed the last 14 games with an upper-body injury suffered in early November.

Perreault will skate as a fourth-line winger against the Oilers this evening, illustrating the depth Winnipeg now has up front. Perreault’s scored 40-plus points in each of the last three years, and finished tied with Mark Scheifele for third in assists (32) in ’15-16.

Perreault’s return isn’t the only thing trending in the right direction.

Winnipeg has won two straight, which included Connor Hellebuyck’s terrific 42-save shutout over the Preds on Sunday. And in Tuesday’s win over the Devils, the Jets welcomed Bryan Little back into the lineup, after Little was knocked out of action in the first game of the season.

The veteran center logged more than 20 minutes against New Jersey, just to give an idea of how big a role he plays for the Jets.

 

 

 

Vesey expected to draw boos in Buffalo tonight, but Sabres have no ‘ill feelings’

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Jimmy Vesey could’ve been a Buffalo Sabre. But ultimately, he chose not to be.

That fact — granted, one lacking a significant amount of detail — is the big reason why Vesey will be met with jeers tonight when he and the New York Rangers take on the Sabres in Buffalo.

Fans at KeyBank will boo, which is to be expected. GM Tim Murray acquired Vesey’s negotiating rights from Nashville in June, hoping to use a near two-month window to try and convince Vesey to sign with his club. But Vesey, fresh off a Hobey Baker win at Harvard, opted instead to test unrestricted free agency rather than ink in Buffalo, and joined the Blueshirts.

For all the angst Sabres supporters might have over what transpired, those within the organization insist there’s no hard feelings.

“I’m not really sure why,” Eichel told the Buffalo News, when asked about the prospect of fans booing Vesey. “He was a free agent. It’s his own decision to make a decision where he wants to play. If any of us were in his situation I’m sure a lot would go into a decision like that. Obviously would have loved to have him in Buffalo but he made a decision and obviously he’s happy with that one.

“Can’t blame a guy for that.”

Buffalo head coach Dan Bylsma pretty much said the same. While he admitted he’d “like to have ill feelings about Jimmy and the situation,” he went on to say he couldn’t. Vesey exercised a practice afforded to him within the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement and, regardless of thoughts and feelings and opinions on the matter, he did play by the rules.

So far, things have worked out pretty well in New York. Vesey has eight goals and 14 points through 24 games, averaging 14:29 TOI while showing an ability to play up and down the lineup (tonight, he projects to skate alongside Kevin Hayes and Rick Nash).

Thursday won’t be the only time Vesey’s going to get razzed, though.

In just over two weeks, the Rangers play their first game of the year in Nashville.

Despite all the healthy scratches, Blues ‘have a lot of confidence’ in Yakupov

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Nail Yakupov has been in the press box for seven of St. Louis’ last 12 games, and that’s expected to become eight in 13 when the Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.

That stat might have some wondering: Does GM Doug Armstrong regret acquiring Yakupov from Edmonton?

The answer: No. Not yet, anyway.

“I have a lot of confidence in Yak that he’s going to keep his nose to the grindstone and when he gets his opportunity, he’s just got to make the most of it,” Armstrong said, per the Post-Dispatch. “We look at it from how our team is doing, not how each individual player is doing, and our team is doing well. He’s part of our team.”

When in the lineup, Yakupov’s been fairly productive this season. He has two goals and five points through 16 games — averaging just a shade over 10 minutes per night — and there have been zero complaints about his effort, energy and attitude in the room.

In fact, everybody in St. Louis seems to be saying variations of the same thing. Yak’s a good guy, works hard, good player, etc. etc. It’s just really tough to crack the lineup right now (which is fair, given the Blues are No. 2 in the Western Conference standings and No. 4 in the league overall).

Armstrong also noted the club had no regrets about getting Yakupov out of Edmonton, noting the low price point (a third-round pick) and calling it a “worthwhile gamble.”

One has to think Armstrong made the Yakupov move in the event one of his core forwards gets hurt. Jaden Schwartz, Alex Steen and Patrik Berglund have all had injury problems over the last couple of years.

Anderson takes leave of absence from Sens as wife battles cancer

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OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson has taken a leave of absence from the team as his wife battles a rare form of throat cancer.

The Senators announced the news on Twitter and said Anderson isn’t expected to be available for Ottawa’s game Thursday against visiting Philadelphia.

Nicholle Anderson has been diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a cancer that starts in the upper part of the throat behind the nose and near the base of skull.

She is undergoing treatment at the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Mike Condon and the recently recalled Andrew Hammond will take on the goaltending duties in Anderson’s absence. Anderson is 12-5-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average this season.

Goalie nods: Murray looks for fourth straight win as Pens visit Brooklyn

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Earlier this week, Pens GM Jim Rutherford admitted his club’s two-goalie system wasn’t working, especially for Marc-Andre Fleury.

But for Matt Murray, things appear to be fine.

Murray is an impressive 7-1-0 since returning from a hand injury suffered at the World Cup, with a 1.75 GAA and .939 save percentage. He’s won each of his last three starts, and will look for a fourth victory tonight when the Pens take on the Isles at Barclays (NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET).

Over his win streak, Murray has stopped 63 of 69 shots for a .913 save percentage. Not great numbers, but better than Fleury’s — after allowing six goals to Minnesota on Friday, his save percentage for the month fell to .889.

“Despite the fact I like having the two top goalies, it’s difficult when both goalies are used to playing the majority of the games,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Monday. “You get into weeks where they’re splitting and going every other game. That hasn’t worked, at this point, as well as I thought it would.”

For the Isles, Thomas Greiss is in goal. Like Pittsburgh, the Isles also have a crowded crease — but with three goalies (Greiss, Jaroslav Halak and J-F Berube) instead of two. This will be Greiss’ third straight start, having stopped 26 of 27 shots in a win over Calgary on Monday.

Elsewhere…

Chad Johnson returns to the starting role in Calgary, looking to build on a month of November in which he’s gone 6-3-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .930 save percentage. He’ll be up against Frederik Andersen, who beat the Oilers last night.

Martin Jones is in net for San Jose after stopping 19 shots in an OT win over Arizona on Monday. Peter Budaj, currently riding a five-game winning streak, is in for the Kings.