Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Goalie nods: Lundqvist’s redemption tour continues

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Remember when we wrote about how badly Henrik Lundqvist was struggling, and how Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said “no doubt” there was a confidence issue at play?

You should remember. It was only six days ago.

What a difference a week can make. Tonight, Lundqvist will make his fourth consecutive start and aim for his fourth consecutive win when the Rangers host the Flyers at MSG.

Lundqvist has been terrific since a ghastly effort against Dallas on Jan. 17, in which he allowed seven goals on 27 shots. First, he made 23 saves in a win over Toronto last Thursday. Then, 21 saves in a shutout against Detroit on Sunday. The following night, he had one of his best efforts of the season, making 36 saves to topple the Kings.

All told, Lundqvist has stopped 80 of his last 84 shots faced, good for a .952 save percentage.

The performance was vital, but also pretty clutch. The Rangers had to go with Lundqvist over the last few games, as stellar backup Antti Raanta is shelved with an injury until after the All-Star break. Vigneault could’ve tried to go with third-stringer Magnus Hellberg, but that would be asking a lot considering Hellberg has just 51 career minutes of NHL experience.

As for the Flyers, they’ll go with Steve Mason in goal this evening.


Frederik Andersen, fresh off a 26-save shutout of Calgary on Monday, will get yet another start for the Leafs. Detroit’s Jared Coreau was in for last night’s 4-3 OT loss for the Bruins, so it’s likely Petr Mrazek will go tonight.

Ryan Miller has played the last three games, so he gets a break as the Canucks wills tart Jacob Markstrom in Colorado. The Avs will counter with Calvin Pickard, after AHL recall Spencer Martin stared the last two games, both against San Jose.

Cam Talbot, the NHL leader in starts, will get another one as the Oilers take on the Ducks in Anaheim. No word yet on who goes for the home team, as the Ducks didn’t skate this morning. John Gibson, knocked out of his last start with an upper-body injury, is a game-time decision.

Marchand to have hearing for ‘dangerous trip’ on Kronwall (Video)


Brad Marchand will be back in a familiar spot tomorrow — in front of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Marchand will have a hearing for his dangerous trip on Wings blueliner Niklas Kronwall during Boston’s 4-3 OT win on Tuesday, the DoPS has announced.

As the above video shows, Marchand appears to kick Kronwall’s right leg out from under him while play was whistled for an offside.

That the 28-year-old is back in hot water shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. While he has become a quality sniper and talented offensive producer, Marchand has never really curtailed the recklessness that’s earned him a myriad of punishments over the last six years:

— March 2011: Suspended two games for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head.

— December 2011: Fined for slew-footing Matt Niskanen.

— January 2012: Suspended five games for clipping Sami Salo.

— January 2015: Suspended two games for slew-footing Derick Brassard.

— November 2015: Fined for roughing Gabriel Landeskog.

— December 2015: Suspended three games for clipping Mark Borowiecki.

As for the incident with Kronwall, Marchand wasn’t penalized on the play and finished Tuesday’s tilt with a pair of goals in just under 20 minutes of ice time. Kronwall wasn’t injured on the play, and finished with just under 18 minutes TOI.

Oilers in unfamiliar position of being deadline buyers


Like yard sales and cherry blossom festivals, Edmonton selling at the deadline is an annual springtime tradition.

But this year, that’s set to change.

The Oilers currently sit third in the Pacific Division, nine points up on fourth-place Calgary. It’s too early to call it a lock, but Edmonton sure seems like it’ll be participating in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Which means, in all likelihood, the Oilers will be buyers at this year’s deadline.

“It’s our job to make it hard on a management team to decide whether it is going to add or subtract,” head coach Todd McLellan said this week, per the Journal. “In the past it’s been fairly easy, he’s been able to look at the standings and understand where we’re going to end up.”

“He” in this instance is Peter Chiarelli, who’s only in his second year as Edmonton GM yet has already experienced selling at the deadline. Last year, with his club en route to the worst record in the Western Conference, he shipped several assets — Justin Schultz, Teddy Purcell and Anders Nilsson — out of town, in exchange for a handful of picks.

That followed in a long tradition of Oilers GMs (Craig MacTavish, Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe) that did the same during the club’s current 11-year playoff drought.

So let’s assume the Oilers break with tradition this year, and are in a position to add. If Chiarelli’s going to be a buyer, what’s he going to buy?

Answer: Probably a blueliner.

Back in late December, McLellan addressed his club’s need for more on the back end.

“It’s Christmas and we all have wish lists,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We’re coaches and we’re never happy but when you talk of those type of players … say a power play quarterback, somebody who puts up points, we don’t have that.”

History suggests Chiarelli will be more than happy to oblige. In Boston, he made it a near-annual tradition of stocking up on defensemen at the deadline: Andrej Meszaros in ’14, Wade Redden in ’13, Greg Zanon/Mike Mottau in ’12 and Tomas Kaberle in ’11.

Will be interesting to see if that trend continues in Edmonton this year.

Skidding Panthers welcome back Bjugstad, Petrovic


For most of this year, Florida’s injury situation has been rough — but on Wednesday, things took a turn for the better.

D-man Alex Petrovic, out since Nov. 15 with a broken ankle, is expected to return to the lineup when the Panthers host Tampa Bay tomorrow. Also expected back is center Nick Bjugstad, who’s missed the last nine games with a groin issue.

Petrovic, 24, scored one goal and five points in 16 games this year, averaging just under 18 minutes per night. He broke his ankle blocking a shot against Montreal over two months ago, underwent surgery, and has subsequently missed the last 34 contests.

Bjugstad, also 24, has had an injury-plagued campaign. He missed the first 19 games with a broken hand — which pushed his season debut to late November — and appeared in 21 games before injuring his groin.

Unsurprisingly, he’s had a tough time finding his groove this season. Bjugstad has just one goal and two points, well off the good offensive numbers he posted in each of the last two years. He scored a team-high 24 goals in ’14-15, and 15 more last season.

With these two back in the lineup, the Panthers are the healthiest they’ve been in a while. And that’s key, because the club has lost four straight and five of its last six. But thanks to OT losses in Edmonton and Arizona, they’re still in the thick of the playoff chase.

Florida is also still waiting for medical clearance for two of their most prized forwards — Aleksander Barkov, who hasn’t played since Dec. 28 while dealing with an upper-body issue, and Jonathan Huberdeau, who hasn’t played at all after suffering a lacerated Achilles in the preseason.

Malkin out with lower-body injury, will miss All-Star Game


One of the two Pittsburgh Penguins named to this year’s All-Star Game (Sunday, 3:30 pm ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app) won’t be participating in the festivities.

On Wednesday, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Evgeni Malkin has suffered a lower-body injury, one that will keep him out of tomorrow’s game in Boston and the league’s annual All-Star gala in Los Angeles.

Malkin and Sidney Crosby were the two Pittsburgh players named to the Metropolitan Division team. No word yet on a potential replacement.

It’s unclear exactly when No. 71 suffered his ailment. He played a healthy 18:27 in last night’s 3-0 loss to St. Louis but, per the Post-Gazette, appeared to be shaken up on a hard hit from Blues d-man Joel Edmundson.

Tied with Crosby for 2nd in NHL scoring (54 points), Malkin’s injury comes at the end of a month in which he’s been on fire. The 30-year-old has six goals and 11 points through nine games, and netted his first hat-trick of the season in a wild 8-7 OT win over Washington on Jan. 16.