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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Canada, Russia remain undefeated at Worlds

COLOGNE, Germany (AP) Favorites Russia and Canada remained unbeaten at the ice hockey world championship after convincing wins over co-host Germany and Belarus on Monday.

Vadim Shipachyov and Nikita Kucherov scored twice each as record-title winner Russia defeated Germany 6-3 in Cologne, while Nathan MacKinnon notched two more goals and an assist as Canada shut out Belarus 6-0 in Paris, where goaltender Calvin Pickard was outstanding.

With three victories from three games in Group B so far, two-time champion Canada extended its worlds winning run to 10 games.

Germany captain Christian Ehrhoff was back from injury but Russia, which claimed 22 of its 27 world titles as the Soviet Union, got off to a great start through center Shipachyov after just a minute.

Then the Germans’ hopes took a hit when leading scorer Patrick Hager got a five-minute major and game misconduct for a slew foot on Sergei Mozyakin. Mozyakin didn’t return.

Shipachyov and Sergei Plotnikov scored to leave the hosts 3-0 down at the interval.

Germany’s Yasin Ehliz was penalized for roughing as tempers became frayed in the second period, and again the Russians took advantage for 5-0.

They lead Group A in Cologne, where the United States was facing Sweden late.

Brayden Point scored early for Canada, which had 11 shots compared to Belarus’ four in the first period. MacKinnon scored twice in the second, the first on a power play, taking the center’s tournament tally to five.

Belarus goaltender Mikhail Karnaukhov kept the score down with some outstanding stops but Canada added three more goals.

Finland was to face 2010 champion Czech Republic later in Group B.

Stars re-sign Dowling, ‘a smart player with speed’

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Dallas locked in another depth forward on Monday, agreeing to a two-year, two-way extension with forward Justin Dowling.

“Justin proved his value for our organization both at the NHL and AHL levels this past season,” GM Jim Nill said in a release. “He is a smart player with speed, and the depth that he provides to our forward group is important.”

Dowling, 26, was rewarded for working his way up through the organization. An undrafted free agent, he caught on with the club five years ago and spent time both in ECHL Idaho and AHL Texas before making his NHL debut last season.

He appeared in nine games for Dallas, notching a pair of points.

Recently, Dallas has rewarded grinding, bottom-six forwards that have worked hard for their roles within the organization. In March, the club extended 31-year-old journeyman Adam Cracknell, noting that he “stepped into our lineup this season and established himself as a valuable member of our team.”

Nill had similar praise for 26-year-old Curtis McKenzie, who signed an extension around the same time as Cracknell.

“Curtis has developed into a strong and tenacious player who has continued to define his role as a valuable member of the team,” Nill said. “A true home-grown player, he has worked hard at all levels within the Stars organization and has earned his way onto the NHL roster.”

Report: Preds land coveted Swedish center Ejdsell

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Nice little 24 hours for Nashville.

Having just punched its ticket to the first Western Conference final in franchise history, there was more good news on Monday — per Swedish news outlet Expressen, the Preds have landed Victor Ejdsell.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier last week, per MLive.) Reports suggested Chicago was also in the mix.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Whether or not Ejdsell actually makes the leap next season remains to be seen. Per Expressen, he may join a higher profile team next season — SHL club HV71, the reigning playoff champ — and spend another year playing abroad, then join the Preds later.

In other Nashville news, the club has officially agreed to terms with ’13 draftee Emil Pettersson. Pettersson, 23, signed a two-year deal with Nashville after finishing ninth in the Swedish League in scoring this season.

WATCH LIVE: U.S. versus Sweden, World Hockey Championship

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After a 7-2 shellacking of Denmark yesterday, the Americans will look for their second straight win at the World Hockey Championship this afternoon against Sweden.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE (Puck drop is at 2:15 p.m. ET)

Arizona rookie Clayton Keller starred for the U.S. on Saturday, scoring a hat trick and capturing player of the game honors. Isles forward Anders Lee netted a pair, while Isles teammate Brock Nelson and Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau each had singles.

Sweden figures to be a much bigger test than the Danes, however. It beat up on Germany on Saturday by a similar 7-2 scoreline. William Nylander led the way with two goals, while Gabriel Landeskog, Victor Rask, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jonas Brodin and Linus Omark chipped in with one.

Trotz’s changes must keep working for Caps

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The changes Barry Trotz made to Washington’s forward lines on Saturday paid off.

Will they pay off again?

That’s what Trotz and the Caps are hoping for tonight, as they look to stave off elimination for a second straight game (7:30 pm ET, watch on NBCSN or the NBC Sports app). This time, though, they don’t have the advantage of last change — Game 6 of the second-round series goes at PPG Paints — and will have to deal with a new look from their opponent, as the Pens have made line changes themselves.

So yes, this means captain Alex Ovechkin (based on today’s morning skate) remains a third-liner with Lars Eller and Tom Wilson. And yes, it also means Andre Burakovsky — who had his first goal and multi-point outing of the playoffs on Saturday — will stick on the top unit with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie.

Related: Caps take page out of Penguins playbook with Ovechkin on third line

Trotz’s changes were designed to balance things out, and get some slumping forwards going. He was happy with how it transpired.

“When we met as a coaching staff, what we wanted to do was get more scoring through all of our lines,” he said following Game 5, per the Washington Post. “And that was the intent, and today we did. We’ll see what we do next game, but I felt that all of the lines were going pretty well.”

Burakovsky’s breakout game could be a real turning point.

He was conspicuously silent during last year’s loss to the Penguins, going pointless over the final five games of the series, and appeared to be trending in a similar direction prior to Saturday. He insisted he wasn’t concerned about the lack of production because he was still creating chances, but did say scoring a goal raised his confidence, and relieved some pressure.

There’s still plenty of pressure to go around, of course.

Justin Williams hasn’t found the back of the net this series. Neither has Eller. Neither has Oshie. Neither has Wilson, whose three goals in the opening round against Toronto were hugely important in the Caps moving on.

If Trotz’s plan is to come to fruition, the offense needs to spread to these guys as well.

And soon. Really soon.