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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Life moves fast: Fayne back with Oilers after being waived, demoted

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Mark Fayne’s wild week continues.

Fayne — he of the $14.5 million contract — was recalled by the Oilers on Wednesday, just one day after clearing waivers and being demoted to AHL Bakersfield.

An injury to d-man Eric Gryba opened the door for Fayne’s return. Gryba has been placed on IR, though the Oilers didn’t announce what the ailment is.

The last few days were a microcosm of Fayne’s tenure in Edmonton — tumultuous, and dotted with transactions.

In July of 2014, the Oilers signed him to the aforementioned $14.5 million deal, with then-GM Craig MacTavish calling him “a very good defender” that made plays “highly effectively.”

Roughly 17 months after inking that contract, Fayne fell out of favor with new head coach Todd McLellan, and saw his role drastically reduced. The former Devils rearguard averaged just 16:43 TOI last season, got waived in December, and appeared in 69 contests (and four for the Condors, his first AHL stint since the ’10-11 campaign).

Then, on Monday, Fayne was waived for the second time in as many seasons.

Bednar rips Avs’ lack of intensity, a familiar refrain this season

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There have been a few familiar postgame statements from the Avalanche this season, and they were trotted out once again following Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Preds.

“The lack of focus or a lack of intensity, we’re giving other teams easy goals,” head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Denver Post. “I didn’t feel like they had to work for their goals.

“Too many guys wading into the game, seeing how the game goes. We need more passion. We need more intensity for 60 minutes. It’s that simple for me.”

These remarks are not much different from what was said following a 5-1 loss to those same Preds back in early November. Bednar said the Avs “didn’t find the intensity needed for the game,” while captain Gabriel Landeskog said “the work boots and hard hats weren’t on.”

One week later — after another 5-1 loss, this time to the Blues — veteran d-man Francois Beauchemin said “we’ve got to look at each other and ourselves in the mirror,” adding that all the players needed to “step up their game.”

Tuesday’s loss moved the Avs to 9-11-1 on the year, and seventh in the Central Division. So it’s easy to see why Bednar is upset — the Post said his presser following the Nashville game was his most animated of the year — and it’s easy to see why players are upset, too.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a change from the Patrick Roy era, at least in terms of consistent effort. It was one of Roy’s big complaints about the club prior to his abrupt departure in August — that the group’s core players didn’t have the type of character and leadership qualities to take the team where Roy wanted it to go.

The question now is, what can GM Joe Sakic do about it? He’s been loathe to shake up his roster (another reported reason why Roy eventually stepped down) and could always fall back on the “it’s still early” mantra.

But if things don’t get turned around soon in Colorado, Sakic and the crew will be firmly planted outside the playoff picture — like they have been for the last two seasons.

Goalie nods: Bishop sits as Vasilevskiy goes for fifth straight win

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We’re not ready to call it a goalie controversy just yet, but we’re monitoring — tonight, Andrei Vasilevskiy will start for the Bolts in Columbus, having won his last four starts.

Backing him up? No. 1 netminder Ben Bishop, who has lost his last three starts.

To be accurate, though, Bishop’s struggles aren’t isolated to just the last week or so — he’s had problems throughout the year. Bishop finished October with an .880 save percentage and though he rebounded nicely to start November — in his first three games, he stopped 92 of 96 shots for a .958 save percentage — things quickly came crashing back to earth. He’s now allowed three goals or more in five of his last six appearances.

All told, Bishop is 7-8-0 on the year, with a 3.04 GAA and .902 save percentage.

Vasilevskiy, meanwhile, has been flat-out dominant. He’s posted a.977 save percentage during his four-game win streak and, on the year, is 6-1-1 with a 1.50 GAA, and two shutouts.

Tampa Bay’s first-round pick in 2012 (19th overall), Vasilevskiy has long been known as the club’s goalie of the future. But with Bishop struggling and his contract up at the end of the year, could the big Russian be the club’s goalie of the present?

For Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

Cam Ward will look to continue his run of fine play when the ‘Canes take on the Rangers at MSG. Henrik Lundqvist starts for New York, after stopping 40 of 42 shots in a Thanksgiving Showdown win over Philly on Friday.

— It’s Tuukka Rask versus Steve Mason as the B’s take on the Flyers at Wells Fargo.

Robin Lehner faces his old squad as the Sabres visit Ottawa. He’ll be up against former goaltending mate Craig Anderson, who is expected to leave the team following tonight’s game to be with his wife.

Petr Mrazek is back in net for the Wings, after playing reasonably well (two goals on 24 shots) in an OT loss to Montreal over the weekend. No word yet on a Dallas starter, but Antti Niemi played in last night’s OT loss to the Blues.

Cory Schneider, who has lost three of his last four starts, goes for the Devils. He’ll be up against Connor Hellebuyck, fresh off a terrific 42-save shutout against the Preds on Sunday.

— Good matchup in Chicago, as Roberto Luongo and the Panthers take on Corey Crawford and the ‘Hawks.

— The Avs continue to roll with Calvin Pickard as Semyon Varlamov recovers from injury. No word yet on a Nashville starter.

Frederik Andersen is expected to get the start for Toronto in the latest installment of McDavid vs. Matthews. Cam Talbot, who despite losing the last two games has played very well, is back in for the Oilers.

Devan Dubnyk gets the night off in Vancouver, as the Wild will start Darcy Kuemper. No word yet on a Canucks starter.

— No surprises for Montreal, as the Habs will go with Carey Price in Anaheim. The Ducks will counter with John Gibson.

Mike Smith, coming off a 41-save victory over Edmonton on Sunday, starts for the Coyotes. Martin Jones goes for San Jose, as per usual.

Beau Bennett is hurt again

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And things were going so well, too.

On Tuesday, the New Jersey Devils announced that oft-injured forward Beau Bennett suffered a right leg laceration at the end of Monday’s practice, and didn’t travel to Winnipeg with the team. Ergo, he will miss this evening’s tilt against the Jets.

For a guy that only played in 129 of a possible 294 games over the first four years of his career — all spent in Pittsburgh — another injury shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. Bennett has dealt with a broken wrist, shoulder problems, mumps and a variety of lower-body ailments, and managed to poke fun at himself after joining the Devils this offseason:

But maybe this latest health setback should come as a bit of a surprise. Because this year, Bennett has actually been healthy!

He’s been a nice pickup for the Devils, appearing in 20 of 21 games while chipping in with seven points. He’s also averaging a shade under 14 minutes per night.

Thankfully for both Bennett and the Devils, he’s not expected to be out long. The team said he remained in New Jersey to work out on his own, and is considered day-to-day.

 

Travis Moen calls it a career

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Travis Moen, the grinding winger that won a Stanley Cup in 2007 and appeared in nearly 800 NHL contests, has announced his retirement from professional hockey.

“First off I would like to thank my former teammates for all their support on and off the ice. I have made many great friendships and incredible memories,” Moen said in a statement, through the NHLPA. “I want to thank all the coaching staffs for believing in me and helping me to achieve my dream. I also want to tell all the training staffs how much I appreciate each of them and thank them all for keeping me healthy. My family and I feel truly honored to have lived and played for some amazing organizations. I want to thank the staffs and fans of the Chicago, Anaheim, San Jose, Montreal and Dallas organizations.

“With all the great memories, one of the best will be winning the Stanley Cup in Anaheim with the Ducks. It is the highlight of my career and nothing beats that feeling of accomplishing your childhood dream! Lastly I would like to thank my family for all their love, support and sacrifice through my entire career. I will truly miss everything about the game of hockey.”

As mentioned, Moen played for the Ducks, Stars, Habs, Blackhawks and Sharks over the course of his 12-year career. He spent the longest time in Montreal — appearing in over 300 games over a six-year span — but his best individual season came during the Cup-winning ’06-07 campaign, when he posted 11 goals and 21 points in 82 games for Anaheim.

Currently, Moen now serves as a volunteer hockey coach in the Swift Current Minor Hockey Association.