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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Goalie nods: Bolts hope Vasilevskiy can extend winning streak

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After Ben Bishop posted back-to-back wins — with one shutout — over the Ducks and Kings, Andrei Vasilevskiy will look to push Tampa Bay’s win streak to three tonight in Minnesota.

It’s a modest streak, sure, but vitally important for the Bolts.

The team will need to go one a major run over the final two months of the season to qualify for the playoffs, and it stands to reason goaltending will play a major role in that. Neither Bishop nor Vasilevskiy have been consistent this year, but the young Russian has really struggled — heading into tonight, he has just a .909 save percentage and 2.84 GAA.

That said, there are signs he’s rounding into form.

Vasilevskiy only has one win in his last five appearances, but has posted a .924 save percentage, allowing just 10 goals on 132 shots. The hope is that he can continue that form into tonight against a streaking Wild team, who are 5-1-1 in their last seven.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Just one other game tonight, and it’s in Winnipeg. The Jets are going with Connor Hellebuyck as the injured Ondrej Pavelec is out for a week, while the ‘Hawks with go with Corey Crawford.

Burakovsky out at least a month with injured hand

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky is expected to miss at least a month with an injured right hand.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said at practice on Friday that Burakovsy will not need surgery but will be out until mid- to late-March.

The NHL playoffs begin on April 12.

Burakovsky was hurt when he was hit by the puck while blocking a shot in the first period of the NHL-leading Capitals’ 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

He is eighth on Washington with 29 points – 11 goals and 18 assists.

Trotz said Burakovsky would be replaced as the third line’s right wing against visiting Anaheim on Saturday by Zach Sanford, who was called up from Hershey of the AHL this week.

After string of healthy scratches, Stars demote Honka

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Julius Honka, the prized d-man prospect Dallas took 14th overall in 2014, is headed to the minors.

The Stars sent Honka to their AHL affiliate in Texas on Friday, after he sat in the press box as a healthy scratch in each of the last four games.

The 21-year-old made his NHL debut back in November and went on to appear in 10 games for Dallas, scoring four points while averaging 16:35 TOI per night. His last outing came on Jan. 31, in which he played 15:31 and registered an assist in a win over Toronto.

Since then, he’s been a spectator (and the Stars have lost all four games, for whatever that’s worth.)

In Thursday’s defeat in Ottawa, head coach Lindy Ruff went with a defensive unit comprised of Jordie Benn, Dan Hamhuis, Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Patrik Nemeth and Esa Lindell.

Constantly changing parts on the blueline has been a major theme in Dallas this year, as the guys that didn’t play last night — Honka, Jamie Oleksiak, Johnny Oduya — have all been in and out of the lineup, either because of injury of ineffective play.

Sens begin preliminary extension talks with Condon

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Mike Condon has all but saved Ottawa’s season, so there’s little surprise to learn the two sides have started discussing a new deal.

From the Ottawa Sun:

[Condon] told Postmedia before he returned to the club’s net Thursday night against the Dallas Stars that despite being an unrestricted free agent on July 1 he’d be happy to stay with Ottawa.

Though the Senators have had very preliminary contract discussions with his Buffalo-based agent Michael Wulkan, Condon isn’t going to spend any time worrying about what the future might hold.

The duo had dinner when the Senators were in Buffalo last Friday and Condon made it clear he doesn’t want a play-by-play of discussions. He trusts if there are serious talks between Wulkan and Ottawa GM Pierre Dorion that Condon will get involved when there’s something he needs to accept or reject if the opportunity presents itself.

As mentioned above, Condon has been a real find. After losing the services of No. 1 Craig Anderson — he hasn’t played since Dec. 5, taking a leave to be with his wife while she undergoes cancer treatment — the Sens proceeded to give Condon a lion’s share of the No. 1 duties.

He’s responded by going 16-9-5 with a .912 save percentage and 2.56 GAA. The numbers don’t exactly jump off the page, but they’re fairly impressive given the circumstances (and in light of the fatigue factor, as Condon at one point appeared in 27 straight games.)

Looking ahead, the Sens have Anderson and Andrew Hammond under contract through 2018, at $4.2 million and $1.35 million respectively. But Hammond has clearly fallen out of favor. The club put him on waivers back in November and, as evident by Condon’s workload, they don’t have a ton of faith in the Hamburglar.

Hammond is 0-2-0 this season, with a 4.08 GAA and .837 save percentage. On Tuesday, in one of his rare starts, he allowed six goals on 30 shots in a blowout loss to St. Louis.

Condon’s in the last of a two-year, $1.15 million deal with a $575,000 cap hit. One would assume he’s in line for a raise, but it sounds like he enjoys playing in Ottawa and might opt to stick around, rather than test free agency.

“I love everybody,” he told the Sun. “The management and the coaches are very transparent here. They communicate very well which as a player is very valuable.”

Vegas has talked to Gallant; Capuano next?

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The Golden Knights have said they’re looking for a veteran, NHL-experienced head coach, and could have one hired by the end of this season.

So no surprise to learn the club recently reached out to candidates possessing said qualities.

Per the Review-Journal, Vegas has already spoken with former Florida bench boss Gerard Gallant, adding it “had talked with or were preparing to talk with [former Isles head coach Jack] Capuano.”

Newsday initially reported that Capuano was in talks to meet with Vegas brass.

Owner Bill Foley wouldn’t confirm the report, but did acknowledge he’s familiar with Cappy.

“I like him,” Foley said. “I think he’s a real quality family guy. He’s a quality coach who the players like to play for and a quality person.

“Gerard Gallant is the same way.”

Though it’s unclear if the organization has reached out to another recently-unemployed coach — longtime Boston bench boss Claude Julien — GM George McPhee did say Julien’s availability might play into what direction Vegas takes with the search.

“It could certainly change the timing, sure,” McPhee told Sirius XM Radio. “These are real quality people and real quality coaches. So yeah, things could change, of course.”

Ken Hitchcock’s name will also likely be tied to the Vegas job, but no reports have connected the two sides yet.