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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Another injury in Detroit — key penalty killer Marchenko out ‘a couple weeks’

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Darren Helm is out with a dislocated shoulder. Andreas Athanasiou is dealing with a knee injury.

And now, Alexey Marchenko is on the shelf.

The 24-year-old blueliner will be out “weeks” with an upper-body ailment suffered in Sunday’s loss to Calgary, head coach Jeff Blashill told the Detroit News.

Marchenko’s loss will undoubtedly be felt. Tho he only averages around 18 minutes a night, he’s a key part of the penalty kill, where his 2:21 shorthanded TOI ranks second on the team. He’s also second on the club with 28 blocked shots.

The PK was already problematic prior to losing Marchenko, sitting 25th in the NHL (78.6 percent).

As mentioned above, health has been a major issue in the Motor City this year. Thomas Vanek and Niklas Kronwall have already missed extensive time, and Tomas Jurco hasn’t played at all while recovering from back surgery.

 

Report: No hearings from last night’s wild Bolts-Preds game

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Tampa Bay and Nashville have escaped supplemental discipline for their actions in last night’s wild game at Bridgestone, per the Times.

Midway through the third period of Nashville’s eventual 3-1 win, things started to get feisty.

A quick rundown of the incidents:

Viktor Arvidsson crosschecked Vladislav Namestnikov into the boards.

J.T. Brown nailed Roman Josi with a big hit.

Jason Garrison caught Arvidsson in the head with his stick.

Ryan Ellis threw a big hit at Brown.

The end result? A third period in which the two sides combined for 35 PIM — noteworthy, given they’d combined for just eight over the first two frames — a five-minute interference major (and game misconduct) for Ellis, and a 10-minute misconduct for Brown.

Bolts forward Brian Boyle called Ellis’ hit “extremely dirty,” per the Times.

Arvidsson received a cross-checking minor for his hit on Namestnikov, while Garrison went unpenalized for the high stick.

The two teams meet again next on Jan. 5, in Tampa Bay. So you might want to circle that one on your calendar. (Do people still do that? I’m old.)

After 19-game absence, Bjugstad ready for season debut

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Florida will get a big piece of its lineup back when it hosts Philadelphia this evening.

Nick Bjugstad, who’s missed the last 19 games with a broken hand, is set to make his debut tonight and play his first meaningful action since last year’s playoff loss to the Isles.

Bjugstad, 24, was a big part of Florida’s success last season. He had 15 goals and 34 points in 67 games — averaging more than 15 minutes per night — and was one of the team’s top faceoff men.

At 6-foot-6 and 218 pounds, he’s a physical presence and looks like he’ll draw an interesting assignment tonight, centering the third line between impressive rookie Denis Malgin and winter Colton Sceviour. Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck will serve as the club’s top two centers.

For Florida, getting healthy is vital. The club is still without Jonathan Huberdeau — sidelined for 3-4 months with a lacerated Achilles — and, yesterday, lost the services of defenseman Alex Petrovic, who’s out two months with a broken ankle.

Lack suffers concussion at practice, ‘Canes recall Leighton

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Fairly hectic sequence of events for Carolina ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Leafs.

Netminder Eddie Lack, who has barely played over the last two weeks, suffered a concussion at Monday’s practice and was immediately placed on IR, the club announced.

In a corresponding move, the ‘Canes recalled veteran journeyman Michael Leighton from AHL Charlotte.

Acquired from Vancouver at the 2015 draft and signed to a two-year extension months later, Lack has struggled to find consistency in Carolina. It’s unlikely this recent development will help any. As mentioned, he’s all but ceded the net to Cam Ward — the NHL’s reigning second star of the week — and has played just twice in November.

One was a 4-1 loss to New Jersey, in which he allowed three goals on 20 shots. The other was a 28-second appearance against Anaheim on Nov. 10.

There’s been no word on a possible timetable for Lack’s return. As mentioned, Carolina plays tomorrow night in the first of an extremely road-heavy stretch — the Toronto game is one of nine roadies the club will play from now until Dec. 10.

Additional stops are in Montreal, Ottawa, MSG, Boston, MSG again, then a three-game West Coast trip to Anaheim, L.A. and San Jose.

 

Goalie nods: Kuemper, Kinkaid make rare starts

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It’s an usually busy Monday night in the NHL, with a couple of unusual starting assignments.

Let’s begin in Dallas, where the visiting Minnesota Wild will give Darcy Kuemper the nod for just the fourth time this season. Kuemper has spent most of the year watching Devan Dubnyk, and with good reason — Dubnyk has been one of the NHL’s best, posting a .948 save percentage and 1.59 GAA, with four shutouts.

Kuemper, though, has won two of his three starts, including a 35-save effort against Ottawa two weeks ago.

To be perfectly honest, it may not matter who the Wild start in goal. The team is mired in an offensive slump, which prompted head coach Bruce Boudreau to note that “we can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals.”

Kuemper looks as though he’ll take on Antti Niemi, as he was the first goalie off at Dallas’ morning skate.

In San Jose, there’s another rare nod on the horizon as Keith Kinkaid will give Cory Schneider the evening off. Kinkaid, like Kuemper, hasn’t played much at all — this will also be just his fourth start of the season — but the New Jersey backup has fared very well in his limited body of work.

Kinkaid is 2-0-1 on the year with a .944 save percentage and 1.66 GAA, and will do battle against a Sharks team that’s struggling to score goals right now.

For the Sharks, Martin Jones is in goal.

Elsewhere…

Brian Elliott returns to the Flames’ goal, after Chad Johnson started four in a row (winning three of ’em). He’ll be up against Robin Lehner, who has lost his last five.

— It’s expected that Antti Raanta will give Henrik Lundqvist a break, and get the start in Pittsburgh. The Penguins look like they’ll go with Marc-Andre Fleury, the first goalie off at the morning skate.

— Colorado will start Semyon Varlamov, after Calvin Pickard played in Thursday’s loss to Dallas. No word yet on a Columbus starter, but head coach John Tortorella has used Sergei Bobrovsky almost exclusively this season.

— Good (and tall) matchup in Nashville: 6-foot-8 Ben Bishop and the Bolts take on 6-foot-6 Pekka Rinna and the Preds.

— After Scott Darling played great in a comeback win over Vancouver on Saturday, Corey Crawford returns to start for the ‘Hawks. He’ll be up against Cam Talbot, who goes for the host Oilers.