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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Leddy (upper body) is hurt, which explains Pulock recall

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Yesterday, we passed along word that New York recalled d-man Ryan Pulock from AHL Bridgeport on an emergency basis.

And now we know why.

On Thursday, the Isles announced that defenseman Nick Leddy is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

It’s unclear when Leddy got hurt, or what he hurt (he didn’t practice today, and head coach Jack Capuano said the club should know more tomorrow.) Leddy had been loaded up with minutes through the first four games of the year — including a whopping 26:19 in Sunday’s OT win over the Ducks — and played nearly 24 minutes in the club’s last game, Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to San Jose.

The Isles are back in action Friday, when they host the visiting Arizona Coyotes. They’re in a bit of a tough spot, given their 1-3-0 record and the fact one of their most active defensemen is ailing, but Pulock should be a more than capable replacement.

The 22-year-old, taken 15th overall at the 2013 draft, appeared in 15 games for the Isles last season and has been a good offensive defenseman at the American League level, scoring 24 points in 51 games in ’15-16.

With Bergeron back, B’s send Czarnik to AHL

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Boston is thrilled to have Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup against New Jersey tonight, his first game of the season after missing three with a lower-body injury.

But to make room for Bergeron, the club had to bid farewell to Austin Czarnik.

Czarnik, who made his NHL debut in a season-opening win over Columbus, has been sent back to AHL Providence, the B’s announced on Thursday.

The 23-year-old Czarnik did an admirable job of filling the gap while Bergeron was out. He appeared in two of Boston’s three games, and played over 15 minutes against the Blue Jackets — impressive, given his pro career consists of just 71 games at the AHL level.

Undrafted out of Miami (Ohio) University, Czarnik was part of the kiddie corps that helped Boston survive the losses of Bergeron, Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller to start the year.

McQuaid and Miller are still sidelined, which will give young d-men Rob O’Gara and Brandon Carlo a longer look at the NHL level.

Given how much head coach Claude Julien has been forced to rely on young, untested players, Boston’s start has to be viewed as a positive. The club went 2-1-0 on a three-game road swing through Columbus, Toronto and Winnipeg, outscoring opponents 11-8.

Boston will now play three straight at TD Garden, against the Devils, Habs and Wild.

Red Wings take notice of Mantha’s ‘dominant’ AHL start

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Could Anthony Mantha soon be coming to an NHL arena near you?

Mantha, Detroit’s first round pick (20th overall) at the 2013 draft, narrowly missed making the team after an impressive training camp, and has carried that form over to AHL Grand Rapids, where he’s scored five times in his first three games.

The Red Wings are well aware of his exploits.

“When I see five goals in three games, when I hear he’s playing the right way, hear he’s doing the right things now and he’s starting to get dominant — you want to see them dominate the level below to make sure he’s ready to do the same thing at the level above,” head coach Jeff Blashill said, per the Detroit News. “It’s impossible to expect a player to be big time offensively when he wasn’t down there.”

“He’s taking great steps.”

Mantha — who is still only 22, which some forget given how often his name has been in the news — was the Red Wings’ last cut in the preseason. He appeared in 10 NHL games last year, earned after potting 21 goals in 60 games with the Griffins.

This year, though, speedster Andreas Athanasiou made the team ahead of Mantha, despite the fact that Detroit’s three most promising prospects — Mantha, Athanasiou and Dylan Larkin — skated together on a line at times during the exhibition campaign, a trio some fans were clamoring for at the NHL level.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

But Mantha’s play in Grand Rapids could revive the line soon.

Yakupov returns to Edmonton, playing noteworthy role with Blues

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Nail Yakupov returns to Edmonton tonight, for the first time since the Oct. 7 trade that sent him to St. Louis.

To nobody’s surprise, Yakupov wants to make a statement to the team that dealt him away.

“I’d like to get two points here in this building for sure,” Yakupov told reporters, per Global News. “Can’t wait.”

The first overall pick in 2012, Yakupov struggled through four erratic campaigns in Edmonton before getting a much-needed change of scenery. Though things started well — as a rookie, he scored 17 goals and 31 points during the 48-game lockout campaign — but eventually got to the point where the speedy Russian was playing a complimentary role, at best, in Edmonton’s forward group.

There were healthy scratches, injuries and a constant upheaval in terms of coaching and hockey operations.

The Oilers had four different head coaches and three different GMs during the Yakupov era.

In St. Louis, things are different. Much different.

For one, the club has been under Ken Hitchcock’s tutelage for the last six years. A veteran tactician with a keen eye for systems play, Hitchcock’s had the Blues playing their particular brand of hockey for a while now, featuring the tenets of his preferred style of play — low-event, tight-checking, defensive organization.

It’s something Yakupov noticed immediately upon arriving.

“You can tell really [we’re] disciplined the way we play, the way we practice. A few guys have been in the league for many years,” he said, per iNews880. “Everyone knows what to do on the ice.  You really want to be part of it.”

Yakupov, who only turned 23 earlier this month, has been making the most of his opportunity in St. Louis. He had a goal and an assist through his first four games while playing limited minutes, and apparently showed enough to warrant a bigger role tonight.

With various injuries up front, Hitchcock looks ready to slot Yakupov onto line with center Paul Stastny, and talented young winger Robby Fabbri.

Blues put Lehtera (upper body) on IR

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The injury Jori Lehtera suffered against the Rangers on Saturday will keep him out for the foreseeable future.

On Wednesday — one day after Lehtera missed St. Louis’ 2-1 OT loss in Vancouver — the Blues announced the 28-year-old was headed to injured reserve with an upper-body ailment.

A regular lineup presence over the last two years, Lehtera scored 44 points in 75 games two years ago, and 34 in 79 games last season (as well as nine in 20 playoff appearances).

His absence will hurt.

When healthy, Lehtera is a top-six forward and a frequent running mate of the team’s top sniper, Vladimir Tarasenko. He’s also one of the club’s top faceoff men and can contribute on special teams.

Much like previous seasons, the Blues are dealing with a rash of injuries at the moment. Lehtera was out of the lineup against the Canucks along with Kyle Brodziak, Carl Gunnarsson and Jaden Schwartz, all currently dealing with injuries.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Schwartz is anticipated to return next game — St. Louis plays in Edmonton on Thursday — and the ailments suffered by Brodziak and Gunnarsson aren’t believed to be serious.

Still, it’s of little relief to head coach Ken Hitchcock, who was asked what he thought of his team through four games.

“I can’t tell,” he said. “We don’t have it yet.”