Mike Halford

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 01: Mike Condon #39 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates after defeating the Boston Bruins during the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Canadiens defeated the Bruins 5-1. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Goalie nods: Condon makes first start after Winter Classic win

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Montreal opted not to give Mike Condon its first game back after the Winter Classic — that went to Ben Scrivens, who lost 4-3 to Philly last night — but rather have Condon take the second of a back-to-back, tonight at home against the Devils.

Condon really struggled in the month of December, going 2-8-0 with a .888 save percentage. While that was going on, Habs GM Marc Bergevin traded to get Scrivens out of Edmonton, to (presumably) challenge Condon for minutes.

But if the Winter Classic was any indication, Condon was up for the battle.

He stopped 27 of 28 shots against the Bruins, finishing with a .964 save percentage and as the game’s second star.

Tonight, he’ll look to remain undefeated in January against the Devils’ Cory Schneider, who was named to the All-Star Game on Wednesday.

Elsewhere…

— Good matchup in Colorado, where Jake Allen will go for the Blues against Semyon Varlamov, who continues to carry the load for the Avs.

John Gibson — who, like Schneider, was named an All-Star today — is back in for Anaheim when the Ducks host the Leafs. Toronto will start Jonathan Bernier.

— Brough wrote about it earlier (read here), but Eddie Lack makes his return to Vancouver tonight, and gets the start for the ‘Canes. Jacob Markstrom is likely in for the ‘Nucks.

— Chicago and Pittsburgh played each other last night, so we don’t know who’ll be starting in tonight’s rematch.

Report: Trade talks between Jackets, Preds ‘intensified’

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Could we be on the precipice of this season’s first major trade?

Per the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline, rumblings suggest that trade talks have “intensified” between the Blue Jackets and Predators.

While the particulars haven’t been revealed, it’s not surprising these two teams are linked. Columbus has something Nashville needs — a talented, big-bodied, top-flight center in Ryan Johansen (who was welcomed to the trade rumor mill back in November) — while Nashville has something Columbus needs:

Defensemen.

A whole bunch of them, too.

But let’s begin with Johansen.

His tumultuous campaign in Columbus has been well documented, from John Tortorella saying he was out of shape to his highly-publicized healthy scratch in mid-December.

It was the latest in what’s been a steadily contentious relationship between the Jackets and camp Johansen. From his healthy scratch at the AHL level back in 2013, to last year’s ugly contract situation, there have been plenty of tough times in his five years with CBJ.

As for the Nashville side of things…

The Preds are about as well-positioned to move a d-man as any team in the league. Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm comprise arguably the NHL’s best defense, and the organization still has prospects like Jack Dougherty and Jonathan-Ismael Diaby in the pipeline.

Columbus’ blueline woes are obvious, and there’s no denying adding one of Nashville’s guys would be a major boon.

Back in November, Brough asked Preds GM David Poile if he’d be willing to move a d-man to acquire some help up front, especially at center, where Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher are the club’s two top options.

Poile initially offered the stock reply — “we are very happy with our defense corps,” he explained — before acknowledging he would consider such a move.

“You’re always trying to improve your team. That’s what a manager’s job is,” said Poile.

So, will Poile and Kekalainen pull the trigger on a big move?

Do remember that both have a flair for the dramatic. Poile’s been a major mover at past trade deadlines, and Kekalainen pulled one of this offseason’s biggest blockbusters by getting Brandon Saad out of Chicago.

Torres: If I can’t get over knee issues, ‘it’s obviously time to think about some other things’

Raffi Torres
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Raffi Torres is just eight days away from being eligible to return from his 41-game suspension.

But earlier this week, he admitted that — sometimes — his return feels a lot farther away.

“Personally, I expect to go out there and I want to be pain-free and play. But, the reality is there are some hurdles,” Torres told CSN Bay Area. “If I can get over them and get over the hump, I still feel like I can be effective in this league.

“But, if I don’t, then it’s obviously time to think about some other things.”

This isn’t the first time brakes have been tapped on Torres’ return. Back in early December, Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer admitted the veteran forward was still dealing with his problematic right knee — specifically, the surgically repaired ACL that’s undergone a variety of procedures over the last two years, costing him all of the ’14-15 campaign.

Later than month, Torres admitted he probably wouldn’t be healthy by the time his suspension is lifted on Jan. 14.

This is, however, the first time Torres has talked around a potential retirement (at least publicly, anyway).

It’s easy to see why the 34-year-old is contemplating it, though. His last game of significance came in April of 2014, meaning he’s been out of action for over 20 months.

Still, there’s a part of Torres that really doesn’t want to call it quits.

Part of it stems from how much the Sharks have invested in him — “I owe it to the organization who stuck with me,” he explained — and there’s probably part of him that wants to go out on his own terms, not on the heels of a massive suspension for hitting Jakob Silfverberg in the head during a preseason game.

At the same time, Torres is aware how big this challenge is.

“I’m not a spring chicken anymore,” he said. “I know where I’m at in my career.”

Here are your 2016 NHL All-Star Game rosters

John Scott, Brandon Davidson
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Atlantic Division: Patrice Bergeron (Boston), Jaromir Jagr (Florida), Leo Komarov (Toronto), Dylan Larkin (Detroit), Ryan O'Reilly (Buffalo), Steve Stamkos (Tampa Bay), Aaron Ekblad (Florida), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa), P.K. Subban (Montreal), Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay), Roberto Luongo (Florida).

Metropolitan Division: Nicklas Backstrom (Washington), Claude Giroux (Philly), Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh), Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Brandon Saad (Columbus), John Tavares (New York Islanders), Justin Faulk (Carolina), Kris Letang (Pittsburgh), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), Braden Holtby (Washington), Cory Schneider (New Jersey).

Central Division: Jamie Benn (Dallas), Matt Duchene (Colorado), Patrick Kane (Chicago), Tyler Seguin (Dallas), Vladimir Tarasenko (St. Louis), Jonathan Toews (Chicago) Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg), Roman Josi (Nashville), Shea Weber (Nashville), Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota), Pekka Rinne (Nashville)

Pacific Division: Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary), Taylor Hall (Edmonton), Joe Pavelski (San Jose), Corey Perry (Anaheim), John Scott (Arizona), Daniel Sedin (Vancouver), Brent Burns (San Jose), Drew Doughty (Los Angeles), Mark Giordano (Calgary), John Gibson (Anaheim), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles).

Notes

— No Sidney Crosby. I repeat: No Sidney Crosby.

— The four captains voted in were Jagr, Ovechkin, Scott and Kane.

— Coaches are Florida’s Gerard Gallant (Atlantic), Dallas’ Lindy Ruff (Central), Los Angeles’ Darryl Sutter (Pacific) and Washington’s Barry Trotz (Metropolitan).

— The NHL’s seventh-leading scorer, Blake Wheeler (40 points in 40 games) isn’t there.

— Neither is the NHL’s second-leading d-man scorer, John Klingberg.

— Florida, Washington and Nashville will have the most representatives at the game, with three each.

Promising ‘Canes rookie Di Giuseppe (concussion) out indefinitely

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 29: Phil Di Giuseppe #34 of the Carolina Hurricanes skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 29, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Hurricanes 3-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

One of the bright spots in Carolina this year has been the emergence of its rookies, led by the likes of Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Jacob Slavin, Brock McGinn and Phillip Di Giuseppe.

But now, that bright spot’s been dulled a bit.

Di Guiseppe has been diagnosed with a concussion and will be out indefinitely, per the Raleigh News & Observer. Injured Saturday night against the Predators, Di Guiseppe — the 38th overall pick at the ’12 draft — could be out of action for a while, which is a disappointment after he showed some real offensive prowess in his first-ever stint with the ‘Canes.

Recalled from AHL Charlotte early last month, Di Guiseppe made his NHL debut on Dec. 5 and proceeded to score eight points through his first 14 games at the big-league level, averaging over 12 minutes per night.

A former University of Michigan standout, Di Guiseppe had been skating on a line with Victor Rask and Jeff Skinner.