Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Malkin out with lower-body injury, will miss All-Star Game

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One of the two Pittsburgh Penguins named to this year’s All-Star Game (Sunday, 3:30 pm ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app) won’t be participating in the festivities.

On Wednesday, Pens head coach Mike Sullivan announced that Evgeni Malkin has suffered a lower-body injury, one that will keep him out of tomorrow’s game in Boston and the league’s annual All-Star gala in Los Angeles.

Malkin and Sidney Crosby were the two Pittsburgh players named to the Metropolitan Division team. No word yet on a potential replacement.

It’s unclear exactly when No. 71 suffered his ailment. He played a healthy 18:27 in last night’s 3-0 loss to St. Louis but, per the Post-Gazette, appeared to be shaken up on a hard hit from Blues d-man Joel Edmundson.

Tied with Crosby for 2nd in NHL scoring (54 points), Malkin’s injury comes at the end of a month in which he’s been on fire. The 30-year-old has six goals and 11 points through nine games, and netted his first hat-trick of the season in a wild 8-7 OT win over Washington on Jan. 16.

Pens waive tough guy Oleksy

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Steve Oleksy, the rugged Pittsburgh blueliner that’s appeared in nine games this season, has been placed on waivers, per ESPN.

Oleksy, 30, has been up with the Pens for a while, but his presence in the lineup’s been sporadic. He’s sat as a healthy scratch on a number of occasions, and hasn’t dressed since getting just over 10 minutes in a loss to Ottawa on Jan. 12.

A veteran of 71 career NHL contests, Oleksy caught on with the Pens organization in ’15-16 following a lengthy stint with the Caps. He’s been a willing combatant throughout his professional career, which included a career-high 14 scraps (three NHL, 11 AHL) during the ’12-13 campaign.

Today’s move could suggest that fellow d-man Kris Letang, out since mid-January with a knee injury, is close to returning. Letang took part in Tuesday’s morning skate, though Pens head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t provide a specific date for Letang’s return.

 

Devils claim Noesen off waivers from Ducks

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Yesterday, in passing along news that Anaheim waived former first-rounder Stefan Noesen, we noted that — because Noesen is only 24 and carrying a light cap hit — there was a decent chance of him getting claimed.

Today, that exact scenario played out.

Noesen has been claimed by the New Jersey Devils, the club announced this afternoon. The move comes after they lost another forward, Reid Boucher, on waivers to Vancouver — just one day after claiming him. The Devils are also currently without winger Beau Bennett, who’s on injured reserve with a lower-body ailment.

Noesen, 23, has appeared in 14 career NHL contests — all coming with Anaheim, and 12 of them this season in what amounted to his first extended look at the NHL level. The 21st overall pick in 2011 scored two goals in those 12 games, but only averaged 6:33 TOI per night.

The biggest reason Noesen’s struggled to establish himself is his health — or, specifically, the lack thereof. He missed almost all of the 2013-14 season with torn ligaments in his left knee, then missed four months during the ’14-15 campaign after an opponent’s skate blade nearly severed his right Achilles tendon.

When healthy, he’s shown to be an effective scorer at the AHL level. He had six goals and 15 points in 22 games for San Diego this season.

As for the financials, Noesen’s on a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level. That appears to be where he’ll stick for now, given the Devils have an open roster spot with Bennett on IR.

Chayka taps brakes on Doan trade talk

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With his one-year deal set to expire in July and the Coyotes nowhere close to the playoffs, captain Shane Doan has become the subject of trade rumblings. Even Doan himself has indulged them — earlier this month, Sportsnet reported the 40-year-old would be willing to waive his no-trade clause, and Doan confirmed as much.

But hold on a minute.

Doan said the only way he’d leave Arizona was if a “perfect” scenario arose, adding “that just doesn’t happen too often in our sport.” And on Wednesday, Coyotes GM John Chayka threw a bit more cold water on the situation — admitting that, while he’s taken calls on Doan, there doesn’t appear to be any imminent move.

“With me it’s been a bit overblown.” Chayka told Arizona Sports 98.7 radio, per FanRag. “Not in the sense a player who is maybe in the last year of his career would have thoughts that if a team is not trending toward the playoffs, which we don’t appear to be, that maybe there’s another opportunity out there for him. So that part’s not overblown. I think Shane has had some thoughts, and that’s natural and organic for his situation.

“But this kind of narrative that comes out that there’s some issues with how he feels he’s being used or not used, or that we had some long, drawn-out, confrontational-type discussions in the summer – I mean, those are the things that are just frustrating because they’re not true.”

The ‘narrative’ at hand is a pretty typical one. Doan’s the aging veteran, near the end of his playing days, and has yet to win a Stanley Cup. He doesn’t have a contract beyond this season. His current team is in the basement, building for the future, and could probably use the assets it would garner in a trade.

There’s also the Chayka angle to all this. He’s been pretty transparent with the Doan situation and the one involving another pending UFA, Martin Hanzal (in early January, Chayka acknowledged a Hanzal trade could go down.) That’s great for fans and media, but the ramifications can be unpleasant — which is sort of what Chayka’s dealing with right now.

All told, the situation will be worth monitoring as the deadline draws near. It certainly seems like Chayka will be a major player.

Goalie nods: Bolts start struggling Vasilevskiy ahead of struggling Bishop

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Since returning from injury, Ben Bishop has allowed 10 goals on 96 shots — an .896 save percentage — and was hooked on Saturday in a 5-3 loss to the lowly Coyotes.

So it’s not a huge surprise that Tampa Bay will start Andrei Vasilevskiy tonight, when it takes on the ‘Hawks in Chicago.

But it’s not like Vasilevskiy’s rolling at the moment.

The young Russian is winless in his last six outings, posting a 3.93 GAA and .877 save percentage. Perhaps head coach Jon Cooper was impressed with Vasilevskiy’s relief appearance over the weekend — he stopped all six shots faced in Arizona — or perhaps Cooper just flipped a coin.

As Brough wrote earlier, it’s crunch time for the Lightning right now. The club’s in desperate need of wins, and it’s estimated the Bolts will have to win around 21 of their final 34 games in order to make the playoffs.

If the goaltending doesn’t improve, it ain’t gonna happen.

For Chicago, Corey Crawford gets the start.

Elsewhere…

— The Red Wings will continue to ride Jared Coreau, who is 5-1-2 since his recall from AHL Grand Rapids. Coreau will face Tuukka Rask, who starts for Boston after leaving Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh with a migraine.

— After Jeff Zatkoff failed to impress in his start last night, Peter Budaj returns to the Kings’ net. The host Devils will go with Cory Schneider, who returns from a two-game absence (illness).

— Good matchup in Brooklyn. Thomas Greiss, the NHL’s reigning second star of the week, will start for the Isles, who play host to Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets.

— As we wrote about yesterday, Jake Allen‘s mental reset will continue as Carter Hutton gets the start in Pittsburgh. He’ll be up against Matt Murray, who’s coming off a 44-save win over Boston on Sunday.

Braden Holtby gets the night off for the Caps, who wills tart Philipp Grubauer in Ottawa. The Sens will go with their workhorse, Mike Condon, who makes his 27th appearance of the year.

Brian Elliott started last night, so Chad Johnson goes for the slumping Flames in Montreal. He’ll be up against Carey Price, who is slumping himself. Price has lost three in a row, and five of his last six.

— The Preds have a good record with Juuse Saros (5-3-1) this year, so they’ll go with him tonight as they host the Sabres. For Buffalo, Robin Lehner is back in after making 36 saves in a win over Montreal over the weekend.

— No confirmed netminders from either side in tonight’s Sharks-Jets game from Winnipeg.

Devan Dubnyk returns to the net for Minnesota, after Darcy Kuemper gave him Sunday night off. Dubnyk will be up against Kari Lehtonen.