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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Ducks waive Wagner — again

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Just when Chris Wagner started to feel comfortable — he was assigned his preferred No. 21 to start the year, and appeared in 15 of Anaheim’s 16 games — it happened.

Again.

“It,” of course, is being subjected to waivers, and on Monday the Ducks did exactly that with the 25-year-old forward, putting Wagner on the wire for the second time in 12 months (per TVA).

The club’s fifth-round pick in 2010, Wagner had two goals this season while averaging 10:43 TOI per night.

The writing may have been on the wall, though, when he was scratched from Anaheim’s ugly 5-0 loss to Nashville on Saturday.

More on Wagner’s back story, from the O.C. Register:

It took four years for Wagner to truly call Anaheim home.

There has been a move from Norfolk, Va., to San Diego and last season’s detour through Denver between the call-ups to Anaheim and the demotions. The 25-year-old grinder landed on the waiver wire twice – and was claimed both times.

“I guess last year leaves a bad taste in your mouth just because of how many times I changed spots,” Wagner said. “Yeah, I’m enjoying it for sure. But I can’t really be complacent, especially the way the league is now.”

As the Register alludes to, Wagner was waived by Anaheim last November and claimed by Colorado. He appeared in 26 games for the Avs before they waived him — and watched the Ducks re-claim the former Colgate standout.

Wagner then finished the year with the Ducks, and appeared in two games during their opening-round playoff loss to Nashville.

Anaheim’s bottom-six forward group has been in a state of flux this season. Wagner, Mason Raymond, Emerson Etem, Ondrej Kase, Nick Sorensen, Michael Sgarbossa and Joseph Cramarossa have all been used to varying degrees, while veteran enforcer Jared Boll has been a pretty consistent staple of the fourth line.

After blowout loss, Caps get wake-up call at practice

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Washington suffered its worst defeat of the season on Saturday, a 5-1 drubbing in Carolina that head coach Barry Trotz summed up rather succinctly.

“You’ve got to play smarter,” he said, per the Washington Post. “We didn’t do that.”

On Monday, Trotz set about smartening up his team.

There were radical line changes at Kettler this morning, with the most notable being Jay Beagle‘s ascension to No. 1 center duties alongside Alex Ovechkin. Nicklas Backstrom was between Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie, while Evgeny Kuznetsov skated in the middle on a line with Zach Sanford and Justin Williams.

That left Lars Eller to center the fourth line, between Daniel Winnik and Tom Wilson.

To be fair, complacency was predicted to be an issue for the Caps this year.

After last year’s terrific run through the regular season, the club once again fell short of its ultimate goal and failed to get out of the second round — a signature of the Alex Ovechkin era in D.C.

As such, there’s a real “just get to the playoffs already” vibe in Washington. The club’s in no danger of missing them — despite the uneven play, the Caps are still 9-4-1 to start the year — so moments like today could be Trotz’s way of keeping his players on their toes.

Today’s moves could be more than a wake-up call, however. Trotz may be looking to coax more offense out of the team, as the Caps currently sit 16th in the NHL in goals per game (2.64).

Hamonic, slated to miss 4-6 weeks, will return after sitting just three games

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On Nov. 5, Isles d-man Travis Hamonic suffered a hand injury that was supposed to sideline him for a month, maybe a month-and-a-half.

Turns out the timetable was a lot smaller than that.

Tonight, Hamonic will suit up to face the Lightning, after missing just three games with a suspected broken right thumb (per Newsday).

The news comes with the Isles still struggling to find their way this season — they’re 5-7-3 heading into Monday’s game, just one point ahead of last-place Carolina in the Metropolitan Division.

They’re also the only team in the NHL not to win a road game (0-4-1) thus far.

Hamonic’s return will undoubtedly help. A quality defensive defenseman, he formed a good pairing with Nick Leddy prior to getting hurt and was used by head coach Jack Capuano in all situations.

“Travis was playing power play, first-unit penalty kill, 21-plus minutes a night, alternate captain,” Capuano said, per Newsday. “It’s the same as always when we lose someone. It’s an opportunity for other guys to step up.”

In other Isles news, veteran Dennis Seidenberg was placed on IR on Monday — he suffered a suspected broken jaw on Saturday, further depleting New York’s d-man core.

That injury could’ve played a role in Hamonic returning from injury as early as he has.

Flyers send Laughton, Lyubimov down to AHL

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Philly made a pair of roster moves ahead of Friday’s game in Toronto, sending forwards Roman Lyubimov and Scott Laughton down to AHL Lehigh Valley.

Laughton, the club’s first-round pick in 2012, hasn’t played this year due to injury. He’s already spent a bit of time in the American League on a conditioning stint with the Phantoms, scoring two points in two games.

Lyubimov, 24, made his NHL debut earlier this year and has been a steady presence in the lineup, scoring one goal while averaging 9:14 TOI in 11 games.

At first glance, it’s unclear why Philly made these transactions today:

The Flyers are pressed against the cap ceiling, so it’s possible these moves could be financially driven. Boyd Gordon is currently on long-term injured reserve, a move that happened after the club activated defenseman Michael Del Zotto.

Babcock bag skates Leafs — in the dark — after ‘unacceptable’ blowout loss

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The lights went out at Toronto’s practice facility on Wednesday, but the Leafs kept skating.

And skating.

And skating.

Following an ugly 7-0 loss to L.A. on Tuesday, head coach Mike Babcock put his team to work, right through a power outage that forced the team to skate in the dark.

The scene, courtesy CBC:

Babcock said his players would do their “penance” at Wednesday’s practice, and indeed they did in a manner similar to the infamous scene in “Miracle” where 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks (played by Kurt Russell) kept the team after an exhibition game to skate, putting them through a gruelling pace after a lacklustre effort against Norway.  

Jake Gardiner described the practice as the toughest yet in the Babcock era, which started last season.

“We’re not playing like that,” Babcock said of Tuesday’s effort. “It’s unacceptable to play that. It’s un-Leaf-like as far as I’m concerned now and we’re not playing like that.”

Tuesday’s loss came after a fairly successful three-game winning streak, though it’s hardly Toronto’s lone blowout loss of the year. The Leafs were thumped 5-1 in Brooklyn two weeks ago, and also allowed seven goals at home in a 7-3 loss to the Lightning back on Oct. 25.

Last night’s defeat, though, was clearly something different, and wasn’t just about the ugly scoreline.