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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Blue Monday: Jackets lose Seth Jones (foot) for three weeks

It’s been a reasonably good start to the year in Columbus — 5-3-2 record, a historic 10-0 win over the Habs — but some luster was knocked off Monday, as the club announced Seth Jones would miss the next three weeks with a hairline fracture in his foot.

The loss is profound, without question.

Jones is the team’s anchor on the back end — nobody on the team plays more minutes, and he leads all blueliners in goals while sitting second in assists.

Up to this point, the 22-year-old has also been remarkably durable, and capable of shouldering a heavy workload. He’s appeared in 240 of a possible 246 games over his three-year career, and has seen his TOI and overall role spike since coming over from Nashville in last year’s Ryan Johansen blockbuster.

The three-week timetable would keep Jones out until Nov. 28, meaning he’s likely to miss Columbus’ next 10 games.

With him out of the lineup, look for the likes of Ryan Murray and Zach Werenski to see more ice time than usual. The club could look at recalling Cody Goloubef from AHL Cleveland.

‘Hawks sign OHL sniper DeBrincat to entry-level deal

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Alex DeBrincat, the prolific junior scorer picked 39th overall by Chicago at this year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the ‘Hawks announced on Monday.

DeBrincat, 18, was one of the most intriguing prospects in Buffalo this past June. On numbers alone, he ranked as one of the most dynamic offensive talents available — he posted back-to-back 51-goal seasons with OHL Erie in ’14-15 and ’15-16, eclipsing the 100-point plateau in each campaign.

So, why did he fall all the way to No. 39 overall?

Measurables, primarily.

At 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, he lacks traditional NHL size. Of course, it’s done little to hold him back at the junior level, where he’s already established himself as a decorated skater (he captured both OHL and CHL rookie of the year honors in his freshman campaign).

This year, DeBrincat leads the Ontario League with 17 goals and 35 points through 14 games. Yeah, fourteen games.

 

Slumping Wings put Vanek (hip) on long-term injured reserve

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Thomas Vanek‘s bright start in the Motor City has dimmed a bit.

On Monday, the Red Wings announced they’ve placed Vanek on long-term injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 25, and recalled Tyler Bertuzzi from AHL Grand Rapids. The retroactive designation means Vanek will be on LTIR for 10 games/24 days, minus the time already “served” — and he’s already “served” six games/13 days.

Per MLive, the earliest he can return is Nov. 18.

Vanek, currently dealing with a hip ailment, hasn’t played since a win over Carolina on the 25th, a game in which he scored his fourth goal of the season.

All told, the veteran winger had eight points through seven games as a Red Wing, and his scoring looked to be as dynamic as it was in the earlier parts of his career.

Which is why this injury is a tough break for Detroit.

The club is in a funk right now, having lost five straight after starting the year 6-2-0. Offense has been an issue — just nine goals scored during the losing skid — and, following Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Oilers, Justin Abdelkader tried to pinpoint the club’s issues on offense.

“There are too many times where we are passing up shots and trying to take an extra pass,” Abdelkader said, per ESPN. “Sometimes, the best play in hockey is putting the puck on the net.”

On that note, worth pointing out that — despite his injury — Vanek still leads the Wings in goals.

 

‘Pretty confident’ Kronwall (knee) to make season debut

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Detroit will have one of its most familiar faces in the lineup for the first time this year when they take on the Jets at Joe Louis tonight.

Niklas Kronwall, who missed the first 11 games of the season due to a knee injury, will make his season debut.

“I feel pretty confident,” Kronwall said, per MLive. “I had a good test here Tuesday in a full practice and felt pretty good. I shouldn’t have any limitations out there at all.”

Kronwall, 35, is a pretty important cog in Detroit’s defense. Despite dealing with injuries last year, he still managed to dress for 64 games and average over 22 minutes a night — down from the career-high 24:22 he averaged a few years back, sure, but still quite a bit of ice time.

To further illustrate his importance to the Wings, Kronwall will play alongside Mike Green on the club’s top power play unit.

Detroit has done reasonably well in Kronwall’s absence this year, getting off to a 6-2-0 start before going 0-2-1 in its last three. Head coach Jeff Blashill did say the minutes will be managed to start — Kronwall hasn’t played an actual game in six months — but it’s clear just getting No. 55 back in the mix, period, will be a boost.

D-men Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul will be the scratches this evening.

Goalie nods: Bobrovsky rides again

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On Monday, Brough wrote about how Sergei Bobrovsky has been excellent — and busy — for the Blue Jackets this season.

Four days later, nothing has changed — Bobrovsky is still excellent, and he’s still really busy.

The Jackets will play their ninth game tonight against the visiting Canadiens and, for the ninth time, they’ll give Bob the start. The nod is well deserved — in his previous eight games, Bobrovsky’s posted a .941 save percentage, 2.02 GAA and a pair of shutouts, helping Columbus off to a respectable 4-3-1 start.

“Bob is in great shape,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said earlier this week. “He wants to play.”

Torts is certainly indulging him.

Sure, part of this stems from the club’s murky backup situation — Curtis McElhinney struggled last year, and Joonas Korpisalo‘s in the AHL after recovering from injury — but part of this is classic Torts. His reputation for riding his best players is well known, and it’s hard to say that anyone aside from Bobrovsky is Columbus’ MVP.

Sadly, we won’t get a marquee goalie matchup. Carey Price will get the night off, paving the way for Al Montoya to start for Montreal.

Elsewhere…

Petr Mrazek goes for Detroit, while the visiting Jets have yet to name a starter. Paul Maurice has been alternating starts between Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson lately, and Hutchinson played last night against Washington.

John Gibson was the first goalie off at Anaheim’s morning skate, so he looks likely. No word yet on a Coyotes starter, but Louis Domingue could go back-to-back after an impressive win against San Jose last night.