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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Sergachev highlights Russia’s World Junior camp invitee list

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Mikhail Sergachev, the talented blueliner taken ninth overall by Montreal at this year’s draft, headlines a list of 28 players chosen to participate in Russia’s World Junior training camp, per NHL.com.

Sergachev, 18, thoroughly impressed Habs brass during the exhibition campaign, and make the club out of training camp. He then proceeded to appear in three games for the Canadiens before GM Marc Bergevin sent him back to OHL Windsor.

With the Spits, Sergachev has seven points in his first 11 games.

He isn’t the only intriguing prospect named to Russia’s camp. Goalie Ilya Samsonov — taken 22nd overall by Washington in 2015 — is also there, and in the midst of a terrific KHL campaign. With Metallurg Magnitogorsk, Samosonov has 11 wins this year, with a 2.14 GAA and .934 save percentage.

Denis Gurianov, the forward taken by Dallas with the 12th overall pick in ’15, will also be at camp. Gurianov is currently plying his trade with Dallas’ AHL affiliate in Texas, where he has nine points in 19 games.

There is a fourth first-round pick in the mix as well. That’s German Rubstov, who Philly took at No. 22 this past June. Rubstov has split the year between the KHL and Russia’s junior league, and has emerged as a point-per-game player in the latter.

Goalie nods: Lehner hurt, so Sabres turn to Nilsson

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After injuring his hip during Tuesday’s win over Ottawa, Buffalo starter Robin Lehner won’t play against the Rangers tonight — but, he might be well enough to serve as Anders Nilsson‘s backup.

“It feels 90 percent,” Nilsson said of his hip, per the Buffalo News. “It’s a little stiff still, but it feels good.”

Lehner has been a workhorse lately, but the Sabres should have little concern going to Nilsson. He was solid against the Sens — stopping 26 shots en route to the win — and has posted great numbers this year (.939 save percentage, and 2.20 GAA).

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has yet to decide if Lehner will dress, or if the club will recall a goalie for AHL Rochester. Whatever the case, Lehner isn’t expected to be out long, and has already hinted he’ll be back in goal on Saturday, when Buffalo hosts Boston.

For New York, Henrik Lundqvist is in goal.

Elsewhere…

Cam Ward has been a busy man with Eddie Lack (concussion) on the shelf, and that’ll continue as he starts for the ‘Canes in Boston. Tuukka Rask appears likely for the B’s.

— The flip-flip continues for Dallas, as Antti Niemi gets the start after Kari Lehtonen played on Tuesday (a 3-1 loss to Detroit). Pittsburgh hasn’t announced a starter yet, but Matt Murray played (and lost) to the Isles last night.

Braden Holtby goes for the Caps, who are hosting the Islanders. Like the Pens, no word on an Isles starter — Thomas Greiss played last night, so Jaroslav Halak seems likely.

Steve Mason, who made 45 saves in a win over the Bruins on Tuesday, is back in goal for the Flyers. Ottawa will go with Mike Condon, and Andrew Hammond will back up while Craig Anderson is on a leave of absence to be with his wife.

— The in-form Roberto Luongo (has stopped 68 of his last 70 shots faced) gets the call tonight in Detroit. He’ll be up against Petr Mrazek, who lost both his previous two meetings against the Panthers this year.

— It’s Cam Talbot versus Connor Hellebuyck as the Oilers take on the Jets in Winnipeg. Talbot was hooked last game, a loss to the Leafs.

— Tampa Bay will continue to ride Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has outplayed Ben Bishop this year (though Vasilevskiy had a rough game on Tuesday, allowing five goals in a blowout loss in Columbus). He’ll be up against Jake Allen, who’s riding a six-game winning streak for the Blues.

— Good matchup in Chicago, as Cory Schneider and the Devils take on Corey Crawford and the ‘Hawks.

— An all-Russian matchup in Colorado, where Semyon Varlamov goes back in goal after Calvin Pickard started the last two. Sergei Bobrovsky counters for the Blue Jackets.

Mike Smith is in goal as the Coyotes host the Kings. No word on a Los Angeles starter yet, but Peter Budaj played in last night’s 4-1 loss to San Jose.

— The Canucks will go back to Ryan Miller, after he beat the Wild on Tuesday. Anaheim hasn’t unveiled its starter yet.

Chara ‘out there skating, but he won’t be playing tonight’

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Boston will be without its captain for a fifth straight game when it hosts the ‘Canes on Thursday.

Zdeno Chara is still nursing a lower-body injury, but there was a positive development this morning as he returned to practice with his teammates.

“He’s out there skating, but he won’t be playing tonight,” B’s head coach Claude Julien said today, per CSNNE. “We’ve hung in there.”

The Bruins are just 1-2-1 without Chara’s services but, defensively, the club has fared reasonably well. Boston has allowed just eight goals over that stretch, which also saw the club lose the services of another veteran blueliner in John-Michael Liles, who is out with a concussion.

As a result, Julien has been rolling with a six-man defensive unit comprised of Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller. Krug and Carlo were the big-minute men in Tuesday’s shootout loss to Philly, getting 25:53 and 24:07 of ice time, respectively.

Julien praised his makeshift group for shutting down the Flyers after allowing two first-period markers. Philly had just 11 shots on goal over the second and third periods, and just one in the overtime session.

 

Werenski named November’s rookie of the month

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Columbus knew it had a special talent in d-man Zach Werenski and, accordingly, had high expectations of him coming into this season.

Werenski hasn’t just met those expectations through the first two months of his NHL career. It’s fair to say he’s exceeded them.

From the league:

Werenski, who led rookie blueliners and shared third place among all first-year players with 3-7—10 in 14 games, has been named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November.

Werenski edged Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (7-2-0, 2.02 GAA, .929 SV%, 1 SO), Toronto Maple Leafs center Mitchell Marner (6-7—13 in 14 GP), Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (7-4—11 in 16 GP), Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (3-7—10 in 14 GP) and New York Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei (0-9—9 in 15 GP) for the honor.

Werenski, the eighth overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, registered at least one point in eight of his 14 appearances, including a pair of two-assist efforts to open the month (Nov. 1 vs. DAL and Nov. 4 vs. MTL). He also scored the overtime winner Nov. 9 vs. ANA, becoming the first rookie defenseman in franchise history to achieve the feat.

This is shaping up to be a potentially historic rookie class. Two other prized freshmen — Toronto’s William Nylander and Auston Matthews — are very much in the Calder Trophy mix, while the likes of Jimmy Vesey, Travis Konecny, Sebastian Aho, Brayden Point and Matthew Tkachuk are also having impressive seasons as well.

More good news for Jets, as Perreault returns from 14-game absence

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Maybe Brough should jinx the Jets more often.

After a hideous five-game losing streak in which they were outscored 20-6 and out-shot 156-112, things have started to go in a better direction.

Tonight, the club will welcome Mathieu Perreault back, after Perreault missed the last 14 games with an upper-body injury suffered in early November.

Perreault will skate as a fourth-line winger against the Oilers this evening, illustrating the depth Winnipeg now has up front. Perreault’s scored 40-plus points in each of the last three years, and finished tied with Mark Scheifele for third in assists (32) in ’15-16.

Perreault’s return isn’t the only thing trending in the right direction.

Winnipeg has won two straight, which included Connor Hellebuyck’s terrific 42-save shutout over the Preds on Sunday. And in Tuesday’s win over the Devils, the Jets welcomed Bryan Little back into the lineup, after Little was knocked out of action in the first game of the season.

The veteran center logged more than 20 minutes against New Jersey, just to give an idea of how big a role he plays for the Jets.