Mike Halford

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

‘Going to be a fun moment’ ending Columbus’ streak, says Burakovsky

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Tonight in Washington, the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to match the longest winning streak in NHL history — 17 games, set by Pittsburgh in ’92-93.

The Caps, meanwhile, will try to keep it from happening.

Heck, forward Andre Burakovsky is already predicting how good it will feel to put an end to it all.

“Obviously they’re on a huge winning streak right here,” Burakovsky said, per the Washington Times. “It’s going to be a fun moment for us to end.”

Burakovsky’s remarks aren’t much, but it is interesting he’s doing this kind of talking. The former first-round pick’s had a disappointing year, with just four goals through 34 games, and has been parked as a healthy scratch this season.

His remarks also stand out given what teammate T.J. Oshie said on Thursday.

“I think a lot of teams have wanted to break [Columbus’ streak] along the way,” Oshie explained, per the Washington Post. “So, we’re not going to be too focused about that. If the guys need that to motivate them, that’s fine.

“But I think right now, we’re getting our game going in a pretty positive direction, and we’re going to focus on that and hopefully that’ll be enough to break it.”

One thing aiding the Capitals’ cause? Verizon has been a difficult place to get results lately.

Washington is 6-1-1 in its last eight at home, with its lone regulation loss coming against Montreal on Dec. 17. The team also seemed to get a serious shot in the arm from Tuesday’s wild 6-5 OT win over the Leafs, in which the Caps came back from being down 2-1, 4-2 and 5-4.

Know what else the Caps did on Tuesday? They snapped Toronto’s winning streak. Sure, it only sat at five games, but it was a streak broken nonetheless.

Mikael Backlund can’t stop scoring

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CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Mikael Backlund scored for the fifth consecutive game, leading the Calgary Flames to a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Wednesday night.

Alex Chiasson had a goal and an assist and Kris Versteeg and Johnny Gaudreau also scored for Calgary. Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Sean Monahan had two assists each.

Brian Elliott‘s bid for his first shutout of the season ended when Patrick Wiercioch scored with 1:25 left in the third period. Elliott finished with 17 saves to win his fifth straight start and improve to 8-9-1.

Calvin Pickard stopped 33 shots for the Avalanche, who have lost five straight and 10 of 11.

Backlund made it seven goals in his last five games with 2:40 left in the second period for a 2-0 lead. Giordano’s shot was stopped by Pickard but the rebound popped into the slot where Backlund buried his team-leading 12th of the season.

It is the longest goal streak for the Flames since Curtis Glencross scored in seven consecutive games from Feb. 27 to March 11, 2012.

Versteeg got the Flames on the scoreboard with 4:35 left in the first as his shot from the slot caromed in off Fedor Tyutin‘s skate 9 seconds into Calgary’s first power play.

Just 43 seconds after Chiasson made it 3-0 with 6:35 left in the third, Calgary made it three power play goals when Gaudreau faked out Pickard and stuffed the puck inside the goal post.

Calgary’s power play has been on a real roll the last five weeks. Ranked 30th in the NHL at the end of November at 10.1 percent (8 for 79), it has been the best in the NHL since that point, operating at 35.7 percent (20 for 56).

Colorado’s best spurt came midway through the second period while down 1-0 when they had a pair of 2-on-1s just minutes apart. But neither resulted in a shot. Mikael Grigorenko fired Joe Colborne‘s set-up wide on the first. Then, Mikko Rantanen fired a shot off the post after a nice pass from Nathan MacKinnon.

NOTES: Backlund’s goal was his 200th NHL point. … Backlund ties Dallas’ Patrick Eaves and Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby for the second-longest goal-scoring streak this season. Nashville’s James Neal had a six-game run in November. … Freddie Hamilton drew into the Flames’ lineup for the first time since Dec. 2. … Since his opening-game hat trick, Avs forward Joe Colborne has gone 29 games without a goal.

UP NEXT

Avalanche: Host the New York Islanders on Friday night to start a four-game homestand.

Flames: At Vancouver on Friday night to start a home-and-home set on consecutive nights.

Ducks re-sign Tokarski: one year, $650,000

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Anaheim has re-upped with third string netminder Dustin Tokarski on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, per the O.C. Register and TVA.

Tokarski, 27, has played in one game for the Ducks this year, coming on in relief of John Gibson in a game against Columbus in late October.

He’s primarily suited up for Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego, where he’s gone 9-6-1 with a 3.29 GAA and .889 save percentage.

Best remembered for coming on in relief of an injured Carey Price for Montreal during the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, Tokarski gives the Ducks some flexibility heading into next season.

Current backup Jonathan Bernier is in the final year of a deal with a $4.15 million cap hit — fairly rich for a No. 2 — and Tokarski would give the Ducks a goalie to expose in June’s expansion draft.

 

Goalie nods: Flyers start Mason for 22nd time in 24 games

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No rest for the weary in Philly tonight — Steve Mason, who’s lost four straight while posting a .841 save percentage, will start for the 22nd time in 24 games when the Flyers host the Rangers at Wells Fargo.

The decision to start Mason comes after Michal Neuvirth was activated from IR, and Anthony Stolarz was sent back to AHL Lehigh Valley. Neuvirth hasn’t played since Nov. 12, which explains why the Flyers are loathe to throw him right into the mix, and Stolarz was extremely raw at the NHL level — making his debut in late November — all of which has led to Mason’s busy schedule.

“It’s been a heavy workload, obviously. I’ve tried to do my best to prepare my body for this load,” Mason said, per the Philly Inquirer. “Every day, you just try to stay on top of things. I feel all right.”

As Brough wrote earlier this week, this upcoming stretch is a big one for the Flyers. They’ve hit a rough patch, with just one victory in their last seven on the heels of a 10-game win streak, and have a pair of big home dates upcoming against the Rangers (who’ve yet to announce a starter) and Bolts.

After that, they play seven of their next 10 on the road, where they’re a modest 8-9-2 so far this season. Wonder how much rest Mason will get.

Elsewhere…

Roberto Luongo returns to Florida’s net, after James Reimer started the last two games. Not sure who he’ll be up against, as the Jets have yet to announce a starter. Connor Hellebuyck, who beat the Bolts last night, could very well go back-to-back.

— Montreal played last night in Nashville, and Carey Price got the win, so it should be Al Montoya‘s start in Dallas (though that’s yet to be confirmed). Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the Stars.

Ryan Miller, 3-0-0 in his last three starts with a .944 save percentage, will start for the Canucks as they look for their fifth win in a row. He’ll be up against Mike Smith, who gets the nod for Arizona.

Calvin Pickard makes his sixth straight start for the Avs, while Semyon Varlamov deals with a groin injury. He’ll face Brian Elliott, who gets his fourth start in the last five for Calgary.

John Gibson, fresh off a franchise-record 51 saves in a win over the Flyers on Jan. 1, is back in for Anaheim. The visiting Red Wings are going with Petr Mrazek.

Boston legend, Hall of Famer Schmidt dies at 98

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One of the most iconic figures in Bruins franchise history has passed away.

Milt Schmidt, who won four Stanley Cups as a B’s player and GM, has died at the age of 98, per the Boston Globe. The Globe reports Schmidt had suffered a stroke recently, and was living in a care facility.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, Schmidt helped the Bruins win titles as a player in 1939 and ’41, then two more as GM in ’70 and ’72. He also served as head coach immediately following his playing days, leading Boston to back-to-back Cup Finals in ’57 and ’58.

A member of the “Kraut Line” alongside fellow Hall of Famers Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, Schmidt was highly revered throughout the Boston hockey community and the NHL.

Upon news of his passing, an outpouring of condolences flooded social media.

Fittingly, Schmidt — along with Bobby Orr — dropped the ceremonial puck this past October at the Bruins’ first home game of the season.