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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Goalie nods: Kuemper, Kinkaid make rare starts

It’s an usually busy Monday night in the NHL, with a couple of unusual starting assignments.

Let’s begin in Dallas, where the visiting Minnesota Wild will give Darcy Kuemper the nod for just the fourth time this season. Kuemper has spent most of the year watching Devan Dubnyk, and with good reason — Dubnyk has been one of the NHL’s best, posting a .948 save percentage and 1.59 GAA, with four shutouts.

Kuemper, though, has won two of his three starts, including a 35-save effort against Ottawa two weeks ago.

To be perfectly honest, it may not matter who the Wild start in goal. The team is mired in an offensive slump, which prompted head coach Bruce Boudreau to note that “we can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals.”

Kuemper looks as though he’ll take on Antti Niemi, as he was the first goalie off at Dallas’ morning skate.

In San Jose, there’s another rare nod on the horizon as Keith Kinkaid will give Cory Schneider the evening off. Kinkaid, like Kuemper, hasn’t played much at all — this will also be just his fourth start of the season — but the New Jersey backup has fared very well in his limited body of work.

Kinkaid is 2-0-1 on the year with a .944 save percentage and 1.66 GAA, and will do battle against a Sharks team that’s struggling to score goals right now.

For the Sharks, Martin Jones is in goal.

Elsewhere…

Brian Elliott returns to the Flames’ goal, after Chad Johnson started four in a row (winning three of ’em). He’ll be up against Robin Lehner, who has lost his last five.

— It’s expected that Antti Raanta will give Henrik Lundqvist a break, and get the start in Pittsburgh. The Penguins look like they’ll go with Marc-Andre Fleury, the first goalie off at the morning skate.

— Colorado will start Semyon Varlamov, after Calvin Pickard played in Thursday’s loss to Dallas. No word yet on a Columbus starter, but head coach John Tortorella has used Sergei Bobrovsky almost exclusively this season.

— Good (and tall) matchup in Nashville: 6-foot-8 Ben Bishop and the Bolts take on 6-foot-6 Pekka Rinna and the Preds.

— After Scott Darling played great in a comeback win over Vancouver on Saturday, Corey Crawford returns to start for the ‘Hawks. He’ll be up against Cam Talbot, who goes for the host Oilers.

Another injury blow for Florida — Petrovic (ankle) out two months

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The Panthers can’t catch a break.

On the same day they finally received some good news in the health department — Nick Bjugstad is ready to make his season debut, after missing 19 games with a hand injury — the Panthers announced that d-man Alex Petrovic would miss the next eight weeks with an ankle injury, and has been placed on IR.

Petrovic, 24, scored one goal and five points in 16 games this year, averaging just under 18 minutes per night. He was hurt blocking a shot during Florida’s overtime win in Montreal last Tuesday, and hasn’t played since.

With Petrovic out, the Panthers rolled a six-man defensive unit of Aaron Ekblad, Jason Demers, Mike Matheson, Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk and Jakub Kindl in Sunday’s shootout victory over the Rangers.

It’s possible that Dylan McIlrath, acquired in a trade with the Blueshirts earlier this month, could draw back into the lineup at some point — he hasn’t played since a 6-1 drubbing in Toronto last week.

As for Bjugstad, he’s on target to play in tomorrow’s home date against the Flyers. His season debut is almost certain, given the Panthers sent Jared McCann down to AHL Springfield.

The Panthers are still without the services of former Calder winner Jonathan Huberdeau, who’s out 3-4 months with a lacerated Achilles. Jussi Jokinen also missed extended time earlier this season with a lower-body ailment.

Coyotes say Cunningham in critical condition, but stable, after on-ice collapse (Updated)

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Here’s the latest on the health of Arizona Coyotes farmhand Craig Cunningham, who collapsed prior to a game with AHL Tucson on the weekend:

Cunningham, 26, fell to the ice just prior to the start of Saturday’s game against Manitoba.

More, from Tucson.com:

Cunningham collapsed just moments before the puck was scheduled to drop. He appeared to convulse after hitting the ice.

Medics worked on Cunningham, who was lying on his back, and cut away his jersey. They performed chest compressions before moving him off the ice and into an ambulance.

Late Saturday evening, the Coyotes issued a statement that Cunningham suffered “a medical emergency,” adding he was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

According to Vancouver’s News 1130 sources, it’s believed he suffered a heart attack. Cunningham was born in Trail, British Columbia and spent five seasons playing for Vancouver’s WHL team, the Giants, helping them capture the Memorial Cup in 2007.

Update: The AHL, in conjunction with Tucson, has postponed the Roadrunners’ next two games — scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 22 and Wednesday, Nov. 23.

“Craig is a highly respected player and team leader in our league,” said David Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire AHL family remain with Craig, his family and his teammates.”

Still seeking offense — and now without Hertl — Sharks recall another AHL scorer

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We’re about to get another look at the talent San Jose’s been grooming in the minors.

Just two weeks after recalling sniper Kevin Labanc from the Barracuda, the Sharks have once again dipped into the AHL pool by recalling forward Danny O’Regan.

The move comes with Tomas Hertl (knee) going on IR, an injury that could sideline him for “weeks.”

O’Regan, 22, was San Jose’s fifth-round pick in 2012 and, like Labanc, has been a high-level scorer at nearly every level. He was a point-per-game guy in his four years at Boston University — quite literally, with 154 points in 154 games — and is off to a terrific start in his first professional campaign, with 11 points in 11 games for the Barracuda.

“He’s just really smart, and he’s fast, and he can shoot. He’s kind of the full package,” head coach Roy Sommer said, per the Gackle Report. “He’s a kid, you only have to tell him once and he does it. He’s not a tough teach.”

If Labanc is any indication, O’Regan could be contributing quickly in San Jose.

Labanc has appeared in six games since his recall, scoring his first NHL marker while averaging just under 13 minutes per night. There are minutes available, as the Hertl injury makes for big hole in the Sharks lineup.

And, as mentioned above, this is a team still looking for offense.

The Sharks sit 26th in the NHL in goals per game (2.3), and have scored just four times during their current three-game losing streak.

San Jose opens a five-game homestand tonight, when it hosts the Devils.

Leafs, Wings unveil Centennial Classic jerseys

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The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will play outdoors on Jan. 1 — at Toronto’s BMO Field — and we now know what the two teams will look like.

First up, the Leafs unis:

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Next, Detroit:

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More on the Toronto gear, from the club:

“The NHL Centennial Classic will be a special moment in our year-long celebration of 100 years of Maple Leafs hockey and this new sweater offers a signature look for the occasion, combining important elements of our club’s past, but also our present and future as it features the new Maple Leaf crest,” said Brendan Shanahan, Toronto Maple Leafs President and Alternate Governor. “We look forward to this event being a memorable day for both our fans and our team and this unique sweater will be an important part of those memories.”

Several elements of the uniform pay homage to the team’s past. The words ‘Honour, Pride and Courage’ stitched into the back of the neck of the sweater, similar to the team’s new sweaters, are taken from a famous Conn Smythe quote and represents the values the franchise strives to represent. The horizontal singular band of white across the body of the sweater is reminiscent of the Toronto St. Pats sweater worn from 1922 to 1925, and as a tribute to the franchise’s origin, the pants are adorned with a white Toronto Arenas “T.”

And from the Wings:

The Red Wings NHL Centennial Classic™ uniforms pay homage to the beginnings of the franchise and the NHL’s 100th anniversary season. The color silver is used throughout the uniform as a nod to the League’s milestone season, most notably in a special version of the Winged Wheel front crest that incorporates silver tones into the normally white areas. Additionally, silver is found in the top stripe on both sleeves of the jersey, along with the trim in the uniform numbers.

The silver stripe found on both sleeves honors the 11 Stanley Cup® Championships in Red Wings franchise history. Each individual championship season is listed in the silver stripes, with five championship seasons honored on the right sleeve (1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952) and six on the left sleeve (1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008). The four red stripes on both sleeves are a tribute to the original Detroit Cougars, which prominently displayed stripes in their jersey designs. The pants will also feature a version of the letter “D,” similar to the design worn originally by the Cougars during the team’s 1926-27 season.

Related: Blues, ‘Hawks unveil Winter Classic jerseys