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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Banged-up Bolts recall Condra

A rash of injuries at forward has forced Tampa Bay to recall veteran Erik Condra from AHL Syracuse, the club announced on Monday.

“What I like about Erik is he’s a pro,” Syracuse head coach Benoit Groulx said, per BoltsProspects. “Every day he’s one of our best players on the ice. Whether it’s a game or practice, he is showing the way. I can’t say enough about him.

Signed to a three-year, $3.75 million deal on the opening day of free agency in 2015, Condra was a disappointment last season, with just 11 points in 54 games, and appeared to be in a battle for a roster spot throughout the preseason.

Just prior to the start of the campaign, the Bolts waived the 30-year-old.

A veteran of over 350 NHL contests, Condra has fared well in the AHL this year, scoring three goals and nine points in 13 games. And this recall could be a huge opportunity for him.

As mentioned above, the Bolts are dealing with major health concerns right now. Captain Steve Stamkos is out at least four months following knee surgery, while Jonathan Drouin — who only recently returned from an upper-body injury — took a shot to the head against the Flyers on Saturday.

Brian Boyle missed the Philly game entirely due to his upper-body injury, while veteran Bolts beat writer Erik Erlendsson notes that Cedric Paquette has taken a series of big hits lately, too.

‘Canes send trade target Murphy to AHL on conditioning stint

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Last week, we welcomed Carolina d-man Ryan Murphy to the trade rumor mill.

Today, another development on the Murphy front — he’s been sent to AHL Charlotte on a conditioning stint.

The 12th overall pick in 2011, Murphy missed the start of the year with a lower-body injury and made his season debut on Nov. 1. From there, he played in just three more games — for a grand total of four — and hasn’t suited up since going minus-3 in a 4-2 loss to Anaheim 11 days ago.

All told, Murphy is averaging just over 13 minutes per night, and has scored just a single point. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that Murphy “doesn’t seem to be a fit for Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters,” adding the 23-year-old blueliner “will likely be on the move.”

The former OHL standout could have some value across the league. He’s a right-handed shot, which is vital, and a good skater with nice passing vision. Injuries have been a problem throughout his four-year career, though, and he’s never played more than 48 games in a single season.

Heading to Charlotte shouldn’t be a huge shock for Murphy. He’s spent considerable time there in the past, including 32 games last year.

Zatkoff ‘good to go,’ so Kings send Campbell back down

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Yesterday, we passed along word that the Kings were getting healthier at forward, and now it appears that’s happening in goal as well.

Jeff Zatkoff, who was forced to leave last week’s game against Ottawa with a groin injury, said he’s ready to return ahead of tomorrow’s home tilt versus the Devils.

That means Jack Campbell, who played a grand total of 20 minutes at the NHL level this year, is headed back down to AHL Ontario.

“I feel 100 percent confident now,” Zatkoff said, per LA Kings Insider. “I feel it’s good to go, so now I’ll just keep working on getting back up to game speed.”

It’ll be interesting to see when Zatkoff makes his return. His injury, along with the one to starting netminder Jonathan Quick, basically forced head coach Darryl Sutter to ride Peter Budaj almost exclusively over the last four weeks.

Budaj, who projected to spend most of this year in the AHL, has fared well as the temporary No. 1, going 8-6-1 with a .914 save percentage and 2.12 GAA.

Zatkoff was signed this summer to be Quick’s backup, though, so logic would assume he’ll be in soon.

Hertl leaves road trip, will undergo MRI in San Jose

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The Sharks will finish their six-game road swing on Saturday in Arizona, and they’ll probably be glad to see it end.

Having lost their last two games — 1-0 in Carolina, and 3-2 in St. Louis — the Sharks have also lost the services of a key forward, as Tomas Hertl has been returned to San Jose to undergo an MRI.

“Any time you’re sending a guy back early on a trip to get looked at there’s concern, but you look around the league, everyone is dealing with injuries,” head coach Peter DeBoer said. “A lot of injuries to key guys.”

Per CSN Bay Area, it’s possible Hertl re-injured his right knee, which has given him problems throughout the last few years.

Hertl played just over 10 minutes in last night’s loss to the Blues, and was last seen limping up the tunnel during the second period. Losing him for any length of time will hurt — Hertl has been a steady producer for the Sharks this year, with four goals and five assists for nine points in 16 games.

“He’s a big part of this team,” Logan Couture said, per CSN Bay Area. “Great player. Really come into his own these last couple years. Some nights he’s our best player on the ice.

“Big hole to fill if he is to miss some time. Hopefully it’s not too bad.”

The Sharks are thin at forward right now. Melker Karlsson, along with Hertl, missed Friday’s practice and there’s no update on his status for tomorrow’s game. Karlsson is dealing with a left ankle ailment.

Goalie nods: Flames stick with Johnson for a third straight start

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Interesting times in Calgary.

The Flames host the Blackhawks tonight and, for the third straight game, it’ll be Chad Johnson getting the nod ahead of No. 1 netminder Brian Elliott.

To his credit, Johnson is full value for the start. He’s posted back-to-back wins and looked sharp, stopping 47 of 48 shots for a .978 save percentage. For a Flames team looking to get things on track after a rough October, it’s something of a no-brainer.

But it’s not without controversy.

At the draft in June, GM Brad Treliving made a fairly big splash in acquiring Elliott from St. Louis, calling him “one of the best goaltenders in the league for the last number of years.” The belief was Elliot would finally solve Calgary’s longstanding goalie problem and, at the tail end of the preseason, there were reports the two sides were discussing a contract extension.

Then the regular season happened.

Elliott got off to a poor start. And though he’s had a couple of quality outings since, his overall numbers reflect that sluggish beginning — he’s 3-8-0 with a .882 save percentage, and 3.36 GAA.

This situation will be one to monitor moving forward. An important factor to consider is that both Johnson and Elliott are pending UFAs.

For Chicago, Corey Crawford starts in goal.

Elsewhere…

— After getting knocked out of an ugly 7-1 loss to Washington on Wednesday, Matt Murray is back in goal for Pittsburgh. The Isles will counter with Jaroslav Halak, who’s shouldered a heavy workload recently.

Jimmy Howard is back in for the Red Wings, who take on the Caps in Washington. He’ll be up against Braden Holtby.

— Quality matchup in Columbus, where a pair of former Vezina winners, Henrik Lundqvist and Sergei Bobrovsky, go head-to-head.

— The Habs are in the first of a back-to-back, so Al Montoya goes in Carolina (Carey Price will, presumably, start tomorrow against Toronto). The ‘Canes are going with Cam Ward fresh off a 22-save shutout against San Jose on Tuesday.