Mike Halford

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

No hearing scheduled for Virtanen after Nordstrom incident

13 Comments

Vancouver forward Jake Virtanen isn’t scheduled for a disciplinary hearing after shoving the head of Carolina’s Joakim Nordstrom into the boards, an NHL spokesman confirmed.

As seen above, the incident occurred early in the third period of Sunday’s game, which the Canucks won 4-3 in overtime.

Virtanen wasn’t penalized on the play and Nordstrom was able to complete the contest, finishing with 14:25 TOI.

Virtanen has a history with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. Last season, he was suspended two games for a “late, forceful, blindside check” on San Jose defenseman Roman Polak.

The sixth overall pick at the 2014 draft, Virtanen was on the receiving end of a heavy Lance Bouma check in Vancouver’s season-opening win over Calgary. Bouma wasn’t penalized on the play.

Related:

Canucks author another comeback win, which was rare last season

A frustrating start for the ‘Canes, who’ve already blow a pair of 3-goal leads

Goalie nods: Raanta goes for Rangers, Lundqvist gets early rest

Getty
1 Comment

After a season in which Henrik Lundqvist struggled down the stretch and admitted he felt fatigued, the Rangers wanted to lighten their starting netminder’s workload.

Tonight, that plan will come into effect — after Lundqvist went 1-1 over the first two games of the year, the Blueshirts will turn to Antti Raanta tonight when they host the Sharks at MSG.

“Last year, it was more games where [there were] more scoring chances, more shots,” Lundqvist said earlier this month, per the New York Post. “That can take a toll.”

Lundqvist, 34, did not have a very good finish to the ’15-16 campaign. He had an .867 save percentage in five playoff games versus the Penguins. And just prior to that, he’d struggled down the stretch of the regular season, allowing 39 goals in his last 13 games combined.

Raanta, meanwhile, was one of the league’s better backups, going 11-6-2 with a 2.24 GAA and .919 save percentage.

Though it’s a small sample size, Lundqvist’s numbers haven’t been great this year. He’s allowed six goals on 46 shots, an .870 save percentage.

Per the Post, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said research showed that successful teams start their No. 1 between 50-58 regular season games, so it’ll be interesting to see how that effects Lundqvist.

Traditionally, the veteran Swede has been a workhorse, often starting more than 60 times a year. Last season Lundqvist started the first six games before Raanta made his debut.

For the Sharks, Martin Jones will be in goal tonight.

Elsewhere…

Calvin Pickard will make his season debut for the Avs tonight in Pittsburgh. Semyon Varlamov was in goal for a wild 6-5 win over Dallas in the season opener and, with Colorado in the first of a back-to-back set, Varlamov is expected to be back in goal tomorrow in Washington. For the Pens, Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start.

Andrew Hammond makes his season debut for the Sens in Detroit. The Wings will go with Petr Mrazek for the third straight game.

More: A final home opener at Joe Louis Arena, and the Wings need to be better

— After ceding Saturday’s game in Toronto to Anton Khudobin, Tuukka Rask is expected to start for the Bruins tonight in Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck returns to the Jets net, after Michael Hutchinson played in Saturday’s loss to the Wild.

After winless start, Ducks waive Raymond

Getty
4 Comments

Mason Raymond‘s reunion with Randy Carlyle has hit a snag.

On Monday, the Ducks placed Raymond on waivers — just three games into his stint with Anaheim, who signed Raymond in the hopes of reviving his career.

And the hope, of course, is that Carlyle would be the catalyst.

Back in ’13-14, Raymond attended Leafs camp on a PTO and impressed Carlyle — then the head coach in Toronto — and earned himself a one-year deal.

Raymond proceeded to score 19 goals and 45 points for the Leafs, which netted him a three-year, $9.45 million deal from Calgary.

After two disappointing years with the Flames, he was bought out in June.

Just a few days later, Raymond signed a $675,000 deal with the Ducks.

The 31-year-old did appear in all three games for Anaheim this year — all losses — going pointless with a minus-2 rating. After getting less than nine minutes in his first two games, he received a season-high 12:31 TOI in Sunday’s OT defeat to the Islanders, finishing with just one shot on goal.

It’s possible this move was made in connection to Anaheim claiming speedster Emerson Etem off waivers from Vancouver. Etem has yet to play for the Ducks, but could replace Raymond in the lineup.

It’s worth noting that Anaheim cleared a roster spot for Etem by waiving forward Joseph Cramarossa, and sending him to AHL San Diego.

 

Price (flu) skates, but Montoya will start Habs’ home opener

Getty
1 Comment

The good news for Carey Price? He’s back on the ice after missing a week with a severe case of the flu.

The bad news? He’s still not ready to play.

Price skated for 40 minutes ahead of Montreal’s practice on Monday, but it’ll be Al Montoya in net — yes, again — on Tuesday, when the Canadiens make their home debut against the defending Cup champion Penguins.

Price has been out since Oct. 10 with the illness, causing him to miss Montreal’s first two games of the season — a 4-1 win in Buffalo, and an 4-3 OT loss in Ottawa.

Per TSN, Habs head coach Michel Therrien said that Price’s energy levels and weight loss are still issues, which is why Montoya will face Pittsburgh.

The veteran backup has been very solid in relief thus far. Montoya’s posted a 1-0-1 record with a 1.92 GAA and .942 save percentage over two starts, facing an average of 34.5 shots per contest.

Today’s news means that Montreal fans will once again have to wait for their star netminder to make his season debut.

Price, who suffered a season-ending MCL sprain last season, hasn’t played Nov. 25 — he hasn’t played at home since Nov. 22 — though he did return to game action for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey, backstopping the squad to the tournament championship.

Goalie nods: With Quick hurt, Zatkoff makes first start for Kings

Getty

It’s Zatkoff time in Los Angeles.

Jeff Zatkoff, the career backup with just 36 games on his resume, will get the biggest opportunity of his NHL career tonight when the Kings host the Flyers at Staples.

Zatkoff will replace the injured Jonathan Quick tonight, and for the foreseeable future. Quick, injured in L.A.’s opening-night loss to the Sharks, doesn’t sound as though he’ll be returning anytime soon.

From L.A. Kings Insider:

Right now, no decision on how to proceed has been made, but Lombardi expressed the desire to have that decision made expeditiously so that it’s not “weeks,” as he said, before there’s any consensus or executive decision on how to proceed.

Lombardi stressed that this is not a short-term injury. Though the term “week-to-week” has been shared by the team, don’t expect to see [Quick] back in the crease for the home stand that opens a week from Saturday.

The injury, per Lombardi, is in the “same area” as the groin, generally speaking. The location wasn’t pinpointed – it’s not necessarily the groin, and in fact sounded as if it was in an area near the groin – but Lombardi said that it wasn’t a knee injury.

Zatkoff, 29, did look sharp in relief of quick on Wednesday night, stopping 15 of 16 shots faced for a .938 save percentage. He also had 11 starts last year for Pittsburgh, so this isn’t completely unfamiliar territory.

For the Flyers, Michal Neuvirth has been named their opening-night starter.

Elsewhere…

Corey Crawford, who allowed three goals on 32 shots in an opening-night loss to St. Louis, will go for Chicago tonight in Nashville. The Preds, to nobody’s surprise, are starting off their campaign with No. 1 netminder Pekka Rinne in goal.

Brian Elliott and Cam Talbot were in goal for Edmonton’s 7-4 win over Calgary on Wednesday, and those two will be back in tonight as the matchup shifts to the Saddledome. Elliott definitely wants to rebound from a shaky performance in his Flames debut.