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

Goalie nods: Bobrovsky named December’s first star, looks to continue win streak

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First, the award — Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky has been named the NHL’s first star for December:

Bobrovsky went 12-0-0 with a 1.75 goals-against average and .939 save percentage to guide the Blue Jackets (26-5-4, 56 points) to a perfect 14-0-0 December and the top of the League standings.

In doing so, Columbus equaled the second-longest single-season winning streak in NHL history (15) and became just the second team in League history to win every outing in a calendar month of at least 10 games (PIT: 15-0-0 in March 2013).

Bobrovsky allowed two or fewer goals in nine of his 12 December appearances and also made 30-plus saves five times, including a season-high 37 stops Dec. 27 vs. BOS.

Needless to say, it was a pretty good month. Now Bobrovsky will look to continue that form — and Columbus’ 15-game winning streak — when the Jackets host Edmonton at Nationwide. This will be the second time Bob’s faced Connor McDavid and company this season, having previously stopped 33 shots in a 3-1 win in mid-December.

For Edmonton, Cam Talbot gets the nod. He too enjoyed a very good December, going 7-1-4 with a .924 save percentage and 2.26 GAA.


Eddie Lack is back on the shelf with a concussion, so Cam Ward starts yet again for the ‘Canes. No word yet on who goes for the visiting Devils.

Anders Nilsson gets the nod for the Sabres, who are in New York this evening. No word yet on a Rangers starter.

— Good matchup in Washington, where Braden Holtby and the Caps will host Frederik Andersen and the Leafs. Holtby is coming off a 23-save win over Ottawa on Sunday, and Andersen is riding a personal four-game winning streak.

— The Lightning will continue to ride Andrei Vasilevskiy, with Ben Bishop sidelined due to injury. The Russian ‘tender has won four of his last six starts, and will try for five in seven when the Bolts host Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets.

— In a much-ballyhooed game in Nashville, Carey Price and the Habs take on Pekka Rinne and the Preds. Price is looking to rebound after losing three consecutive starts, while Rinne is looking over his shoulder at backup Juuse Saros, who has played very well in limited minutes.

— The Sharks and Kings renew their rivalry in San Jose tonight and, unsurprisingly, both teams are going with their No. 1s: Martin Jones for the Sharks, Peter Budaj for the Kings.

Video: Pacioretty struck by Weber shot, helped off ice

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No shortage of storylines ahead of tonight’s Habs-Preds tilt in Nashville.

P.K. Subban is hurt, and unable to face his former team. Shea Weber is healthy, and is bracing for an emotional return to the Music City. And now, Weber’s involved in another development after his slapshot felled Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty during the morning skate.

Pacioretty is now questionable for tonight’s tilt, coach Michel Therrien said (per ESPN).

The Habs can ill-afford to lose Pacioretty, who leads the team in goals (15) and points (30). They’re already dealing with a slew of injuries to key players: Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, David Desharnais and Andrei Markov, most notably.

More accolades for Matthews, who wins first rookie of the month award


Fresh off capturing the NHL’s first star of the week on Monday, Toronto’s Auston Matthews garnered more accolades today by capturing December’s rookie of the month award.

More, from the league:

Matthews edged Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (6-6—12 in 14 GP), Calgary Flames left wing Matthew Tkachuk (1-11—12 in 13 GP), Carolina Hurricanes right wing Sebastian Aho (4-5—9 in 14 GP) and Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (6-1-1, 2.34 GAA, .926 SV%, 1 SO) for the honor.

Matthews, who also paced all rookies with eight goals, registered at least one point in nine of his 12 December appearances, highlighted by a five-game point streak to close the month (4-3—7). He also recorded three multi-point performances, two power-play goals and one game-winning goal (Dec. 22 at COL).

Matthews now joins Leafs teammate William Nylander (October) and Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski (November) as rookie of the month winners this season.


Everything’s coming up Matthews!

Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages


Is Anaheim readying to move a defenseman?


Last week, we wrote about the latest good young d-man to debut for AnaheimBrandon Montour, the 22-year-old that’s starred for AHL San Diego this year.

Some thought Montour’s time with the Ducks would be brief, given his recall coincided with Sami Vatanen falling ill. But Vatanen is back, and Montour is still around — rather than sending him back, Anaheim opted to send another good young d-man, ’13 first-rounder Shea Theodore, to the minors.


“We know [Theodore will] be back,” head coach Randy Carlyle said, per the O.C. Register. “It’s not a question of if, it’s just when. And it gives us an opportunity to take a longer look at Montour here, who was recalled. Given him a couple games so far, and we’ll have an opportunity for him to stay with our hockey club and practice with us.

“Kind of get more up to speed on where he’s at in his development.”

Montour played, albeit sparingly, in the first two games following his recall — 17:54 in his debut against Calgary, and 10:06 in a shootout loss to Vancouver. The 55th overall pick in ’14 was then scratched for Sunday’s win over Philly, so it’s not as if he’s ready for a full-time role with the Ducks.

But the fact Anaheim wants an extended look at Montour could be telling. As mentioned above, he’s one of several Ducks d-men that are 25 or younger, along with Theodore, Fowler, Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson. The latter three already established as full-time NHLers.

Beyond those, there’s also ’15 first-rounder Jacob Larsson (who made his NHL debut earlier this year) and Swedish blueliner Marcus Pettersson, who was taken 17 spots ahead of Montour in ’14.

Fowler’s name has been floated in trade rumors for a while. There was widespread speculation he’d be moved at the draft, to the point where even he expressed surprise that he wasn’t dealt.

“It’s been an interesting week or so, that’s for sure,” the 24-year-old Ducks defenseman told ESPN.com back in June. “You hear your name tossed out there. I’ve heard that before even at recent trade deadlines, but this time with the position the Ducks are in and some of the salaries, it just seemed like it was pretty real.

“I was 100 percent prepared for something to happen. And was honestly pretty surprised when it didn’t.”

Financially speaking, it seems inevitable Anaheim will have to eventually make some kind of move. The Ducks are pressed right up against the cap ceiling, and that’s with d-man Simon Despres‘ $3.7 million cap hit on LTIR (concussion). Don’t forget GM Bob Murray waived veteran blueliner Clayton Stoner earlier this year, he of the $13 million contract.

(Stoner is currently on IR following abdominal surgery.)

The big question, it seems, is if Anaheim will make a move by next month’s trade deadline. Because there are a number of teams looking for good young defensemen, even if the acquisition price is sky-high.

Just ask Peter Chiarelli.

Devils waive Boucher, one day after claiming him (and a month after waiving him the first time)

At first glance, it looks like the Devils are playing a cruel prank on Reid Boucher.

But rest assured, it’s not nefarious.

On Tuesday, the Devils placed Boucher on waivers, just 24 hours after claiming him from Nashville — and roughly one month after waiving him the first time (which is how he ended up with the Predators).

For the explanation, here’s NJ.com:

The Devils reclaimed the 23-year-old forward in hopes of sending him to Albany to get more playing time, but they were not the only team to claim Boucher on Monday. Had the Devils been the lone NHL team to claim him, he would have been eligible to go directly to the AHL.

But since another team put a claim in, Boucher needed to be added to the NHL roster, per CBA rules. The Devils put Boucher back on waivers Tuesday in another attempt to get him to Albany.

If he clears on Wednesday, Boucher will be be sent down. If another team claims Boucher, he’ll be out of New Jersey once again.

Boucher started the year in New Jersey and appeared in nine games, going goalless with a pair of assists.

He then scored one goal in three games with the Preds, notching five points in five games for their minor-league affiliate in Milwaukee.

That’s sort of been the story of Boucher’s professional career — a really good point producer at the American League level, but one that’s bounced in and out of NHL lineups.

That said, it’s not entirely surprising New Jersey wanted to get Boucher back in the fold — or that another team was interested in his services. He’s a guy, after all, that scored 62 goals in 68 games in his final year of junior, and did some good things for the Devils, including a ’15-16 campaign in which he scored 19 points in 39 games.