Mike Halford

No hearing for Gudas after getting tossed for clipping

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Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing after clipping Montreal forward Lucas Lessio on Tuesday night, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Gudas was given a five-minute clipping major and game misconduct for the hit, one that drew the ire of Habs defenseman P.K. Subban.

“I thought it was low,” Subban said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. “I mean, when I saw the replay on the screen in front of the bench — I didn’t see it live — it looked like it was low. I don’t know the player personally but it seems like when you’re on the ice with him he’s the type of guy who will do stuff like that.”

“I don’t think it’s anything that reflects on their team. hey have guys that play the game hard and finish their checks, which you need to respect. But I don’t respect guys that do hits like that. You know what you’re doing in that situation, and I thought it was low.”

Gudas had run afoul of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety earlier this season, getting suspended three games for a hit to the head of Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad.

 

 

Trade deadline ‘will be a factor’ in sorting Buffalo’s crowded blueline

during the NHL game at Gila River Arena on January 18, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.
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Dan Bylsma does not like carrying eight healthy defensemen on his active roster.

Unfortunately for him, that’s where he’s at right now.

The eight, all now healthy, are Josh Gorges, Rasmus Ristolainen, Zach Bogosian, Mark Pysyk, Cody Franson, Jake McCabe, Mike Weber and Carlo Colaiacovo.

More on what Bylsma thinks of this, from the Buffalo News:

Bylsma has said several times this season he abhors having eight on his roster and the team would have to do something about the situation if it ever evolved.

“We’re there,” Bylsma said with a pained smile after practice Tuesday in First Niagara Center…

…”I’m not going to rotate or alternate guys. We’ll play the players that will give us the best chance to have success and win a hockey game.

“We’re a couple weeks away from the trade deadline as well and that will be a factor.”

Common sense suggests Weber or Colaiacovo could be on the move.

Weber, 28, has only appeared in 32 games this year, after playing 68 and 64 in the two seasons prior. While injuries have played a role — he missed a month with a knee injury — he’s a UFA at season’s end, and possibly not in the club’s long-term plans.

Hence his dwindling usage this year.

Colaiacovo has only played once in the last 22 games, and could be a cheap depth rental for a club looking to stockpile bodies on the blueline.

Related

Agent: No contract talks between Sabres and McGinn, who ‘loves Buffalo’

Report: Sabres ‘would listen’ to offers for Ennis

For Francis, trade deadline could be defining moment as ‘Canes GM

Ron Francis
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In April, Ron Francis will celebrate the second anniversary of his hiring as Carolina’s general manager.

But prior to that, he’ll have experienced what’s easily his biggest task to date.

This year’s trade deadline is a crucial one for both Francis and the organization. Two faces of the franchise — Cam Ward and captain Eric Staal — are pending UFAs, as are a slew of potentially movable veterans: Kris Versteeg, John-Michael Liles, Riley Nash and Brad Malone, to name a few.

But it’s not as simple as Francis putting a “YARD SALE” sign on the lawn and waiting for buyers.

Heading into tonight’s game in Calgary, Carolina is right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff chase, just three points back of Pittsburgh for the final wild card spot.

The ‘Canes also have an interesting month of February.

Starting Feb. 12, the club will play eight of 10 games at home, where the ‘Canes have been pretty good this season. They’re 12-9-5 at PNC and have won their last two home dates emphatically, 5-2 over Calgary and 5-0 over Chicago.

MORE: The Carolina Hurricanes are legitimately quite good

So Francis has a tough decision on his hands. Stick with the long-term vision, and recoup assets/draft picks by flipping UFAs by the deadline?

Or keep the group together, and make a playoff push?

Here’s a quick look at where things are at with some of the players mentioned above.

Staal/Ward: Both represented by agent Rick Curran, who told the Raleigh News & Observer this week there’s “nothing new to report” on extensions for both.

Of Ward and Staal, the latter is the hottest commodity in terms of trade potential, but he told the News & Observer Francis has yet to approach him about waiving his no-trade clause, nor has Francis asked for a list of potential trade partners.

Versteeg: An interesting commodity. While he’s not the player he once was, he’s still in the midst of a solid bounce-back campaign (31 points in 50 games) and has a wealth of playoff experience, with two Stanley Cups on his resume.

The real key, of course, is that Versteeg’s $4.4 million cap hit has been cut in half due to Chicago retaining salary from a previous trade.

It stands to figure several teams would be interested in a versatile forward that logs 16:30 TOI per night and can score at a reasonable clip — especially at a $2.2M hit.

Recently, Versteeg said he “would not be shocked” if he’s traded by the deadline.

Liles: His name was floated by the News & Observer earlier this week. The veteran defenseman has enjoyed a good season in Carolina — he’s been durable (averaging over 20 minutes while appearing in all 51 games) and his offense has increased lately, with four goals in his last 11 games.

Head coach Bill Peters was full of praise for the 35-year-old, calling Liles “a real good pro,” that’s been “excellent with our young guys.”

Liles is in the last of a four-year, $15.5 million deal with a $3.875M cap hit. It’s worth noting his salary is only $2.75M this season.

Related: ‘Canes compare Faulk to Duncan Keith, talk up Norris potential

NHL on NBCSN: Wings visit Lightning in Atlantic Division showdown

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Detroit will look for its third win of the season tonight against Tampa Bay at Amalie, and you can catch all the action on NBCSN starting at 8 p.m. ET.

If you’re looking for another viewing option, you can catch the game online using NBC Sports’s Live Extra:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE ONLINE

The Wings and Lightning come into tonight’s action tied on 58 points, though Tampa has the edge on second place in the Atlantic thanks to the ROW tiebreaker (25 to Detroit’s 24).

Tonight is the first of Florida back-to-backs for the Red Wings, as they’ll travel to Sunrise tomorrow to take on the Panthers.

Head coach Jeff Blashill will give Petr Mrazek the start this evening and could go back to him on Thursday, as Mrazek has emerged as one of the NHL’s top netminders this season and thrust himself into the Vezina conversation.

For the Bolts, no starter’s been named yet but it’s expected Ben Bishop, fresh off a solid All-Star outing in Nashville, will go in goal.

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

Martin Brodeur believes Lightning’s Bishop is an elite goalie

Stamkos won’t deny it — contract situation’s ‘in your head, for sure’

Datsyuk calls on Wings for more offense — ‘it would be a much easier game’

Larkin wins fastest skater, breaks Gartner’s 20-year-old record

Little-used Galiev to replace Ovi on Caps’ top line tonight

Stanislav Galiev
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Tuesday night could be a big one for Stanislav Galiev.

Galiev, the skilled Russian winger that’s only appeared in 13 games this year, will replace the “suspended” Alex Ovechkin on Washington’s top line tonight — next to Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie — when the Caps host the Panthers at Verizon.

(Ovechkin’s “suspension” is the one game he’s forced to sit out after missing he 2016 NHL All-Star weekend in Nashville.)

For the 24-year-old Galiev, this is a pretty huge moment.

He’s been “stuck” in the NHL for most of this year because of his contractual situation — since he’s no longer exempt from waivers, the Caps are loathe to try and pass him through, for fear of a team making a claim. But clearing waivers is the only way Galiev could get down to AHL Hershey, which would undoubtedly serve his development better than eating popcorn in the press box on a near-nightly basis.

Galiev did get to play five games for the Bears earlier this year but, because he was there on a conditioning assignment, he couldn’t stay longer than two weeks.

As for tonight?

Caps head coach Barry Trotz figured he should give Galiev a run with two talented offensive players, a decision that was also swayed by not wanting to break up the chemistry of other lines.

“He’ll have some fresh legs, obviously,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “I have a sort of secondary plan. I don’t want to break up every line just because we’re missing two guys. I’d like to just sort of keep as much as I can in control, and then I sort of have a secondary plan for lines, so we’ll just sort of feel it out and see who’s going. There might be lots of changes on the lines, or they might not.”