You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
The Lightning have worked in a few of their young prospects already this season — like Brayden Point, Slater Koekkoek and Joel Vermin — and tonight, they’ll add another to the list in Tanner Richard.
Richard will make his NHL debut tonight when the slumping Bolts take on the Wings in what should be a testy affair, given 1) Tampa Bay’s recent slide, and 2) the fact these two have met recently in the playoffs, where things have gotten ugly.
It’s little Richard, the 71st overall pick in 2012, is drawing in for the Detroit game.
“I’m pretty hated by most teams in the AHL,” Richard said, per the Bolts website. “So that tells me I’m doing an alright job being a little rat.”
The 23-year-old might’ve made his name as an agitator, but has show some serious offensive upside this season. Richard sits fourth in Syracuse in scoring, with 17 points through 22 games, and is being counted on to provide a lift a Lightning team that’s just 2-7-2 over its last 11 games.
“He deserves this opportunity,” Bolts head coach Jon Cooper said, per the club’s Twitter account. “He competes, and he’ll go to those dirty areas.”
Ottawa could have yet another in the goalie mix when it plays in Chicago tonight.
Matt O’Connor, the former Boston University standout that’s been plying his trade in the American League, could be backing up Mike Condon this evening after getting recalled from Binghamton.
O’Connor, 24, was a prized undrafted free agent coming out of BU, but has only appeared in one game for the Sens at NHL level thus far. His professional career has been spent almost exclusively in Bingo, where he’s struggled to find consistent form.
That said, Ottawa doesn’t have many options at the moment.
No. 1 Craig Anderson is away from the team while his wife goes through cancer treatment. Andrew Hammond can’t stay healthy — he made just his third start of the season on Sunday against the Isles, got hurt, and was unable to finish — which means Mike Condon has become the club’s new starting netminder.
In a weird twist, Condon and O’Connor actually faced each other at the beginning of last season, when the former was with the Habs and the latter got a surprise start from then-head coach Dave Cameron.
Four days ago, we wrote about how Rick Nash recovered from a groin injury and rejoined the Rangers.
Now, a new problem.
Same injury, different area.
After playing just 37 seconds of New York’s shootout win over the Devils on Sunday, Nash has reportedly been diagnosed with another groin strain, per the Post. It’s believed the injury occurred during the overtime session, but is on the other side from the original ailment.
That initial one, suffered in a Dec. 6 loss to the Isles, wasn’t especially severe — but was the first groin strain of his career.
“I was turning on the backcheck, took one bad stride and heard it pop,” Nash explained at the time, also per the Post. “After I went through the testing, the doctor called me and said, ‘If you’re going to have this, it’s the best place it could be.’ ”
Nash was second on the Rangers in goals (with 11) at the time of his injury, then scored twice in his first two games back to move into a tie with Michael Grabner for the team lead. Throughout this year he’s been an important trigger man for one of the NHL’s best offenses, which is why this latest setback could prove costly.
There is no clear timeframe for Nash’s return to action. If there is a silver lining here, it’s the schedule — thanks to the holiday break, the Blueshirts play just three times in the next nine nights: Tuesday against Pittsburgh, Friday against Minnesota, then Dec. 27 against Ottawa.
Last week, we wrote about Calgary keeping Brian Elliott in the “resetting” phase as Chad Johnson continued to pile up starts in goal.
Now the reset is over.
Elliott will make his first start in three weeks tonight, when the Flames take on the Coyotes in Arizona. Elliott did get some game action in relief of Johnson last week — stopped 12 of 13 shots in a 6-3 loss to Tampa Bay — but hasn’t actually started a game since Nov. 28, a 2-1 OT loss to the Islanders.
This nod comes with Johnson having come back to earth recently. After getting the hook against the Isles (four goals on 21 shots), he then allowed four goals on 29 shots in Friday’s loss to the visiting Blue Jackets.
It was assumed Elliott would eventually get another shot at the starting gig in Calgary, and this could be the start of it.
For the Coyotes, Mike Smith is in goal.
— After Juuse Saros started on Saturday, Pekka Rinne is back in goal for the Preds. He’ll be up against Steve Mason, who continues to be a workhorse for the Flyers.
— Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek continue to alternate starts for Detroit, and tonight it’ll be Howard’s turn as the Wings visit Carolina. Cam Ward starts for the ‘Canes, who welcomed Eddie Lack back into the fold after he’d been sidelined with a concussion.
— Frederik Andersen will face his former team, the Ducks, for the first time tonight as Anaheim takes on Toronto. Andersen will go up John Gibson.
— Jake Allen hasn’t played well lately, and was hooked on the weekend against Nashville. As such, Carter Hutton gets a crack with a start against the visiting Oilers. Edmonton will go with Cam Talbot, who stopped 31 of 33 shots against Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Philly will host Nashville tonight at Wells Fargo, but Dale Weise won’t be part of the proceedings.
Weise, in the first of a four-year, $9.4 million contract with the Flyers, will be a healthy scratch this evening, per Philly.com. The decision comes after the 28-year-old received less than 10 minutes in three of his last five games, including a season-low 8:17 in last Saturday’s 4-2 win over Dallas.
It’s been a tough season for Weise overall.
He went pointless in his first four games, then received a three-game suspension for a headshot on Anaheim’s Korbinian Holzer. Upon drawing back in, it took him an awfully long time to score his first goal — coming on Nov. 22 — and, after scoring again the following night, has now gone 12 straight games without scoring a point.
All told, Weise has just two goals and four points through 29 games this year.