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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Report: O’Reilly out indefinitely following Christmas appendectomy (Updated)

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It’s been a disappointing season thus far in Buffalo, and the holidays weren’t much better.

Per a report from the Buffalo news, Sabres No. 1 center and fourth-leading scorer Ryan O'Reilly underwent an appendectomy on Dec. 25 and will be out of the lineup for an indefinite length of time.

Update: The Sabres have confirmed the report, adding there’s no timetable for his return.

The 25-year-old had been one of the few bright spots in the Sabres lineup to begin the year. He racked up seven goals and 11 assists through 27 games, but did miss extended time (six games) earlier this season with an oblique injury.

The injury appeared to hamper his on-ice performance. Since returning, O’Reilly has played 11 games and scored just a single goal.

As mentioned above, not much has gone right in Buffalo this season. Jack Eichel missed a boatload of time with a high ankle sprain, Evander Kane has struggled with injury and Tyler Ennis has only played in 12 games due to a hernia.

As such, the team has been erratic at best en route to posting an 12-13-8 record, which sent the Sabres into the holiday break sitting dead last in the Atlantic Division.

Given that O’Reilly plays over 21 minutes a night, he’s going to leave a huge hole in the lineup. Head coach Dan Bylsma will attempt to fill it starting tonight, when the Sabres host the Red Wings in their first game back from break.

Mark Scheifele is joining the ballet, and performing in the Nutcracker

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Mark Scheifele is headed to the big stage.

Well, sort of.

Scheifele, who leads the Jets in scoring and sits tied for 14th in the league with 31 points, will join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet later this month for a walk-on role in the performance of the Nutcracker, the club announced.

More:

Scheifele is among 17 chosen Winnipeggers for this year’s Nutcracker walk-on roles. Walk-on roles are a long-standing Nutcracker tradition at the RWB, one that dates back for over a decade.

Walk-on roles are typically reserved for Act 1’s famous Party Scene; however, Scheifele will also take part in the opening scene’s shinny hockey game on a frozen pond.

Scheifele’s performance will take place Friday, Dec. 30th at 7:00 pm at Centennial Concert Hall.

Scheifele, 23, has blossomed into one of the Jets’ biggest stars over the last calendar year. He had a terrific ’15-16 campaign, finishing with 29 goals and 61 points, and parlayed that into a huge extension this summer — an eight-year, $49 million contract with an average annual cap hit of $6.125 million.

This past fall, Scheifele also played on Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Merry Christmas from PHT

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On behalf of myself, Brough and all the ProHockeyTalk staffers — O’Brien, Tucker, Alfieri and Gretz — happy holidays to you and yours. We want to thank you for another year of reading, commenting and pointing out our errors on various social media platforms.

We’ve got some good Christmas-themed stuff on tap for today. Who in the NHL needs a hug from Santa? Who deserves a lump of coal? We also look at the MVP race thus far, and get a shot at revising our preseason Stanley Cup picks.

Hopefully you enjoy.

Thanks again for reading, engaging and visiting the site as often as you do.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

Downie blasts Tippett, Coyotes in lengthy Twitter rant

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Steve Downie, the well-traveled agitator who played in 26 games for Arizona last season, has taken to social media to carve his former club.

Via his Twitter account (@stevedownie23), Downie lit into the Coyotes and head coach Dave Tippett — among others — at one point saying that if he was an agent, “I would not let any of my players go anywhere near that team.”

Downie, 29, is currently without a club, having split last season between the Coyotes and their AHL affiliate. He was signed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal in free agency but was a healthy scratch on a number of occasions before getting waived.

Prior to that, had missed a fairly significant period of time with an upper-body injury.

In his rant, Downie took aim at a number of individuals, though the majority of the vitriol was directed at Tippett. Downie referred to his former head coach as an “idiot,” saying that Tippett and assistant coach Newell Brown were “running a great program down.”

Downie also alluded to Tippett’s (alleged) shoddy treatment of popular enforcer John Scott — who was traded from Arizona just prior to his improbable All-Star Game MVP win — and suggested the club was partly responsible for an injury suffered by AHLer Christian Thomas last season.

Here are screenshots of the entire rant:

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Following blowout loss to Leafs, Avs say Varlamov suffered another groin injury

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If it can go wrong for the Avalanche, it will.

The Avs, coming off a terrible 6-0 loss at home to the Maple Leafs last night, have announced that Semyon Varlamov will miss tonight’s game in Chicago with a groin injury, meaning Calvin Pickard will get the start.

AHL netminder Spencer Martin has been recalled from San Antonio, to serve as Pickard’s backup.

The Varlamov injury — which may have occurred while he was allowing five goals on 18 shots to Toronto — is just the latest blow for what’s steadily become the league’s worst team.

The Russian tender had been terrific in his last two starts prior to Thursday’s debacle — on Dec. 11, he made 51 saves in a 3-1 win over the Leafs and, on Tuesday, stopped 31 of 33 shots in a shutout loss to the Wild.

The 28-year-old Russian does have a history of groin problems. He missed three games earlier this month with a similar strain.

Colorado’s problems go well beyond injuries in goal, though. The team has been flat-out awful in December, losing nine of 11 contests while getting shut out three times and out-scored 42-18, which is staggering.

Related: The Avs often say discouraging things after they lose, and they lose a lot