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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‘Pretty confident’ Kronwall (knee) to make season debut

Detroit will have one of its most familiar faces in the lineup for the first time this year when they take on the Jets at Joe Louis tonight.

Niklas Kronwall, who missed the first 11 games of the season due to a knee injury, will make his season debut.

“I feel pretty confident,” Kronwall said, per MLive. “I had a good test here Tuesday in a full practice and felt pretty good. I shouldn’t have any limitations out there at all.”

Kronwall, 35, is a pretty important cog in Detroit’s defense. Despite dealing with injuries last year, he still managed to dress for 64 games and average over 22 minutes a night — down from the career-high 24:22 he averaged a few years back, sure, but still quite a bit of ice time.

To further illustrate his importance to the Wings, Kronwall will play alongside Mike Green on the club’s top power play unit.

Detroit has done reasonably well in Kronwall’s absence this year, getting off to a 6-2-0 start before going 0-2-1 in its last three. Head coach Jeff Blashill did say the minutes will be managed to start — Kronwall hasn’t played an actual game in six months — but it’s clear just getting No. 55 back in the mix, period, will be a boost.

D-men Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul will be the scratches this evening.

Goalie nods: Bobrovsky rides again

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On Monday, Brough wrote about how Sergei Bobrovsky has been excellent — and busy — for the Blue Jackets this season.

Four days later, nothing has changed — Bobrovsky is still excellent, and he’s still really busy.

The Jackets will play their ninth game tonight against the visiting Canadiens and, for the ninth time, they’ll give Bob the start. The nod is well deserved — in his previous eight games, Bobrovsky’s posted a .941 save percentage, 2.02 GAA and a pair of shutouts, helping Columbus off to a respectable 4-3-1 start.

“Bob is in great shape,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said earlier this week. “He wants to play.”

Torts is certainly indulging him.

Sure, part of this stems from the club’s murky backup situation — Curtis McElhinney struggled last year, and Joonas Korpisalo‘s in the AHL after recovering from injury — but part of this is classic Torts. His reputation for riding his best players is well known, and it’s hard to say that anyone aside from Bobrovsky is Columbus’ MVP.

Sadly, we won’t get a marquee goalie matchup. Carey Price will get the night off, paving the way for Al Montoya to start for Montreal.

Elsewhere…

Petr Mrazek goes for Detroit, while the visiting Jets have yet to name a starter. Paul Maurice has been alternating starts between Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson lately, and Hutchinson played last night against Washington.

John Gibson was the first goalie off at Anaheim’s morning skate, so he looks likely. No word yet on a Coyotes starter, but Louis Domingue could go back-to-back after an impressive win against San Jose last night.

Another slow, inconsistent start has Ducks banging their heads against the wall

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Last year, the Ducks began the season 1-7-2. You may remember it.

This year, things are slightly better under new head coach Randy Carlyle, though not by much. Anaheim is 4-5-2, but displaying a penchant for following up quality wins with disheartening losses.

And it’s driving Carlyle nuts.

“That’s what we just banged our heads against the wall over,” he said following a 5-1 loss at home to Pittsburgh on Wednesday, per the L.A. Times. “Why, why, why? The answer to that isn’t at the tip of my tongue.

“I wish I had that answer for you. I’m sure they don’t feel very good about themselves.”

The Pittsburgh blowout came just one night after an emphatic 4-0 victory in the Freeway Faceoff against the Kings — in Los Angeles, no less. But whatever momentum the Ducks gained failed to translate over to Wednesday, as Carlyle said his team was “a step-and-a-half behind” the Pens.

It’s a recurring issue.

On Oct. 23, the Ducks won their home opener against the Canucks. That was followed up with a tough loss in San Jose — 2-1 in OT, so no shame there — which was followed by a really solid effort in a 6-1 thrashing of Nashville.

But after the Nashville game, Anaheim had a night to forget, losing 4-0 to the Blue Jackets at home.

There are extenuating circumstances at play, of course. Injuries have hit the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Ritchie and Jonathan Bernier, and Rickard Rakell only rejoined the team two games ago. Prized d-man Hampus Lindholm has still yet to suit up, though his return is coming soon.

Players have come and gone, too. Mayson Raymond. Emerson Etem. Jacob Larsson. Shea Theodore. All of which has played a big role in the club’s lack of consistency.

“It’s just a team still trying to find our identity a little bit,” Cam Fowler told the Times. “Trying to plug some different guys in, and see what kind of chemistry we can find.”

Of course, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

After surviving an October in which they played six of nine on the road, the Ducks will spent considerable time at Honda in the coming weeks. The end of November will be especially key, as they play six of seven at home against the Oilers, Devils, Kings, Islanders, ‘Hawks and Canadiens.

Slumping Avs waive Mitchell, another Roy favorite

Less than 24 hours after a deflating 4-0 loss in Chicago, the Avs shook up their roster by placing veteran forward John Mitchell on waivers.

Mitchell, 31, had only appeared in four games this year, going pointless while averaging just 9:20 TOI.

A favorite of former head coach Patrick Roy, Mitchell has been with the Avs for the last five seasons. The only forwards with longer tenure are Matt Duchene and captain Gabriel Landeskog.

At times, Mitchell played a key role among the Colorado forward group — like last year, when he scored 10 goals and 21 points in 71 games, averaging a healthy 15:15 a night.

Mitchell’s best campaign in Colorado came in ’13-14, when he scored a career-high 32 points in 75 games, playing over 16 per.

Today’s move might not make huge waves — Mitchell is in the last of a three-year, $5.4 million deal, and set to be a UFA on July 1 anyway — but it is somewhat telling, from the “moving-on-from-Roy” perspective.

This past offseason, GM Joe Sakic traded away another Roy favorite, Nick Holden, to the Rangers in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Roy liked Holden so much that he called Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault, telling Vigneault “you just got one of my better defensemen.”

Not long after that call, Roy resigned as Colorado’s head coach. Jared Bednar was hired shortly thereafter.

Of course, there may be more to the Mitchell situation.

He’s had a myriad of injuries during his time with the Avs, including a series of concussion problems. This year, he missed time to an “annoying and very tedious” hip ailment.

Habs say it’s ‘way too early’ for Radulov extension

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Alex Radulov‘s latest NHL return has gone swimmingly — three goals and eight points in 10 games thus far — and he’s played a big role in the club’s scintillating 9-0-1 start.

This, unsurprisingly, has some fans clamoring for Montreal to get him re-signed.

To that, GM Marc Bergevin has a message:

Relax.

“Way too early,” Bergevin said, per ESPN. “I remember when we traded for [Thomas] Vanek, and he really helped us get into the playoffs — he did — at the end it didn’t work out as well for him and us down the stretch. For the first month or so after we got him, some fans and media were saying, ‘Sign, sign, sign.’

Invoking Vanek’s name might seem like a huge powder keg, given how poorly his time in Montreal ended (see here and here and here).

But you can see where Bergevin’s coming from.

For starters, the Habs can’t sign Radulov — currently on a one-year, $5.75 million deal — to an extension until Jan. 1. That’s just under two months away. Plenty can transpire from now ’til then, like an injury or Radulov doing Radulov things.

Secondly, Bergevin has some other important deals on the horizon. Alex Galchenyuk is in the last year of his entry-level contract, as is Nathan Beaulieu. Decisions will also need to be make on a pair of tenured veteran UFAs — Andrei Markov and David Desharnais — and it’ll be interesting to see what the club does with backup netminder Al Montoya, who’s been a terrific addition thus far.

Add it all up, and it’s not surprising Bergevin is preaching restraint when it comes to Radulov.

“You’ve got to be patient,” he said. “There’s lots of time.”