Mike Halford

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders prepares to play against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Barclays Center on October 9, 2015 in Brooklyn borough of New York City. The game is the first for the Islanders in their new arena. The Blackhawks defeated the Islanders 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Is there a goalie controversy brewing in Brooklyn?


With yesterday’s win over the Red Wings, Thomas Greiss pushed his record to a sparking 16-6-2 on the year, with a .931 save percentage and 2.16 GAA — pretty good for a backup netminder making just $1.5 million this season.

Of course, Greiss might not be the backup for long.

From the New York Post:

[Isles head coach Jack] Capuano has been adamant he is going to use the players he deems are playing best, and there’s no question Greiss has outplayed [Jaroslav] Halak recently.

This was Greiss’ third start in the past five games, having given up four goals on 90 shots in that span. Halak got torched for six goals on 25 shots on Saturday in Carolina during a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes. In his previous five starts, Halak has a .850 save percentage and 4.26 goals-against average, and in his 10 starts since returning from injury back on Jan. 7, Halak has a .896 and 3.12.

“When you have a hot goalie and he’s playing well, you want to play him,” Capuano said.

Greiss, 30, has been one of GM Garth Snow’s savviest acquisitions. Signed to a two-year, $3 million deal this past summer with little fanfare, the German ‘tender has become arguably the NHL’s best backup and given the organization the kind of goaltending depth it hasn’t seen in ages.

Third-stringer J-F Berube has been one of the AHL’s top netminders over the last few seasons, and the club could really have something in ’14 draftee Ilya Sorokin, a 20-year-old that’s currently lighting up the KHL.

But the real story in Brooklyn is this year’s playoffs, and if Capuano will have a decision on his hands by early April.

Right now, it’s tough to envision Halak not starting in the playoffs. He has 30 games of postseason experience to Greiss’ one, and was very good during the Isles’ opening-round loss to the Caps last spring, finishing with a .926 save percentage and 2.30 GAA.

That said, it’s going to be hard for Capuano to keep Greiss out of the net, especially if he continues playing this well.

Gaborik out ‘long term, for sure,’ but Kings hopeful for playoff return

Los Angeles Kings' Marian Gaborik celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

The latest update on Marian Gaborik‘s apparent knee injury could have a big effect on Los Angeles’ trade deadline plans.

On Monday, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter told the L.A. Times that Gaborik is going to be out of action “long term, for sure,” adding the club is hopeful the veteran winger could be back for the postseason.

Gaborik, 34, was hurt in a collision against the Rangers on Friday, exiting the game in the first period without putting any weight on what appeared to be an injured left knee. He was placed on IR shortly thereafter.

His injury comes at a really tough time. After starting the season slowly, Gaborik had been playing well of late and had four points in the five games prior to getting hurt.

All told, he has 12 goals and 22 points in 54 games this season, while averaging just under 15 minutes per night.

As mentioned above, the Kings will probably look to replace Gaborik’s production by the Feb. 29 trade deadline. He was the fifth-leading goalscorer on the team at the time of his injury and has a wealth of playoff experience — during L.A.’s Stanley Cup championship in ’14, he scored 14 times in 28 games and finished with 22 points.

After 40-game absence, Orpik back for Caps tonight

Brooks Orpik
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In a season where nearly everything has gone right, Washington’s lone blemishes this season have been long-term injuries to Jay Beagle and Brooks Orpik.

Tonight, the Orpik blemish gets cleared up.

The veteran defenseman will return after missing the last 40 games with a lower-body injury when the Caps host the Kings at Verizon, Orpik confirmed. It’ll be the rugged defenseman’s first game since November 10, in which he exited a 1-0 loss to Detroit after just 6:49 of ice time.

In Orpik’s absence, the Caps have gone 30-6-4.

For his comeback, it looks as though Orpik will play on a pairing with Dmitry Orlov, meaning Taylor Chorney will come out of the lineup.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of impact Orpik will have.

He was averaging 19:15 TOI through the first 14 games this season, coming off a ’14-15 campaign in which he played 21:48 per night (and that TOI average went up to 22:17 in the playoffs).

His physical, robust style has always been a favorite of head coach Barry Trotz — “the things that Brooks Orpik does, you can’t put a value on,” Trotz said when Washington signed Orpik to a $27.5 million deal two summers ago — and the return could adjust GM Brian MacLellan’s strategy at the trade deadline, though it’s likely he’d still want to add defensive depth.

Jackets ‘not looking to tear this thing down’ at trade deadline

SUNRISE, FL - JUNE 26:  (l-r) John Davidson and Jarmo Kekäläinen of the Columbus Blue Jackets attend the 2015 NHL Draft at BB&T Center on June 26, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets will most certainly be sellers by the Feb. 29 trade deadline, but with a catch.

They might not have much to sell.

“We’re not looking to tear this thing down,” president of hockey ops John Davidson said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Are you kidding? We have some pieces in place. These guys are going to play every game to win.

“That’s just in their DNA and the coaches’ DNA to win every game they play.”

(To Davidson’s point, the Jackets are 8-3-2 in their last 13, at a time where losing games — and increasing draft lottery chances — could be seen as more beneficial than winning.)

If teams are looking to pluck some players out of Columbus, they’ll likely have to settle on peripheral parts rather than core individuals.

The likes of Scott Hartnell and Fedor Tyutin are rumored to be available — Tyutin is believed to be on Detroit’s radar — while pending UFAs Rene Bourque and Justin Falk, both essentially spare parts, could presumably be had for a song.

But Davidson shot down the notion of moving a bigger-ticket guy, saying “there’s no change in the plan.”

“We’re not giving up our future,” he explained. “No chance, unless it just makes a ton of sense.”

Jackets starting to get healthy in goal, activate McElhinney

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Things could get pretty interesting in the Columbus crease over the next few weeks.

The Jackets, having ridden the AHL tandem of Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg over the last while, activated veteran backup Curtis McElhinney on Monday and sent Forsberg down to the minors.

Tomorrow, McElhinney will dress for the first time in 17 games, and serve as Korpisalo’s backup against the Bruins. While we’re hesitant to call this situation “interesting,” it is one to watch as Korpisalo may have worked his way into a longer look at the NHL level.

The Young Finn netminder has gone 4-0-1 over his last five games and, since being thrust into the staring gig, has performed admirably well, posting a .922 save percentage on the season.

Right now it remains to be seen when No. 1 Sergei Bobrovsky will return from his recurring groin issue, so Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella could be faced with a decision — go with McElhinney, who’s got far more NHL experience and was signed to be the No. 2, or stick with Korpisalo, who’s played a prominent role in the nice little run Columbus is on right now (6-1-1 in its last eight).