Mike Halford

You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
Getty

Despite all the healthy scratches, Blues ‘have a lot of confidence’ in Yakupov

2 Comments

Nail Yakupov has been in the press box for seven of St. Louis’ last 12 games, and that’s expected to become eight in 13 when the Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.

That stat might have some wondering: Does GM Doug Armstrong regret acquiring Yakupov from Edmonton?

The answer: No. Not yet, anyway.

“I have a lot of confidence in Yak that he’s going to keep his nose to the grindstone and when he gets his opportunity, he’s just got to make the most of it,” Armstrong said, per the Post-Dispatch. “We look at it from how our team is doing, not how each individual player is doing, and our team is doing well. He’s part of our team.”

When in the lineup, Yakupov’s been fairly productive this season. He has two goals and five points through 16 games — averaging just a shade over 10 minutes per night — and there have been zero complaints about his effort, energy and attitude in the room.

In fact, everybody in St. Louis seems to be saying variations of the same thing. Yak’s a good guy, works hard, good player, etc. etc. It’s just really tough to crack the lineup right now (which is fair, given the Blues are No. 2 in the Western Conference standings and No. 4 in the league overall).

Armstrong also noted the club had no regrets about getting Yakupov out of Edmonton, noting the low price point (a third-round pick) and calling it a “worthwhile gamble.”

One has to think Armstrong made the Yakupov move in the event one of his core forwards gets hurt. Jaden Schwartz, Alex Steen and Patrik Berglund have all had injury problems over the last couple of years.

Anderson takes leave of absence from Sens as wife battles cancer

Getty
2 Comments

OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson has taken a leave of absence from the team as his wife battles a rare form of throat cancer.

The Senators announced the news on Twitter and said Anderson isn’t expected to be available for Ottawa’s game Thursday against visiting Philadelphia.

Nicholle Anderson has been diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a cancer that starts in the upper part of the throat behind the nose and near the base of skull.

She is undergoing treatment at the Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Mike Condon and the recently recalled Andrew Hammond will take on the goaltending duties in Anderson’s absence. Anderson is 12-5-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average this season.

Goalie nods: Murray looks for fourth straight win as Pens visit Brooklyn

Getty
1 Comment

Earlier this week, Pens GM Jim Rutherford admitted his club’s two-goalie system wasn’t working, especially for Marc-Andre Fleury.

But for Matt Murray, things appear to be fine.

Murray is an impressive 7-1-0 since returning from a hand injury suffered at the World Cup, with a 1.75 GAA and .939 save percentage. He’s won each of his last three starts, and will look for a fourth victory tonight when the Pens take on the Isles at Barclays (NBCSN, 8 p.m. ET).

Over his win streak, Murray has stopped 63 of 69 shots for a .913 save percentage. Not great numbers, but better than Fleury’s — after allowing six goals to Minnesota on Friday, his save percentage for the month fell to .889.

“Despite the fact I like having the two top goalies, it’s difficult when both goalies are used to playing the majority of the games,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Monday. “You get into weeks where they’re splitting and going every other game. That hasn’t worked, at this point, as well as I thought it would.”

For the Isles, Thomas Greiss is in goal. Like Pittsburgh, the Isles also have a crowded crease — but with three goalies (Greiss, Jaroslav Halak and J-F Berube) instead of two. This will be Greiss’ third straight start, having stopped 26 of 27 shots in a win over Calgary on Monday.

Elsewhere…

Chad Johnson returns to the starting role in Calgary, looking to build on a month of November in which he’s gone 6-3-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .930 save percentage. He’ll be up against Frederik Andersen, who beat the Oilers last night.

Martin Jones is in net for San Jose after stopping 19 shots in an OT win over Arizona on Monday. Peter Budaj, currently riding a five-game winning streak, is in for the Kings.

Landeskog’s injury situation gets murkier, placed on IR

Getty
1 Comment

So, here’s what we know about ailing Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog:

— On Tuesday, he missed his sixth straight game with a lower-body injury.

— Following Tuesday’s loss to Nashville, the Denver Post filed a story about Landeskog’s “cryptic” ailment, which included the following:

Listed with a lower-body injury, Landeskog’s recovery no longer includes skating, and Colorado typically requires its injured players to skate for a week before rejoining the lineup.

Landeskog was skating last week but was again held off the ice Tuesday morning at the Pepsi Center.

“We have to wait and see every day, how he feels and start progressing how he feels better,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Landeskog. “If he doesn’t feel better, we’re leaving him out. It’s too early in the season (and) something we don’t want to play with.”

— On Wednesday, the Post’s Terry Frei reported that Landeskog was headed to injured reserve, albeit retroactively. Bednar didn’t offer any update other than to re-confirm it’s a lower-body injury, though he did say the club was “exploring” a recall from the AHL.

Hmm.

Landeskog is a crucial element for the Avs, so it’s no surprise his absence has coincided with the club going 2-3-1 over its last six. The team’s leader and captain since 2012, he’s also one of the individuals head coach Jared Bednar would probably lean on to snap the Avs out of their recent funk.

But, alas, Landeskog isn’t there.

Landeskog also isn’t skating and, as mentioned above, Colorado’s policy is generally for injured players to skate for at least a week before returning to game action.

The Avs have home games on Thursday (versus Columbus) and Saturday (versus Dallas) before heading out on a four-game road trip through Nashville, Boston, Montreal and Toronto.

Brian Burke goes full Brian Burke in shooting down Hamilton trade rumors

AP
7 Comments

Rumblings of Calgary potentially moving young d-man Dougie Hamilton were seemingly silenced on Wednesday, when GM Brad Treliving told Fan 960’s Pat Steinberg the rumors were “completely false.”

Team president Brian Burke also addressed the reports. He was, ahem, a little more verbose on the matter.

“It’s very frustrating when you have to deal with leaks,” Burke told TSN 1050. “As soon as one of the team that’s in the mix with the leaks is the Toronto Maple Leafs — now, it’s an army of leakers. An army of people that have no goddamn idea what they’re talking about, who’ll happily go on and say the Toronto Maple Leafs are in on this, and doing that.

“This is one where we think we can trace the leak. [GM Brad Treliving] got a call from a team — who shall remain nameless, at least for now, if this goes on much further I’m probably not going to remain them nameless — and said ‘would you move Dougie Hamilton?’ And [Treliving] said no.”

OK then!

Hamilton’s name has been making the rounds lately, which included reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger and Bob McKenzie. It’s believed one of the most interested suitors was, as mentioned, the Toronto Maple Leafs, in a deal that would (theoretically) help both teams — Toronto would get some much-needed help on the blueline, and Calgary would receive a winger, potentially one that could play on the top line alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

(Once Gaudreau returns from injury, that is.)

It’s been speculated that James van Riemsdyk could be a fit in the proposed trade.

As for Hamilton, this is the latest in what’s been an up-and-down transition since being acquired from Boston two years ago. Though his offense production in ’15-16 was impressive — 12 goals and 43 points, making him one of the top-25 d-man scorers in the league — there have been questions about his defensive play, and usage.

Hamilton makes a lot of money. The Flames gave him a six-year, $34.5 million extension — one that carries a $5.75 million cap hit — but he averaged less than 20 minutes per game last season, and that’s continued this year (19:17 TOI, down from 19:46 in his first season with Calgary).

That said, Burke remained fully committed to his 23-year-old blueliner.

Fully.

“He’s 6-foot-5, 237 pounds, he’s a right shot, skates like a deer — he’s a good hockey player. Yeah, let’s move him! Let’s get rid of him. It’s not hard to get guys like that,” Burke said. “We told this team — and by the way, the offer they made was insulting — we told them not we’re not moving him and next time you have an idea that stupid, just save the quarter.

“Don’t go to the payphone.”