Mike Halford

Jacob Markstrom

Backup plan: Canucks recall Markstrom from conditioning assignment


The Vancouver Canucks finally have their No. 2 goalie back.

Jacob Markstrom, who’s yet to play this season after suffering a hamstring injury on Oct. 6, has been recalled from his conditioning assignment with AHL Utica, the Canucks announced on Monday.

In a corresponding move, the team sent down No. 3 netminder Richard Bachman to the Comets.

Markstrom, 25, posted a record of 1-0-1, a 2.40 GAA, and a .909 save percentage during his brief stint in the American League.

There’s no doubt the Canucks are glad to get him back.

With Markstrom sidelined, the club has been forced to rely on Ryan Miller heavily in the early stages of the year, playing Bachman just once. As a result, the 35-year-old Miller currently leads the NHL in games played (14), games started (14), minutes played (851:38, the only goalie over 800) and shots faced (387).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Miller has sagged a bit recently. Here’s a look at his last five games played, including a back-to-back set this weekend in Buffalo and New Jersey:


As for when Markstrom might make his season debut? The Canucks have five more games left on their current, and lengthy, seven-game road swing: Tuesday in Columbus, Thursday in Ottawa, Saturday in Toronto, Monday, Nov. 16 in Montreal and Wednesday, Nov. 18 in Winnipeg.

Jackets send Rychel back down to AHL… again

Thomas Greiss, Kerby Rychel
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Kerby Rychel is the human elevator.

On Friday, Rychel made yet another trip to the club’s AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, just two days after being recalled. It was the latest transaction in what’s been a steady stream of them:

— On Oct. 3, Rychel was cut from Columbus’ training camp and dispatched to the minors.

— On Oct. 16, he was recalled.

— That same day, he was sent back down.

— Then he got called back up.

— On Oct. 17, he made his season debut for the Jackets, logging 9:18 of ice time.

— On Oct. 20, he was sent back down as Alexander Wenneberg was activated off IR.

— On Nov. 4 he came back up, as David Clarkson went on IR.

— On Nov. 6, he went back down.

It’s important to remember a few things here.

One, Rychel is still only 21 years old.

Two, Columbus and Lake Erie are very close, so moving him between organizations isn’t that difficult.

Three, he was the club’s first-round pick (19th overall) in 2013, and reportedly still held in high regard.

Four, and perhaps most importantly, he’s performed extremely well for Lake Erie this season, with 10 points in six games, and is tied for 13th in American League scoring.

He just happens to travel a lot, is all.

Habs unveil ’16 Winter Classic jerseys


On Friday, Montreal released the sweaters it’ll be wearing for the 2016 Winter Classic, to be played against Boston on Jan. 1 at Gillette Stadium.

From the club:

The chest stripe is a shade of blue inspired by the first-ever Canadiens jersey worn after their founding in 1909. The central crest features a “CH” with colors inverted from what has been the norm for 90 years. The “C” is white and the “H” is red, as they were in 1923-24, the season the team won its first Stanley Cup championship as part of the NHL.

An image of a globe on the sleeve borrows from the “World Champions” design worn by Montreal the following season to celebrate its championship, a season where the franchise also began its longstanding rivalry with the newly-founded Bruins, then playing in their inaugural campaign.

The jersey also features a distinctive red collar originally is reminiscent of that worn in 1945-46, a season that culminated in the Canadiens, led by the “Punch Line” of Maurice Richard, Hector “Toe” Blake, and Elmer Lach, defeating Boston to earn their sixth Stanley Cup Championship.

“We wanted to underline and pay homage to our earliest meetings with our hosts,” Habs VP and COO Kevin Gilmore said in a statement. “Fans who tune into the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will come from not only our two respective markets, but from around North America and the world.

“We look forward to sharing with them, through the story behind this new sweater, a look into what has helped shape unquestionably one of the most preeminent and storied rivalries in all of professional sports.”

Montreal won’t wear the jerseys prior to the Winter Classic, opting rather to debut them on Jan. 1.

B’s recall AHL goals leader Vatrano, Koko sent packing

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins

The Bruins are swapping out one young forward prospect for another.

Frankie Vatrano, the AHL’s reigning rookie of the month and leading goalscorer with 10 in 10 games, has been recalled from Providence — and to make room for him, Boston has sent back talented Russian forward Alexander Khokhlachev.

Khokhlachev, 22, was recalled earlier this week and appeared in two games, going pointless with three shots on goal and two PIM, averaging around 14:30 per night.

Thrown into a pretty good position — he was replacing David Pastrnak on the David KrejciLoui Eriksson line — “Koko” failed to generate much offense at the NHL level. This latest demotion probably won’t be a welcome development, as he’s previously voiced his displeasure about languishing in the American League and not getting a real shot with the B’s.

In that light, it’ll be interesting to see what Vatrano can do in Boston.

An undersized guy with a fire hydrant build — 5-foot-9, 201 pounds — Vatrano, 21, signed with Boston last year as an undrafted free agent, on the heels of an 18-goal, 28-point season at UMass-Amherst.

After four-game absence, Getzlaf (appendectomy) back for Ducks

Ryan Getzlaf
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For the first time all season, things are starting to go Anaheim’s way.

Ryan Getzlaf, who’s missed the last four games to an appendectomy, will make his return to the Ducks lineup tonight when they take on the Blue Jackets at the Honda Center.

“I don’t think I’ve ever come back in a game where I wasn’t ready to play,” Getzlaf said, per the team’s Twitter. I don’t expect to be limited. I just want to go play.”

It’s a big get for the Ducks, who return their captain while riding their first two-game winning streak of the season.

Getzlaf manned his usual top-line center position at Friday’s morning skate, rushing alongside usual running mate Corey Perry. Perry, of course, snapped a terrible scoring drought in Wednesday’s 3-2 shootout win over Florida, snapping an 11-game goalless drought to begin the campaign.

In related Ducks news, forward Rickard Rakell — who’s been one of the team’s better scorers this year, with two goals and four points — is sidelined with an upper-body injury and won’t play tonight. Anaheim called up Harry Zolnierczyk from AHL San Diego to fill the roster spot.