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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‘Hawks sign OHL sniper DeBrincat to entry-level deal

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Alex DeBrincat, the prolific junior scorer picked 39th overall by Chicago at this year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the ‘Hawks announced on Monday.

DeBrincat, 18, was one of the most intriguing prospects in Buffalo this past June. On numbers alone, he ranked as one of the most dynamic offensive talents available — he posted back-to-back 51-goal seasons with OHL Erie in ’14-15 and ’15-16, eclipsing the 100-point plateau in each campaign.

So, why did he fall all the way to No. 39 overall?

Measurables, primarily.

At 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, he lacks traditional NHL size. Of course, it’s done little to hold him back at the junior level, where he’s already established himself as a decorated skater (he captured both OHL and CHL rookie of the year honors in his freshman campaign).

This year, DeBrincat leads the Ontario League with 17 goals and 35 points through 14 games. Yeah, fourteen games.

 

Slumping Wings put Vanek (hip) on long-term injured reserve

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Thomas Vanek‘s bright start in the Motor City has dimmed a bit.

On Monday, the Red Wings announced they’ve placed Vanek on long-term injured reserve retroactive to Oct. 25, and recalled Tyler Bertuzzi from AHL Grand Rapids. The retroactive designation means Vanek will be on LTIR for 10 games/24 days, minus the time already “served” — and he’s already “served” six games/13 days.

Per MLive, the earliest he can return is Nov. 18.

Vanek, currently dealing with a hip ailment, hasn’t played since a win over Carolina on the 25th, a game in which he scored his fourth goal of the season.

All told, the veteran winger had eight points through seven games as a Red Wing, and his scoring looked to be as dynamic as it was in the earlier parts of his career.

Which is why this injury is a tough break for Detroit.

The club is in a funk right now, having lost five straight after starting the year 6-2-0. Offense has been an issue — just nine goals scored during the losing skid — and, following Sunday’s 2-1 loss to the Oilers, Justin Abdelkader tried to pinpoint the club’s issues on offense.

“There are too many times where we are passing up shots and trying to take an extra pass,” Abdelkader said, per ESPN. “Sometimes, the best play in hockey is putting the puck on the net.”

On that note, worth pointing out that — despite his injury — Vanek still leads the Wings in goals.

 

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

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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.