You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
As we inch closer to the start of the World Cup of Hockey, No. 1 goalie gigs are beginning to come into focus.
Like the battle between Finnish netminders Pekka Rinne and Tuukka Rask, for example.
Tonight, Rinne will start versus the U.S. and is slated to play the entire contest, per NHL.com. It will be Rinne’s second nod of the exhibition campaign — after going the distance in a 3-2 OT win over Sweden — and comes after Rask allowed five goals on 28 shots in a 6-3 loss to the Swedes on Saturday.
So, reading the tea leaves, it sure looks like Rinne is Finland’s No. 1.
The Preds netminder looked reasonably sharp in his first outing, stopping 18 of 20 shots, and made a very nice save on Anton Stralman.
Rask, conversely, looked average at best in his audition for the starting gig.
All this said, the door is probably wide open for Rask to get some action in this tournament. The Finns open with a difficult game against the high-flying North American squad on Sunday and, if “TNA” has shown anything thus far, it’s an ability to find the back of the net — and chase netminders.
The Americans will play their final World Cup exhibition contest tonight — hosting Team Finland in Washington — and head coach John Tortorella made a couple of noteworthy decisions prior to the game.
First, Jonathan Quick will resume starting duties after Cory Schneider and Ben Bishop faced Canada in a loss on Saturday.
Quick, who was brilliant in an earlier win over the Canadians last week, might not go the whole way — Ben Bishop could see action later in the contest — but has the “inside track” on being the No. 1 goalie come tournament time, Tortorella said (per AP).
The U.S. opens World Cup play on Saturday, with a game against Team Europe.
Tortorella’s other big decision on Tuesday came in the form of Big Buff — Dustin Byfuglien, the hulking Jets d-man, who will skate as a forward against the Finns.
Per this morning’s line rushes, Byfuglien will skate on what looks to be a bruising line with David Backes and Justin Abdelkader. Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Dubinsky will be the scratches, giving Tortorella a chance to see what a six-man D unit of John Carlson, Ryan McDonagh, Ryan Suter, Matt Niskanen, Erik Johnson and Jack Johnson.
It’ll be interesting to see how Byfuglien reacts to the move back to forward. He platooned there earlier in his career but, after making the All-Star Game last season as a blueliner, he said he couldn’t see himself going back up front.
The Senators’ blueline isn’t especially deep, so it came as little surprise on Monday that GM Pierre Dorion said he wanted to add some competition at the position.
“On the back end, I’d like it to be a healthy competition for roster spots so either we’re still looking at bring someone on a PTO,” Dorion said, per the Ottawa Sun. “Or, at this point in time, maybe something more depending on what players are looking for.”
According to the Sun, the Sens have “kicked tires” on arguably the two biggest UFA defensemen left on the market — Dennis Seidenberg and Kris Russell.
But they might not land in the Canadian capital.
Seidenberg reportedly wants a contract prior to training camp, not a professional tryout. One would have to assume the same goes for Russell, who at one point was rumored to be in line for a major payday.
At current glance, Ottawa is rolling with Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Marc Methot, Cody Ceci, Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman and Fredrik Claesson as its seven defensemen for the year. The trouble spots, obviously, would be the bottom two — Wideman, a quality producer at the AHL level, is just 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds with only 64 games of NHL experience.
Claesson, 23, has even less experience, having only appeared in 16 career contests.
Sin City has hockey fever.
Just weeks after officially scoring an expansion NHL franchise, Las Vegas has announced it will open a USA Hockey store at the Fashion Show mall on the Strip, “one of the most sought-after retail destinations in the United States.”
More, from USA Hockey:
The store, operated by Redline Hockey, will be located on the west side of the second floor at space 2590 near Dillard’s and will feature the latest USA Hockey merchandise, U.S. Olympic Team-branded items, National Hockey League apparel and other unique hockey-related products. The grand opening is set for Saturday, Oct. 1.
“We are very pleased to extend our relationship with USA Hockey,” said Matt Nyman, president and chief executive officer of Redline Hockey. “Because of the interest in the sport of hockey created by the announcement of the new Las Vegas NHL franchise, we feel this is a great location for a USA Hockey Store.”
The first USA Hockey Store opened in Lake Placid, N.Y., in 2011.
Chris Porter, who made his Blues debut eight years ago and appeared in nearly 200 games with the club, is headed back to St. Louis on a training camp tryout, per the Star-Tribune and Fox Sports Midwest.
The 32-year-old had a whirlwind ’15-16 campaign. After he and the Blues were eliminated in the opening playoff round, Porter left and signed a one-year deal with Philly, but never played a single game for the Flyers.
Minnesota claimed him off waivers just prior to the start of the regular season, reuniting him with good buddy (and former UND teammate) Zach Parise.
With the Wild, Porter had a fairly effective campaign in a defensive forward/checking role — four goals and seven points in 61 games, appearing in all six of Minnesota’s opening-round playoff games.
Porter is just one of several veterans going to Blues camp this fall on a PTO. Others include Eric Nystrom, Mike Weber, T.J. Galiardi and Yan Stastny.
This is a familiar move from St. Louis GM Doug Armstrong. Last year, veterans Scott Gomez and Scottie Upshall both came to camp on a tryout basis, and both ended up scoring contracts.