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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San Jose’s power play was bad all year, now it’s proving costly

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The Sharks were the NHL’s third-best team with the man advantage last year, and they carried that over to the playoffs by scoring at a 24 percent clip.

This year, same story.

Sorta.

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San Jose has certainly carried its regular-season PP over to the postseason — only it’s been lousy, not stellar. The Sharks finished 25th in the NHL this year with a 16.7 percent success rate, and are now 1-for-14 through three games against the Oilers.

In Sunday’s 1-0 Game 3 loss, San Jose had two chances with the man advantage. It didn’t score, which makes sense because it wasn’t credited with a single shot on goal.

“You’ve got to shoot the puck,” Logan Couture said, per NBC Sports California. “You’ve got to score some goals. We know that. Obviously that’s been a concern for us all season, our power play hasn’t been where we need it to be.

“We need it to be better. It’s simple to say, it’s easy to say, but we’ve got to be better.”

It’s puzzling why the unit is so bad. All the guys that made last year’s PP so dynamic are still there — Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Brent Burns — but the production isn’t. Last year, the Pavelski-Marleau-Thornton trio combined for 31 PPG.

This year? Just 16.

Head coach Peter DeBoer suggested the group wasn’t “hungry enough” and got outworked, and some of that surely has to do with the Oilers.

Edmonton was a good penalty killing team at home during the regular season — 82.3 percent at Rogers Place — and that carried over to Games 1 and 2, when the Oilers surrendered just one PPG on 12 opportunities. They also got a massive shorthanded goal from Zack Kassian, and have started using captain Connor McDavid more and more on the PK.

After averaging just 48 seconds of shorthanded ice time during the regular season, McDavid is up to 1:57 per in the playoffs.

“He can skate, he’s got great instincts,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said of McDavid on the kill, per TSN. “His stamina is second to none. Those are all pretty good qualities for a penalty killer.”

Zaitsev in for Game 3, a big boost for Toronto

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The Leafs received some discouraging news on Saturday night in the aftermath of their thrilling OT win over Washington, when it was announced that Roman Polak was done for the year with a lower-body injury.

On Monday, some much better news.

Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev, who missed the opening two games of the series to injury, has been declared fit and ready to play in tonight’s Game 3 in Toronto.

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Zaitsev was hurt in the Leafs’ final game of the regular season, against Columbus. The way he wobbled off the ice after taking a hit from Nick Foligno, it looked like it could be a concussion — though head coach Mike Babcock wouldn’t say if that was the case.

“The great thing about this medical department is I don’t deal with that part,” said Babcock. “They just tell me he’s not available to go. He’s got an upper-body injury.”

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Zaitsev, 25, had four goals and 32 assists in 82 games this season, paired mostly with Morgan Rielly. He averaged just over 22 minutes per night and, given how things went in Washington, could be in line for an even heavier workload tonight. Games 1 and 2 both went to overtime, and after losing Polak in the aforementioned double-OT Game 2 win, Toronto’s blueliners all logged some serious workloads.

Jake Gardiner finished with a team-high 40:34, and Rielly was right behind at 39:56. Matt Hunwick and Martin Marincin also played 30-plus minutes each.

Another big night for Getzlaf, as Ducks take 2-0 lead on Flames

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the Flames lost in Anaheim.

Again.

Looking to snap an 11-year winless streak in Orange County, Calgary once again fell short on Saturday night, falling 3-2 in Game 2 of its opening-round series against the Ducks.

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Failing to secure a victory — for the second straight game — wasn’t the only familiar refrain for the Flames. Once again, the team was done in by a stellar performance by Ryan Getzlaf.

The Ducks captain put forth his second straight multi-point effort, notching the game-winning goal on the power play with just under five minutes remaining. It was a bit of a fluke tally, as Getzlaf’s centering pass deflected off Lance Bouma and past Brian Elliott.

But it didn’t diminish the impact he’s had thus far.

Getzlaf has four points through two games, and continues to be a driving force with the man advantage. He’s been the main catalyst for a unit that has three power play markers already, this from a group that had a less-than-spectacular regular season (Anaheim’s PP was at 18.7 percent this year, 17th overall in the NHL).

For the Flames, Mikael Backlund and Sean Monahan provided the offense. The team did well to recover after a shaky start, in which Anaheim scored twice in the opening seven minutes, and had to be pleased with out-shooting the Ducks 37-29 on the night.

Overall, though, it was another disappointing result.

Calgary has to be beyond frustrated with its inability to get wins at Honda, and is now faced with a daunting challenge. In order to win this series, the Flames will need to beat the Ducks in four of the next five games, and at least one of those wins will have to come in Anaheim.

Video: Bieksa, Ferland renew acquaintances with spirited scrap

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Two years ago, Kevin Bieksa didn’t even know who Micheal Ferland was.

“That Ferkland, or whatever his name is,” Bieksa, then a member of the Canucks, told Sportsnet during an opening round series between Vancouver and Calgary. “[He] was running around trying to get something going.

“It’s not the first time we’ve seen that.”

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Bieksa and Ferland got to know each other pretty well that series — occasionally with their fists, though often with Ferland running into Bieksa — and, a year later, the two decided to square off again (this time with Bieksa as a member of the Ducks).

On Saturday night, they went at it again.

In an emotional Game 2 between the Ducks and Flames, Bieksa and Ferland threw down in a very spirited tilt near the end of a very spirited second period. The tilt seemed inevitable. Calgary and Anaheim had plenty of bad blood heading into this series — thanks to the Mark Giordano-on-Cam Fowler hit — and it seemed a matter of time before the gloves came off.

Sets the stage nicely for what should be a great third period.

 

Leafs announce Polak done for year

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Some of the shine was knocked off Toronto’s thrilling OT win over the Caps on Saturday night, as Leafs head coach Mike Babcock announced that Roman Polak suffered a season-ending lower-body injury.

Polak was hurt following a Brooks Orpik hit late in the second period. The Leafs blueliner was sent spinning, and his right skate caught the ice and twisted under his body. Early reports suggest Polak suffered an ankle injury on the play.

It’s a significant loss for a Toronto team that was already without blueliner Nikita Zaitsev. Polak played nearly 24 minutes in the Game 1 OT loss, and routinely logs a ton of time on the penalty kill.

As for potential replacements, the Leafs do have Alexey Marchenko in reserve. Babcock could also summon a defender from the AHL Marlies.