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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Ducks re-sign Tokarski: one year, $650,000

Anaheim has re-upped with third string netminder Dustin Tokarski on a one-year, two-way deal worth $650,000 at the NHL level, per the O.C. Register and TVA.

Tokarski, 27, has played in one game for the Ducks this year, coming on in relief of John Gibson in a game against Columbus in late October.

He’s primarily suited up for Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in San Diego, where he’s gone 9-6-1 with a 3.29 GAA and .889 save percentage.

Best remembered for coming on in relief of an injured Carey Price for Montreal during the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, Tokarski gives the Ducks some flexibility heading into next season.

Current backup Jonathan Bernier is in the final year of a deal with a $4.15 million cap hit — fairly rich for a No. 2 — and Tokarski would give the Ducks a goalie to expose in June’s expansion draft.

 

Goalie nods: Flyers start Mason for 22nd time in 24 games

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No rest for the weary in Philly tonight — Steve Mason, who’s lost four straight while posting a .841 save percentage, will start for the 22nd time in 24 games when the Flyers host the Rangers at Wells Fargo.

The decision to start Mason comes after Michal Neuvirth was activated from IR, and Anthony Stolarz was sent back to AHL Lehigh Valley. Neuvirth hasn’t played since Nov. 12, which explains why the Flyers are loathe to throw him right into the mix, and Stolarz was extremely raw at the NHL level — making his debut in late November — all of which has led to Mason’s busy schedule.

“It’s been a heavy workload, obviously. I’ve tried to do my best to prepare my body for this load,” Mason said, per the Philly Inquirer. “Every day, you just try to stay on top of things. I feel all right.”

As Brough wrote earlier this week, this upcoming stretch is a big one for the Flyers. They’ve hit a rough patch, with just one victory in their last seven on the heels of a 10-game win streak, and have a pair of big home dates upcoming against the Rangers (who’ve yet to announce a starter) and Bolts.

After that, they play seven of their next 10 on the road, where they’re a modest 8-9-2 so far this season. Wonder how much rest Mason will get.

Elsewhere…

Roberto Luongo returns to Florida’s net, after James Reimer started the last two games. Not sure who he’ll be up against, as the Jets have yet to announce a starter. Connor Hellebuyck, who beat the Bolts last night, could very well go back-to-back.

— Montreal played last night in Nashville, and Carey Price got the win, so it should be Al Montoya‘s start in Dallas (though that’s yet to be confirmed). Kari Lehtonen is in goal for the Stars.

Ryan Miller, 3-0-0 in his last three starts with a .944 save percentage, will start for the Canucks as they look for their fifth win in a row. He’ll be up against Mike Smith, who gets the nod for Arizona.

Calvin Pickard makes his sixth straight start for the Avs, while Semyon Varlamov deals with a groin injury. He’ll face Brian Elliott, who gets his fourth start in the last five for Calgary.

John Gibson, fresh off a franchise-record 51 saves in a win over the Flyers on Jan. 1, is back in for Anaheim. The visiting Red Wings are going with Petr Mrazek.

Boston legend, Hall of Famer Schmidt dies at 98

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One of the most iconic figures in Bruins franchise history has passed away.

Milt Schmidt, who won four Stanley Cups as a B’s player and GM, has died at the age of 98, per the Boston Globe. The Globe reports Schmidt had suffered a stroke recently, and was living in a care facility.

Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, Schmidt helped the Bruins win titles as a player in 1939 and ’41, then two more as GM in ’70 and ’72. He also served as head coach immediately following his playing days, leading Boston to back-to-back Cup Finals in ’57 and ’58.

A member of the “Kraut Line” alongside fellow Hall of Famers Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer, Schmidt was highly revered throughout the Boston hockey community and the NHL.

Upon news of his passing, an outpouring of condolences flooded social media.

Fittingly, Schmidt — along with Bobby Orr — dropped the ceremonial puck this past October at the Bruins’ first home game of the season.

Detroit hopes Ott will spark league-worst power play

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Last month, we wrote about Detroit’s struggling power play — ranked 29th in the NHL at the time — and things haven’t gotten better since.

In fact, they’re worse.

The Red Wings now own the league’s worst PP, sitting dead last at 11.7 percent. They scored just two goals with the man advantage in all of December, and didn’t exactly flip the script with the calendar, going 0-for-3 in a Centennial Classic loss to the Leafs on Jan. 1.

Desperate times? Desperate measures. At Tuesday’s practice ahead of tonight’s game in Anaheim, the Red Wings put veteran grinder Steve Ott on a power play unit.

More, from the Detroit News:

“Frustration doesn’t do anybody any good,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “What you can do is find ways to be successful. We look at every which way we can find ways to where we can be successful.”

Putting Ott on net-front, with Niklas Kronwall, Anthony Mantha, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tatar gives the Red Wings a rugged player who will retrieve the puck, something the Red Wings have lacked.

“We don’t spend enough time in the zone and there are two reasons for that,” Blashill said. “We don’t retrieve enough pucks, so he (Ott) can certainly help with retrieving pucks, and the other is the break in. Those are two things we have to make sure we do a better job of.

Ott’s appeared in 33 games this year and, all told, received a grand total of 102 seconds of power play time. He also hasn’t scored a PPG since the ’13-14 campaign.

That said, if you go back far enough, the 34-year-old does have some history of power play success. He had eight PPGs in Dallas one season — granted, it was six years ago — and has carved out a reputation as a guy unafraid to do the dirty work, go to the greasy areas, and all the other hockey cliches you’ve come to know and love.

And really, Detroit needs to try virtually anything at this point. Their power play issues date all the way back to last year, when the club went an awful 1-for-25 in an opening-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay.

Coyotes acknowledge Hanzal trade could go down

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Martin Hanzal‘s in the last of his five-year deal. Per the Arizona Republic, Hanzal said both sides are “not really talking right now” about an extension and, as we wrote about back in mid-November, his name has surfaced in trade rumors.

Don’t expect those to go away anytime soon.

This week, Coyotes GM John Chayka told the Republic a “transaction could be made” for Hanzal, who would be one of the key targets available at the trade deadline.

“It’s one of those things where we kind of know where the player is at,” Chayka explained. “The player knows where we’re at. If there was an opportunity to do something, I don’t think it would take too long.”

Hanzal, who turns 30 in February, has 14 points through 32 games this year, missing time with a lower-body injury. Health has been an issue for the big Czech — he stands 6-foot-6, 226 pounds — and, over the last two years, he’s missed 63 games due to various ailments.

But when healthy, Hanzal can be very effective.

Last year he racked up a career-high 41 points (in just 64 games played), often skating alongside two youngsters in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. Hanzal was also terrific in the faceoff circle, winning nearly 56 percent of his draws, and has routinely averaged around 18 minutes per night for the Coyotes, the only NHL club he’s ever known.

Financially speaking, Hanzal has appeal ($3.1M cap hit). And there are teams that would certainly be interested in bringing him aboard.

Montreal has been floated as a suitor. The Habs aren’t deep at center, something that was an issue before losing Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais to injury. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman also suggested San Jose or St. Louis would make sense.

To date, Chayka said he’s yet to receive a serious offer for Hanzal, and both the player and organization remain open to an extension.

But one gets the sense Arizona may be ready to move on — in addition to stockpiling centers through waivers and trades (Josh Jooris, Peter Holland, Alexander Burmistrov), the Coyotes also have some good youngsters in the system, including two currently starring at the world juniors — Canadian captain Dylan Strome, and the U.S.’ Clayton Keller.

Related: Coyotes scouts were ‘unanimous’ in wanting Burmistrov