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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Detroit waives key penalty killer Marchenko

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Alexey Marchenko — signed to a two-year, $2.9 million extension last summer — has been placed on waivers by the Red Wings.

Marchenko, 25, was waived to clear room for fellow d-man Brendan Smith, who will soon be activated off IR. Marchenko hasn’t suited up for a game since getting nearly 20 minutes in a loss to Buffalo on Jan. 20.

His (potential) departure comes one year after a breakout campaign. He posted career highs across the board in ’15-16, scoring 11 points in 66 games while averaging 16:50 TOI per night. Marchenko also appeared in three playoff games during an opening-round loss to Tampa Bay.

As mentioned in the headline, Marchenko’s been a focal point of Detroit’s penalty kill this season, despite only appearing in 30 games (he missed a few weeks this season with an upper-body injury). He sits third on the club in shorthanded ice time and, among Wings d-men, only Danny DeKeyser kills penalties with more regularity.

Marchenko’s cap hit is $1.45 million, so that could detract teams from putting in a waiver claim. That said, he’s also relatively young, a right-handed shot and a big body — 6-foot-3, 210 pounds — so there could be some interest.

Devils get their captain back, as Greene returns from 12-game absence

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New Jersey will get a big piece of the lineup back when it hosts Calgary at Prudential tonight.

Captain Andy Greene, who’s been out since Jan. 3 with an arm injury, will return from a 12-game absence to take on the Flames, per NorthJersey.com.

Both he and the Devils are hopeful the return will kickstart his campaign. Greene’s had a rough ’16-17.

The injury snapped his consecutive games played streak at 350 — the third-longest in Devils history — and marked his first missed game since the ’11-12 campaign.

When healthy, Greene wasn’t exactly shining.

His TOI is down to 21:43 per night and while he does have fairly decent offensive production — nine points through 39 games has him on pace to beat last year’s 13 — it’s still well off the career-high of 37 he posted a few years ago.

Still, it’s a positive development for the Devils. They head into tonight’s game seven points back of Philly for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, so they’ll take whatever good news they can get.

 

Pens will see if Fleury’s ‘OK with the situation’ as deadline draws near

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Matt Murray will make his eighth straight start for the Penguins tonight, relegating Marc-Andre Fleury to the backup gig yet again.

Fleury hasn’t received a start in nearly three weeks. And, with the NHL’s trade deadline just under a month away, Pens GM Jim Rutherford was asked how he’d handle the situation.

His response? Keep checking in with Flower.

“The one thing I’ll have to watch for and keep the lines of communication open with the player is, is he OK with the situation that he’s in?” Rutherford said, per the Tribune-Review. “Going back to last year and to this point in time, he has handled it like a true pro. No issues at all. It may play out that we may be able to go right through having two top goalies on our team.

“We just have to keep an eye on what direction Marc wants to go here in the next few weeks.”

It’s been a difficult year for Fleury. His playing time has been erratic and, as a result, his numbers don’t show well — 3.23 GAA, and .904 save percentage. That said, he has shown stretches befitting a No. 1 netminder, like in December when he went an impressive 7-1-1 with a .924 save percentage.

That stretch, of course, coincided with Murray being shelved with a hand injury. Now that he’s back, Fleury’s on the outside looking in.

Rutherford has a dicey situation on his hands. While he’d no doubt like to keep Fleury in the fold — he’d be good insurance should Murray get hurt in the playoffs, or falter — he also sounds like he wants to do right by the 32-year-old.

Fleury’s not getting any younger, and there are teams out there that are in definite need of goaltending help. But the issues are complex — would any of those teams be willing to take on Fleury’s deal, which pays $5.75 million annually and doesn’t expire until 2019?

If yes, are they willing to make the trade in season — as opposed to this summer?

Goalie nods: Blues stick with Allen in first game under Yeo

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St. Louis will have a new bench boss tonight, but the same ol’ guy in net.

In the first game of the Mike Yeo era — Yeo took over as head coach following Ken Hitchcock’s firing on Wednesday — the Blues will go back to beleaguered No. 1 Jake Allen when they host the Leafs at Scottrade.

Allen, struggling through a nightmarish campaign, returned from a “mental reset” break to start (and lose) to Winnipeg on Tuesday. He allowed four goals on 23 shots in what would be Hitchcock’s final game behind the bench.

For Allen, it was his first nod in nearly two weeks (though he did see some relief action in a 5-1 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 26). The club — in this instance, mostly GM Doug Armstrong — has said on numerous occasions that Allen is “the guy” and will stick with him, so it’s of little surprise Yeo’s giving him the start this evening.

That said, Yeo maybe wishes it was a different opponent. The high-flying Leafs boast the NHL’s sixth-best offense, and the second-best power play.

For Toronto, Frederik Andersen‘s in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Fresh off a 37-save win over the Sabres, Carey Price is back in goal when Montreal visits Philly. The Flyers will counter with Michal Neuvirth.

Henrik Lundqvist was yanked in Tuesday’s loss to Columbus, but he’ll draw back in as the Rangers take on the Sabres. Robin Lehner goes for Buffalo, after allowing five goals in his last start.

— Having lost three of his last four, Mike Condon will look to bump the slump as the Sens take on Tampa Bay. He’ll go up against Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has now started five of the Bolts’ last six.

— Edmonton workhorse Cam Talbot gets yet another start as the Oilers invade Nashville. Pekka Rinne, beaten four times on 38 shots in Tuesday’s loss to Pittsburgh, gets back in for the Preds.

— It’s Ondrej Pavelec versus Kari Lehtonen as the Jets take on the Stars in Dallas.

Corey Crawford gets his second start in a row as the ‘Hawks head to the desert. The Coyotes are, once again, going with veteran netminder Mike Smith.

— Fresh off an extended All-Star break, veteran Ryan Miller gets the call as the Canucks host San Jose. Martin Jones goes for the Sharks.

Wild re-up with Stalock, a goalie to expose in expansion draft

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Minnesota locked in some goaltending depth on Thursday, agreeing to a two-year, $1.3 million contract extension with Alex Stalock.

Stalock, 29, originally signed with the Wild last July, and was quickly slotted into No. 3 on the depth chart behind Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper. He’s spent all of the year with AHL Iowa, where he’s gone 14-10-4 with a 2.56 GAA and .916 save percentage.

The logic behind Stalock’s deal is worth mentioning. He essentially signed to be the goalie Minnesota leaves unprotected for the upcoming Las Vegas expansion draft (Devan Dubnyk, obviously, will be the one protected).

In a related development, the first year of Stalock’s extension is of the one-way variety.

Darcy Kuemper, currently the Wild’s No. 2, is an unrestricted free agent on July 1. If he signs elsewhere, Stalock would have a shot at either going to Vegas, or being Dubnyk’s backup in ’17-18.

Either way, it’s a chance at getting back to the NHL.

Stalock has been out of the picture for a while but, just three years ago, had a nice regular season in San Jose (12-5-2, .932 save percentage). That spring, he battled with Antti Niemi for playing time in the club’s opening-round playoff collapse to Los Angeles.

Since then, he’s struggled to reclaim that form and hasn’t played a big-league contest since February of ’16.