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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Who’s No. 1? Gretzky, Lemieux and Orr say it’s Gordie Howe

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LOS ANGELES — Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Bobby Orr are on top of many people’s lists for the greatest NHLer of all time.

But according to the trio, none of ’em are No. 1.

“Gordie [Howe] in my mind is the best player to ever play the game,” Orr said at Friday’s press conference ahead of the NHL100 announcement.

Gretzky and Lemieux agreed, with Gretzky saying all three would vote for Howe as No. 1.

The trio was gathered as part of tonight’s gala event, in which the NHL will celebrate its centennial by naming the top 100 players of all time. And while there won’t be a numerical assignment to the players named — it’s just a collection of the 100 best — there was universal reverence and respect paid to Howe, who passed away last June at the age of 88.

Howe made his NHL debut in 1946, at the age of 18. He went on to become one of the most dominant players of his era, capturing four Stanley Cups, six Hart Trophies as league MVP and another six Art Ross trophies as the league’s top scorer.

Howe retired in 1971, but came out of retirement to play alongside sons Marty and Mark, and spent his final NHL campaign in Hartford during the 1979-80 campaign, at the age of 51.

In doing so, Howe became the oldest player to ever play in an NHL contest, a record that remains unbroken.

That longevity was a big reason why Gretzky, Orr and Lemieux called him the greatest of all time. Though Lemieux did note one of his former teammates is honing in on that record.

“That’s pretty rare these days,” Lemieux said of playing ’til the age of 51. “Well, except for my buddy [Jaromir] Jagr.”

With Gaudreau getting roughed up, Flames ‘looking at everything’ for toughness

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In late December, we wrote about Anaheim center Ryan Kesler targeting Johnny Gaudreau, and how Kesler was just the latest to take physical liberties with Calgary’s prized winger.

Last week, the trend continued when Toronto’s Leo Komarov blasted Gaudreau with a huge open-ice check.

The Komarov hit, again, led to questions about Calgary’s response to Gaudreau targeting.

This time, the queries came from ex-Flames tough guy Brian McGrattan, who followed up a series of angry tweets by telling the Herald “sticking up for each other and being a team is crucial for morale,” adding “it goes so far in the dressing room.”

Captain Mark Giordano did come to Gaudreau’s defense by jumping Komarov but, to hear McGrattan explain it, the Flames needed more of a response beyond that single instance.

And perhaps Giordano’s general manager agreed.

More, from the Herald:

“I think we have got people who are able to handle that (rough stuff) but I’m looking at everything right now,” said Treliving of the lack of toughness theory explaining his star’s struggles.

“No question, there’s less room on the ice because he’s put himself in the position of being a top player. I think (the physical abuse) has always been there in his career. People are going to play hard against him and I think that gets magnified when production is down.”

Treliving and coach Glen Gulutzan both pointed out during the team’s recent four-game swoon there has been no pushback.

The Flames dressed enforcer Brandon Bollig frequently last season, but waived him at the start of this year and dispatched him to the AHL, where he’s been ever since.

That’s left most of the pugilistic endeavors to a pair of tough guys in d-man Deryk Engelland, and energy forward Garnet Hathaway. Another energy guy, Micheal Ferland, hasn’t been afraid to drop the gloves either.

So it’s not like the Flames have a lack of guys willing to do the job.

But there certainly seems to be issue with when those guys choose to do it.

Goalie nods: Lundqvist’s redemption tour continues

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Remember when we wrote about how badly Henrik Lundqvist was struggling, and how Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault said “no doubt” there was a confidence issue at play?

You should remember. It was only six days ago.

What a difference a week can make. Tonight, Lundqvist will make his fourth consecutive start and aim for his fourth consecutive win when the Rangers host the Flyers at MSG.

Lundqvist has been terrific since a ghastly effort against Dallas on Jan. 17, in which he allowed seven goals on 27 shots. First, he made 23 saves in a win over Toronto last Thursday. Then, 21 saves in a shutout against Detroit on Sunday. The following night, he had one of his best efforts of the season, making 36 saves to topple the Kings.

All told, Lundqvist has stopped 80 of his last 84 shots faced, good for a .952 save percentage.

The performance was vital, but also pretty clutch. The Rangers had to go with Lundqvist over the last few games, as stellar backup Antti Raanta is shelved with an injury until after the All-Star break. Vigneault could’ve tried to go with third-stringer Magnus Hellberg, but that would be asking a lot considering Hellberg has just 51 career minutes of NHL experience.

As for the Flyers, they’ll go with Steve Mason in goal this evening.

Elsewhere…

Frederik Andersen, fresh off a 26-save shutout of Calgary on Monday, will get yet another start for the Leafs. Detroit’s Jared Coreau was in for last night’s 4-3 OT loss for the Bruins, so it’s likely Petr Mrazek will go tonight.

Ryan Miller has played the last three games, so he gets a break as the Canucks wills tart Jacob Markstrom in Colorado. The Avs will counter with Calvin Pickard, after AHL recall Spencer Martin stared the last two games, both against San Jose.

Cam Talbot, the NHL leader in starts, will get another one as the Oilers take on the Ducks in Anaheim. No word yet on who goes for the home team, as the Ducks didn’t skate this morning. John Gibson, knocked out of his last start with an upper-body injury, is a game-time decision.

Marchand to have hearing for ‘dangerous trip’ on Kronwall (Video)

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Brad Marchand will be back in a familiar spot tomorrow — in front of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Marchand will have a hearing for his dangerous trip on Wings blueliner Niklas Kronwall during Boston’s 4-3 OT win on Tuesday, the DoPS has announced.

As the above video shows, Marchand appears to kick Kronwall’s right leg out from under him while play was whistled for an offside.

That the 28-year-old is back in hot water shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. While he has become a quality sniper and talented offensive producer, Marchand has never really curtailed the recklessness that’s earned him a myriad of punishments over the last six years:

— March 2011: Suspended two games for elbowing R.J. Umberger in the head.

— December 2011: Fined for slew-footing Matt Niskanen.

— January 2012: Suspended five games for clipping Sami Salo.

— January 2015: Suspended two games for slew-footing Derick Brassard.

— November 2015: Fined for roughing Gabriel Landeskog.

— December 2015: Suspended three games for clipping Mark Borowiecki.

As for the incident with Kronwall, Marchand wasn’t penalized on the play and finished Tuesday’s tilt with a pair of goals in just under 20 minutes of ice time. Kronwall wasn’t injured on the play, and finished with just under 18 minutes TOI.

Oilers in unfamiliar position of being deadline buyers

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Like yard sales and cherry blossom festivals, Edmonton selling at the deadline is an annual springtime tradition.

But this year, that’s set to change.

The Oilers currently sit third in the Pacific Division, nine points up on fourth-place Calgary. It’s too early to call it a lock, but Edmonton sure seems like it’ll be participating in the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Which means, in all likelihood, the Oilers will be buyers at this year’s deadline.

“It’s our job to make it hard on a management team to decide whether it is going to add or subtract,” head coach Todd McLellan said this week, per the Journal. “In the past it’s been fairly easy, he’s been able to look at the standings and understand where we’re going to end up.”

“He” in this instance is Peter Chiarelli, who’s only in his second year as Edmonton GM yet has already experienced selling at the deadline. Last year, with his club en route to the worst record in the Western Conference, he shipped several assets — Justin Schultz, Teddy Purcell and Anders Nilsson — out of town, in exchange for a handful of picks.

That followed in a long tradition of Oilers GMs (Craig MacTavish, Steve Tambellini, Kevin Lowe) that did the same during the club’s current 11-year playoff drought.

So let’s assume the Oilers break with tradition this year, and are in a position to add. If Chiarelli’s going to be a buyer, what’s he going to buy?

Answer: Probably a blueliner.

Back in late December, McLellan addressed his club’s need for more on the back end.

“It’s Christmas and we all have wish lists,” said McLellan, per the Edmonton Journal. “We’re coaches and we’re never happy but when you talk of those type of players … say a power play quarterback, somebody who puts up points, we don’t have that.”

History suggests Chiarelli will be more than happy to oblige. In Boston, he made it a near-annual tradition of stocking up on defensemen at the deadline: Andrej Meszaros in ’14, Wade Redden in ’13, Greg Zanon/Mike Mottau in ’12 and Tomas Kaberle in ’11.

Will be interesting to see if that trend continues in Edmonton this year.