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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Price, Subban, Crosby, McDavid leading races for All-Star Game captaincies

There are just a handful of voting days left for the 2017 NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles but, if the latest results hold true, there will be some major star power among the four divisional captains.

The top vote-getter in the Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan and Pacific will wear the “C” for the league’s second consecutive 3-on-3 ASG tourney. Here’s how things stack up as of Tuesday:

Atlantic
1. Carey Price, Montreal
2. Jaromir Jagr, Florida
3. Shea Weber, Montreal
4. Patrice Bergeron, Boston
5. Jack Eichel, Buffalo

Central
1. P.K. Subban, Nashville
2. Patrick Kane, Chicago
3. Jonathan Toews, Chicago
4. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg
5. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis

Metropolitan
1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh
2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington
3. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh
4. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia
5. John Tavares, NY Islanders

Pacific
1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton
2. Brent Burns, San Jose
3. Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary
4. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles
5. Joe Thornton, San Jose

Last year, in Nashville, John Scott captained the Pacific Division to victory over the Jaromir Jagr-led Atlantic in the tournament final. John Tavares captained the Metro, while Patrick Kane wore the “C” for the Central.

Fans have until 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, Jan. 2 to cast their votes for this year’s captains.

McLellan likes Oilers defense, but ‘it’s Christmas, and we all have wish lists’

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Through 36 games, the Oilers have shown well — 42 points, one point back of San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division — and much of that has to do with the club’s improved defense.

While hardly an awe-inspiring unit, it is better than the group of a year ago. GM Peter Chiarelli’s two major additions — Adam Larsson and Kris Russell — have been polarizing figures at times, but have solidified themselves as top-four, 20-minute-per-night guys, along with Oscar Klefbom and the club’s “No. 1” defenseman, Andrej Sekera.

All that said, head coach Todd McLellan certainly wouldn’t mind an upgrade.

“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.”

The Oilers are defending by committee this season, as Sekera is really a No. 1 in name only. Sure, he’s the team leader in ice time, at 21:44 a night, but doesn’t log anywhere hear the heavy workloads of Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Kris Letang, Ryan Suter or Dustin Byfuglien.

And though Sekera scores reasonably well (17 points, putting him top-30 among NHL blueliners), he doesn’t produce at a clip that compensates for the remainder of the unit. Edmonton’s defense hasn’t done much in terms of points this year — Russell only has five , Larsson just six — which is probably why an offensive d-man is high on McLellan’s shopping list.

The club also has a hole to fill on its blueline following Darnell Nurse‘s ankle surgery, which projects to sideline him until mid-March. Nurse, 21, was the seventh overall pick in 2013 and had been a mainstay on the club’s blueline — he averaged just under 18 minutes a night through 25 games this year while racking up 60 hits, which was second among all Oilers d-men.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a team that sure sounds like it’s in the market for upgrades Lest we forget Chiarelli’s history in Boston of picking up defensemen at the deadline: Andrej Meszaros in ’14, Wade Redden in ’13, Greg Zanon/Mike Mottau in ’12 and Tomas Kaberle in ’11.

Throw in the desperation factor — the Oilers are in line for playoffs, a place they haven’t been in 10 years — and perhaps McLellan will get a late Christmas present.

‘Hawks put Hossa on IR, hopeful he’s back for Winter Classic

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The injury that knocked Marian Hossa out of Chicago’s loss to Ottawa last Tuesday will sideline him for a few more games.

Per the Sun-Times, Hossa has been placed on IR with an upper-body injury. Having already missed most of the aforementioned Sens game and all of Friday’s 2-1 OT loss to Colorado, it now looks like the veteran winger will miss three more — tonight’s game against Winnipeg, then road dates in Nashville on Dec. 29, and Carolina on Dec. 30.

The hope, it would seem, is that Hossa will recover in time to face the Blues at Busch Stadium on Jan. 2, for the 2017 Winter Classic.

Chicago certainly needs the 37-year-old in the lineup. Hossa leads the club in goals this year, with 16, and is averaging a healthy 17:17 TOI per night.

With Hossa out, the ‘Hawks look as though they’ll roll with a top line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. Jonathan Toews will center Ryan Hartman and Vince Hinostroza on line two, while Marcus Kruger will play between Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik on the third.

Four players — Andrew Desjarsins, Tanner Kero, Tyler Motte and Jordin Tootoo — are vying for spots on the fourth line.

Report: O’Reilly out indefinitely following Christmas appendectomy (Updated)

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It’s been a disappointing season thus far in Buffalo, and the holidays weren’t much better.

Per a report from the Buffalo news, Sabres No. 1 center and fourth-leading scorer Ryan O'Reilly underwent an appendectomy on Dec. 25 and will be out of the lineup for an indefinite length of time.

Update: The Sabres have confirmed the report, adding there’s no timetable for his return.

The 25-year-old had been one of the few bright spots in the Sabres lineup to begin the year. He racked up seven goals and 11 assists through 27 games, but did miss extended time (six games) earlier this season with an oblique injury.

The injury appeared to hamper his on-ice performance. Since returning, O’Reilly has played 11 games and scored just a single goal.

As mentioned above, not much has gone right in Buffalo this season. Jack Eichel missed a boatload of time with a high ankle sprain, Evander Kane has struggled with injury and Tyler Ennis has only played in 12 games due to a hernia.

As such, the team has been erratic at best en route to posting an 12-13-8 record, which sent the Sabres into the holiday break sitting dead last in the Atlantic Division.

Given that O’Reilly plays over 21 minutes a night, he’s going to leave a huge hole in the lineup. Head coach Dan Bylsma will attempt to fill it starting tonight, when the Sabres host the Red Wings in their first game back from break.

Mark Scheifele is joining the ballet, and performing in the Nutcracker

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Mark Scheifele is headed to the big stage.

Well, sort of.

Scheifele, who leads the Jets in scoring and sits tied for 14th in the league with 31 points, will join the Royal Winnipeg Ballet later this month for a walk-on role in the performance of the Nutcracker, the club announced.

More:

Scheifele is among 17 chosen Winnipeggers for this year’s Nutcracker walk-on roles. Walk-on roles are a long-standing Nutcracker tradition at the RWB, one that dates back for over a decade.

Walk-on roles are typically reserved for Act 1’s famous Party Scene; however, Scheifele will also take part in the opening scene’s shinny hockey game on a frozen pond.

Scheifele’s performance will take place Friday, Dec. 30th at 7:00 pm at Centennial Concert Hall.

Scheifele, 23, has blossomed into one of the Jets’ biggest stars over the last calendar year. He had a terrific ’15-16 campaign, finishing with 29 goals and 61 points, and parlayed that into a huge extension this summer — an eight-year, $49 million contract with an average annual cap hit of $6.125 million.

This past fall, Scheifele also played on Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.