Mike Halford

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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.

Will Sharks buy at deadline? ‘Our history speaks for itself,’ says Wilson

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In a wide-ranging interview with the Mercury News, Sharks GM Doug Wilson touched on a number of subjects about his team — a team that, heading into tonight’s game in Vancouver, sits atop the Pacific Division.

San Jose is going to make the playoffs, gunning to get back to the Stanley Cup Final. In light of that, Wilson was asked the obvious:

Are you buying at the deadline?

“If something comes along that makes us a better team, absolutely,” he said. “Our history speaks for itself. We’ve always done that.”

San Jose has made the playoffs in 11 of the last 12 seasons. For context, here’s a look at Wilson’s most recent deadline activity:

2016: Acquired Roman Polak, Nick Spaling and James Reimer.

2015 (missed playoffs): Traded away Andrew Desjardins, Tyler Kennedy and James Sheppard.

2014: No deals of significance.

2013: Acquired Kennedy, Raffi Torres and Scott Hannan; traded away Ryane Clowe, Michal Handzus and Douglas Murray.

2012: Acquired Dominic Moore, T.J. Galiardi and Daniel Winnik; traded away Jamie McGinn (in the Galiardi-Winnik deal).

Not much of a pattern here, and the ’13 deadline was especially curious — Wilson was both a buyer and seller, remodeling his roster for the playoffs while bringing in a bounty of picks for the future.

A year later, Wilson essentially stood pat and did nothing.

If we’re to harbor a guess, the Sharks and Wilson may be in a similar position this year. It’s possible they’ve already done their deadline shopping. Mikkel Boedker, signed in free agency, found his stride in January after rough start — four goals and nine points in 13 games. Wilson also waived Matt Nieto and traded away Tommy Wingels, opening up bigger opportunities at forward for Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier.

Last week, head coach Peter DeBoer said these changes made the Sharks a more formidable team than a year ago.

“I like our team,” DeBoer explained. “I think we’re better than last year, sitting where we are right now. The young guys have added a dimension to our team. I think we’re deeper.”

If there is something the Sharks might look to address, it’s speed. Though they’re regarded as one of the NHL’s best skating clubs, they were wowed at how slow they were compared to the Pens in last year’s Cup Final, which was one of the big reasons Boedker was brought aboard.

And hey, you can never have too much speed.

“We were fast,” DeBoer said of last year’s team, with a chuckle. “Until we saw Pittsburgh.”

Avs claim Barberio from Montreal, waive Gelinas

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Colorado was smacked 5-0 in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, so it wasn’t entirely surprising to see a roster shakeup Thursday morning.

The Avs claimed d-man Mark Barberio off waivers from Montreal, per Sportsnet. In a related move, the club waived blueliner Eric Gelinas.

Barberio, 26, is the second player to join Colorado via waivers recently, as ex-Sharks forward Matt Nieto did the same last month. Nieto has been a lineup fixture ever since, and it’s likely Barberio will be the same — he played 26 games for Montreal, notching four assists while posting pretty solid possession metrics and averaging over 15 minutes per night.

As for Gelinas, today’s move is the latest in a series of low points.

At one time considered a promising young d-man — he signed a two-year, $3.15 million extension with the Devils in ’15 — he fell out of favor in New Jersey and was flipped to Colorado at last year’s deadline for a third-round pick.

Things didn’t improve much in Denver. Between this year and the last, he’s only played 32 games while averaging less than 12 minutes per night. Often, he’s been parked in the press box as a healthy scratch.

As for Barberio, he’s in the first of a two-year deal that pays $750,000 annually. So it’s a nice piece of business for the Avs, who will (presumably) send Gelinas to the AHL if he clears waivers.