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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Gophers junior Collins goes pro, signs with Columbus

University of Minnesota blueliner Ryan Collins is forgoing his senior season to join the Blue Jackets.

On Wednesday, Columbus announced it had signed Collins to a three-year, entry-level contract, adding that he’ll immediately report to the club’s AHL affiliate in Cleveland.

Collins, 20, scored nine points in 37 games this year, helping the Gophers capture the Big Ten championship. He’s got great size — 6-foot-5, 205 pounds — and has international experience, suiting up for the U.S. at the 2015 world juniors.

 

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    Chicago is Stanley Cup favorite, says Anaheim coach

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    Maybe it’s posturing, maybe it’s honesty. But whatever the case, Randy Carlyle didn’t mice words when it came to picking who he thought was the lead horse in the Stanley Cup race.

    “Everybody’s going to look to Chicago as the favorite,” Carlyle said, per the O.C. Register. “It’s pretty simple. And then everybody else will probably be bunched in because that’s the way standings read right now.

    “Chicago with their history and their Stanley Cup experience and their group of players, I’d have to say that any team sitting with 107 points in the Western Conference would be the favorite.”

    Standings wise, Chicago has emerged as the class of the West. The ‘Hawks are well clear of their two closest challengers — Minnesota, who sits six points back, and the Ducks, who are seven back — and, along with Washington, are currently the only two NHL clubs on 50 wins.

    So Carlyle’s words make sense. Throw in the fact the core of this Chicago team has won three championships, and it’s hard to argue his point.

    But…

    There’s no doubt a bit of gamesmanship here. Two years ago, the Ducks and ‘Hawks met in the Western Conference Final, and Anaheim looked to be in control.

    The Ducks were within one win of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final, but couldn’t close — Chicago won Game 6 at the United Center, then jumped out to a 4-0 lead to cruise to victory in Game 7. At the Honda Center, no less.

    Carlyle wasn’t the coach then — it was Bruce Boudreau — but a large chunk of the current Ducks team was around in ’15. A large chunk of last year’s team is around, too, and that’s the same squad that crashed out in Round 1 (which ultimately cost Boudreau his job). Perhaps this is Carlyle’s way of taking some pressure off his club.

    Or, maybe motivating it.

    Flames send Johnson home from trip, recall goalie prospect Gillies

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    Looks like Calgary will be without backup netminder Chad Johnson for the remainder of the regular season.

    Johnson, who exited last night’s loss in Anaheim with a lower-body injury, has been returned to Calgary for further examination. In a related move, the club has recalled John Gillies from AHL Stockton on an emergency basis.

    Johnson got the start on Tuesday, but left after just 5:19 and making one save on one shot. Brian Elliott came on in relief in an eventual 3-1 defeat.

    Though Elliott had emerged as Calgary’s No. 1 over the second half of the season, Johnson has played a key role this year — especially early on, when Elliott was struggling. The 30-year-old went 18-15-1 with a .910 save percentage and 2.59 GAA prior to getting hurt.

    This all makes for an interesting dynamic down the stretch.

    Calgary has clinched a playoff berth, and is locked into one of the two wild card spots in the Western Conference. It has two games remaining — Thursday in L.A., Saturday in San Jose — and will be jockeying with fellow wild card holder Nashville, who is tied with Calgary on 92 points (and also has two games left).

    Gillies, 23, could make his NHL debut against either the Kings or Sharks. The former Providence College standout was Calgary’s third round pick (75th overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft, and is considered to be the club’s potential goalie of the future.

    This year, Gillies has appeared in 38 games for Stockton. posting a 17-14-1 record with a shutout, a 2.95 GAA and a .909 save percentage.

    No hearing scheduled for Giordano after Fowler hit

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    Calgary captain Mark Giordano isn’t scheduled to face a disciplinary hearing for a hit that injured Ducks d-man Cam Fowler, an NHL spokesman confirmed on Wednesday.

    The incident occurred in the third period of Anaheim’s 3-1 win over the Flames on Tuesday night. Giordano went knee-on-knee with Fowler, and wasn’t penalized on the play. Fowler crumpled to the ice and had to be helped off by teammates, and didn’t return.

    “He came through the middle with a lot of speed and I was honestly coming across trying to make a hit on him and I got to watch the game, but I think our legs collided. I don’t know how bad, I just hope he’s OK,” Giordano said after the game, per Yahoo. “You don’t like to see guys get hurt. There was no intent to hurt him there.

    “I was just trying to come across in a 2-1 game to try to stop him from getting to our net, trying to make a hit and the result was, I don’t know if our legs collided or not, I think they did and I hope it’s nothing too serious.”

    Ducks blueliner Kevin Bieksa wasn’t happy with the hit. From the L.A. Times:

    Bieksa said he didn’t get a good live view at the play but said, “It didn’t look clean. It didn’t sound clean.

    “We’re a team that sticks up for each other. That’s always been one of our MOs. We’re a physical team. But you know what? We care about each other. We care about Cam. We don’t want to see a teammate on the ice, getting helped carried off, so we’re going to respond the way we did.”

    The Giordano-Fowler hit was part of a nasty affair that boiled over in the third period:

    — Shortly after that incident, Josh Manson fought Giordano, landing some heavy shots before they hit the ice.

    — After throwing a huge hit on Matthew Tkachuk at the blue line, Ducks d-man Korbinian Holzer fought Matt Bartkowski, while a near line brawl broke out on the other side of the ice, with Ryan Kesler and Michael Frolik jousting. Bartkowski was given an instigator penalty and a game misconduct, as well.

    — Holzer had been previously involved in a large scrum after he went after Micheal Ferland, who was given a misconduct.

    — The two teams combined for 106 minutes in penalties in the final frame.

    Panthers AGM won’t confirm Rowe is out

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    Will Rowe go, or no?

    That was the question posed to Florida assistant co-general manager Eric Joyce on Wednesday, in the wake of reports that interim head coach Tom Rowe would be relieved of his duties following this season.

    Joyce wouldn’t say yes, but he wouldn’t say no either.

    “This sounds like a stock answer. I don’t think those decisions have been made yet,’’ Joyce told radio station WQAM 560, per the Sun-Sentinel. “Every year we take stock in how the season went. We try to improve as a group. Obviously, I thought this year was a frustrating season, a frustrating finish.

    “We were in third place after that great road trip we had, then we came home and lost eight of nine. Obviously, something wasn’t going well there. We just have to figure out [what], but we haven’t really thought about that.”

    Rowe has increasingly come under fire in recent weeks. There was the questionable handling of Aaron Ekblad‘s return from a concussion — Rowe expressed regret over playing Ekblad and potentially letting him return too soon — and the bench boss also raised eyebrows by calling out Reilly Smith following a loss in early March.

    Prior to Monday’s loss to the Canadiens, a plane flew overhead the BB&T Center towing the message: “Rowe must go! Call him a cab!”

    The Panthers were 11-10-1 upon firing former head coach Gerard Gallant (the inspiration for the “call him a cab” part of the aforementioned banner).

    Under Rowe, they’ve gone 22-25-10, and will miss the playoffs for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons.