You've heard the expression "let's get busy?" Well, Mike Halford is a blogger who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.

Russia wants players back in KHL for Olympics


MOSCOW (AP) The Russian Hockey Federation wants as many players as possible back in the Kontinental Hockey League next season in preparation for the Olympics without the NHL.

Board chairman Arkady Rotenberg said in a statement Wednesday that the federation will try to keep KHL players from leaving for North America and bring NHL free agents back this summer. He said some Russian players want to go to the Olympics even with an NHL contract. He says that decision is worthy of respect.

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin reiterated Tuesday he plans to represent Russia in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea despite the NHL announcing it would not participate.

Rotenberg said the federation will help players with legal issues so they can play.

Marchand to have hearing for spearing Dotchin


Brad Marchand is back in hot water with the league.

Marchand, who was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing Tampa’s Jake Dotchin in a 4-0 win on Tuesday, will have a disciplinary hearing for his actions, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced.

The incident occurred late in the first period, essentially costing Marchand the majority of the game. It’ll be very curious to see what kind of punishment is levied — if any at all — given the Bruins have just two games left before the playoffs start, and given Marchand’s history as a repeat offender.

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.

Marchand has also found himself under scrutiny this year for tripping and slew-footing, most recently against another Tampa Bay blueliner, Anton Stralman.

Related: The dangerous line Marchand skates with the NHL

Goalie nods: Leafs start McElhinney with chance to clinch playoffs


Toronto can secure a postseason berth with a win over the Caps tonight, and some help on the out of town scoreboard.

And they’ll look to do it with Curtis McElhinney in goal.

McElhinney, who came up huge last week in relief of the injured Frederik Andersen, will get the call on Tuesday as the leafs host the Caps at the ACC. The start comes exactly one week after McElhinney stopped 25 shots in a 3-2 win over Florida, a game that kicked off the Leafs’ current four-game unbeaten streak.

Calling the Panthers game the biggest start of his career, the veteran backup did very well. But tonight is certainly a more difficult task.

The Caps come into Toronto boasting the NHL’s second-best offense and third-best power play. They’re also on the verge of clinching the Presidents’ Trophy, so plenty at stake for them as well.

Washington is going with Philipp Grubauer in goal.

(For more on Toronto’s playoff-clinching and Washington’s Presidents’ Trophy-clinching scenarios, click here).


— In a game the Leafs will be paying close attention to, the Lightning are going with Andrei Vasilevskiy in Boston. No confirmed B’s starter yet, but chances are Tuukka Rask will be in goal, as the Bruins can clinch a postseason berth with a regulation win.

Matt Murray goes for Pittsburgh, who hosts Columbus in a likely first-round playoff preview. No word yet on a Blue Jackets starter.

— No confirmed starters from Detroit and Ottawa, who played each other last night. Petr Mrazek and Craig Anderson were the goalies of record, so we could see Jimmy Howard and Mike Condon. (Update: It’s Anderson for Ottawa.)

— It’s Cam Ward versus Devan Dubnyk as the ‘Canes visit Minnesota.

— The Isles’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, and they’re hoping Jaroslav Halak can keep them alive in Nashville. The Preds have yet to announce a starter.

— The Jets continue to give Michael Hutchinson late season looks, and he’ll start tonight in St. Louis. Jake Allen starts for the Blues, as expected.

— It’s Mike Smith versus Antti Niemi as the Coyotes take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Like Hutchinson in Winnipeg, Devils backup Keith Kinkaid is getting more and more looks down the stretch, including tonight’s home date against the Flyers. Steve Mason goes for Philly.

Scott Darling gives Corey Crawford the night off, and gets the start in Colorado. He’ll be up against Calvin Pickard.

— Speaking of nights off, Brian Elliott gets one for Calgary as the Flames look to snap an 11-year (yes, year) losing streak in Anaheim. Chad Johnson gets the call, and no word yet on who he’ll face.

Jonathan Quick gets another start for the Kings, as he was first off the ice at this morning’s skate. Edmonton hasn’t unveiled its starter yet, but Cam Talbot literally plays every game, so….

— In San Jose, Martin Jones gets to face the visiting Canucks. He’ll be up against Richard Bachman.

Rangers to sit McDonagh, Nash, Zuccarello and Fast against Caps

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The Rangers have little to play for down the stretch — they’ve clinched the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and know they’re playing Montreal in Round 1 — so head coach Alain Vigneault has decided to rest some veterans.

Starting tomorrow.

On Tuesday, Vigneault announced that captain Ryan McDonagh and forwards Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast would all sit out Wednesday’s game against the Capitals.

“They’ve all been playing through certain bumps and bruises,” Vigneault explained, per the club website. “So we can at this time give them a couple days here but I’m not exactly sure how things are going to unfold here.”

Vigneault went on to say none of the injuries were significant, and all four will play when the Rangers open up the posteason next week.

That said, it does create some confusion for tomorrow. Here’s what the makeshift lines will look like:

Pavel Buchnevich into Zuccarello’s spot with Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider.

Brandon Pirri will skate with Mika Zibanejad and Jimmy Vesey.

The Kevin Hayes unit with J.T. Miller and Michael Grabner was reunited, while Oscar Lindberg will skate between Matt Puempel and Tanner Glass.

New York didn’t unveil what the defensive pairings will be without McDonagh in the mix.

This will be Zuccarello’s first missed game of the year, as he was one of just four Rangers to play in all 79 contests (Miller, Stepan and d-man Nick Holden are the others).

McDonagh, who leads all Rangers by averaging 24:24 TOI per night, has appeared in 76 games, having missed a few recently with an undisclosed ailment.

Calgary looking for first win in Anaheim in 11 years


The last time the Flames won a game in Orange County, things were much different. Darryl Sutter was the head coach, Jarome Iginla was the captain and Miikka Kiprusoff was the starting netminder.

The date? Apr. 26, 2006. Game 3 of their opening-round playoff matchup with the Ducks. Calgary won that night, 5-2, but Anaheim would go on to win the series four games to three.

Since then, the Flames have taken the L every time they’ve been to Anaheim. That includes this season, when they dropped a 4-1 decision in their first of two visits to the Honda Center back on Nov. 6.

Tonight, Calgary gets another shot at busting the slump. It’s the Flames’ last kick at the can for the year, and it comes just two nights after the Ducks went into the Saddledome and won, 4-3.

“If we play like we did (Sunday), we’re not going to end that thing either,” Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said, per the Calgary Herald. “We need to be better. We’re not thinking about a streak or anything. We’re just thinking about being better.”

The Calgary-Anaheim matchup is getting extra attention lately. If the season ended today, the two would meet in the first playoff round, a rematch of their ’15 second-round series that the Ducks won in five games (Anaheim laid the boots at Honda that series, outscoring Calgary 12-3 over three contests).

Of course, much can change in the ultra tight Pacific Division.

The Ducks sit atop with 99 points, the Flames are fourth with 92, and two teams — Edmonton, with 97 and San Jose, with 95 — are sandwiched in between.

The Ducks, Sharks and Flames all have three games left, while the Oilers have four.