What happened over the weekend that you need to know about? Joe McDonald gives us his take on the biggest and best performances. This is where we say, "Morning, Joe."
Halak should be dealt: Remember Denis Lemieux in "Slap Shot," picking up the phone in the hotel room and saying, "Trade me right [expletive] now"? That should be New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak. His agent, Allan Walsh, spoke his mind on Twitter over the weekend, saying the Islanders' three-goalie rotation is not working. He's right. Halak, who earns $4.5 million per season, was on the bench as the backup Sunday as Thomas Greiss made 33 saves to help the Islanders to a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Barclays Center. Greiss should be the No. 1 for the Islanders. After Halak suffered a season-ending groin injury in March, Greiss helped the Islanders make the Stanley Cup playoffs, and he was solid in the second-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of Halak, Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube (also a client of Walsh's), Islanders GM Garth Snow should trade one, and Halak should be the guy to go. He's attractive because of his play for the Islanders, and he's coming off helping Europe get to the World Cup of Hockey finals. The problem is his contract is hefty ($4.75 million salary this season and $5 million next season), but some teams out there need a good No. 1. Trade him. Ring, ring.
Grabner paying off: Cap constraints forced New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton to make a couple of offseason transactions that made you scratch your head. One of them was inking forward Michael Grabner, a guy who is now on his third team in three seasons, to a two-year deal worth $3.2 million. But the blue-light-special player helped justify the signing with his third career hat trick to lead the Rangers to a decisive 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. Grabner, 28, has five goals and one assist for six points in nine games this season. The Rangers need all four lines contributing to succeed. Specifically, their third line of J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes and Grabner needs to produce. On Sunday, that trio combined for nine points and a plus-4. Grabner is fast and is good at killing penalties. For him to produce like he did against the Lightning is a strong indication that Gorton is getting his money's worth.
Good sign for Crawford: Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford posted his first shutout of the season with a 32-save performance en route to a 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night at the United Center. It was his 20th shutout of his NHL career. The Blackhawks are 5-3-1 with 11 points and sit third in the Central Division, where you just know five teams will make the playoffs. For Chicago, a team loaded with superstars, this is the season Crawford needs to be at his best. He's won 30-plus games five times in his career and will need to add to that total this season for the Blackhawks to go deep into the playoffs again. The 31-year-old is 3-3-1 in seven games this season, and those numbers need to improve. A performance like Sunday's should be a major confidence boost because he hasn't looked to be in top form. Plain and simple: Crawford needs to be Chicago's best player this season for it to have a chance in the Central.