Nashville Predators v Anaheim Ducks - Game Two

Teemu Selanne has knee surgery, future plans temporarily on hold

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Knee surgery is always a scary proposition. It’s even scarier when it’s the soon-to-be 41-year-old who has been contemplating retirement that is having surgery. Such is the case for the Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks. Selanne went back to Finland after the season with his family and underwent arthroscopic surgery for his surgically repaired left knee. The Finnish face of the franchise wanted to have his knee looked at before he made a final decision for next season.

Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray was quick to point out that any speculation about the surgery at this point would be exactly that–speculation. Still, with Selanne delaying his decision until after free agency opens, Murray will be forced to build his team for next season without knowing the superstar’s intentions.

Eric Stephens of the OC Register spoke to Ducks GM Bob Murray last week:

“Ducks GM Bob Murray intimated that the procedure might have been more exploratory in nature but quickly cautioned that “until we know more, we shouldn’t speculate.”

“I think Teemu wants to play and I think he’s trying to make sure that before he decides to play that everything’s going to be OK,” Murray said. ”I think he’s taking all the steps to make sure everything is OK. He has every right to do that, by the way.”

Before looking at his options this summer, let’s take a look at what Selanne did this season. He netted 31 goals while primarily playing on the Ducks’ second line and power play unit. His 80 points this season was good for 8th in the NHL—all while playing as an injured 40-year-old. What would he be able to do if he had two good legs to skate on?

As has seemingly been his annual tradition since the lockout, Selanne will weigh his options before committing to another season with the Ducks. Last season he proved that he still has plenty left in the tank—at this point it’s a personal decision. If he still has the fire to play, the Ducks would welcome him back with open arms.

If he decides to hang ‘em up then things will get interesting. The Ducks’ pipeline is stocked full of offensive prospects waiting to get a chance at the NHL level. Kyle Palmieri was knocking on the door last season after an impressive season in Syracuse. Brandon McMillian proved that he deserved more quality ice time while playing with the big club last season. During Thursday’s prospect camp, both Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly stated they’re aiming to make the NHL team in September (and both were impressive during the scrimmage as well). All four would be nice additions to the Ducks next season—but none are ready to step into Selanne’s skates at this point in their career. That’s not a knock on the youngers; it would be difficult for anyone to replace the future Hall of Famer in the Ducks lineup.

On the free agent market, they could be interested in someone like Tyler Kennedy or the like simply as an insurance policy if Selanne were to retire. No matter what the Ducks decide to do moving forward, Selanne probably won’t announce his intentions until later this summer. But if the surgery goes well and he decides he’s up for another 82-game grind, the Ducks could use the high-end help if they want to make it back to the playoffs.

Sharks flip the script, tie Penguins heading into third period

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Tomas Hertl #48 of the San Jose Sharks celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins (not pictured) in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the San Jose Sharks in the first period of Game 1, no doubt about it.

Even so, the Sharks entered the middle frame down 2-0, and responded rather than shriveling up. They basically switched roles with the Penguins in the second period, ultimately tying things up 2-2.

The first goal was one Matt Murray would probably like back (even more than a goalie would want any goal back, mind you), as Tomas Hertl beat him five-hole for a power-play goal.

Witness the Sharks’ first-ever goal in a Stanley Cup Final:

Fittingly, a grizzled veteran and longtime face of the Sharks’ franchise tied it up, as Patrick Marleau made it 2-2 with a clever wraparound:

Which team will win the third period? Could we see overtime? Find out on NBC.

Report: Blues will bring back Hitchcock with one-year deal

SAN JOSE, CA - MAY 21:  Ken Hitchcock of the St. Louis Blues walks on the ice in game four of the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at SAP Center on May 21, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Yes, the St. Louis Blues fell short of the Stanley Cup Final, but they still broke some playoff hexes in 2015-16. Apparently Blues management saw enough to bring back Ken Hitchcock.

That’s the word from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and Nick Kypreos, who report that the Blues are expected to announce a one-year deal with the veteran head coach on Tuesday.

Friedman wonders if these one-year pacts (Hitchcock was on one for 2015-16 as well) may chase away other staffers:

When asked about these scenarios, Hitchcock seemed like he was in favor of experiencing a perpetual “contract year.”

“I scare myself because I think if I take long-term deal, I’m gonna get sloppy,” Hitchcock told Hockey Central at Noon and Sportsnet back in mid-May. “I want to stay on one-year deals.

For plenty of fans, it makes perfect sense to bring Hitchcock back after the Blues took steps forward.

Others wonder if Hitchcock’s style (which leans toward dump-and-chase and “gritty” hockey more than some other teams) may leave the Blues in the dust, however.

That’s a debate for a bar or a message board, yet one can see deeper logic in giving Hitchcock one more shot.

While the Blues have decisions to make – including what to do with free agent captain David Backes – the team is also structured to make another run. Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, Kevin Shattenkirk and Colton Parayko all have deals that will expire after 2016-17, and each contract is a bargain.

If St. Louis believes that Hitchcock is the right fit for that personnel group, then it makes sense to give him another go.

Crosby, Rust and Sheary lead Penguins’ early charge

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 30:  Bryan Rust #17 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with Evgeni Malkin #71 after scoring a first period goal against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Consol Energy Center on May 30, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Generally speaking, the strategic talk heading into Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final focused on the San Jose Sharks’ deeper defense vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins’ blinding speed.

It’s very early, but so far: advantage Penguins.

Pittsburgh came roaring out of the gate in front of a boisterous Consol Energy Center crowd, but it took them a while to break through.

Once the Penguins did, they raced ahead to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals just 1:02 apart.

First, Bryan Rust kept his red-hot streak going with the 1-0 tally.

Moments later, Sidney Crosby made a beautiful pass to Conor Sheary to put the Penguins up two.

There were a few other moments in which the Sharks looked like they were really struggling with the Penguins’ speed, but Martin Jones made some saves that could be big if San Jose can gather its wits.

Beard breakdown: Burns vs. Thornton (Video)

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Sometimes you need to ask important questions, breaking down positional battles and strategies.

Other times you can’t help but ask “Which guy has the better beard?”

In the case of Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, the San Jose Sharks boast two players with elite beards to match their elite skills. “Jumbo Joe” drew a lot of attention for his wild facial hair, yet Burns may very well have inspired Thornton to go heavy-whisker in the first place.

The video above breaks down those two beards, in case you’re itching for a comparison.

One thing that sparks little debate? Both players’ wives are real troopers.