The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Pens-Bruins, Beastmodo, Miller trade talk, and more

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This is a new thing we’re trying. Every Wednesday, we’ll publish a little back-and-forth we have via email. We’re calling it the Chip ‘n’ Chase. Yes, it’s a terrible name. Enjoy.

Jason Brough: Hey buddy, so Bruins-Penguins tonight. Looking forward to this one. Pittsburgh’s chance for redemption…if that’s possible during the regular season. (It’s not, but the game’s on NBCSN so we’re selling it anyway.) Looking back on the playoffs, I still can’t believe the Pens only scored twice against the B’s in four games. Two goals. That’s it. Kinda reminds me of that Harry Doyle line in Major League: “That’s all we got, one goddamn hit?” Wait, can we say goddamn on PHT? Whatever, let’s run with it. In a related story, do you think we’ll hear about the Bruins’ “layers” before or after this one? We all know Claude Julien loves him some layers.

Mike Halford: Oh man, the layers. How could I forget the layers? Julien spent the entire playoffs talking like his team was a Tex-Mex dip. Anyway, I’m also excited for tonight’s game. What I remember most about that series was the bitterness — Evgeni Malkin fighting Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara punching Sidney Crosby in his surgically repaired jaw — all of which added to Pittsburgh’s patented off-the-charts frustration. It also served as a reminder that, as much as they say they’ve matured, the Pens can still be rattled, especially if you sock ’em, POW, right in the kisser. Oh, and since we’re on the subject of firing shots, Mike Babcock threw one out in advance of another good Wednesday matchup: Detroit at Vancouver. When asked how he’d handle the red-hot Sedins-Kesler line, Babcock replied, “We’ll see who’s handling who.” No need to find the waitress, Vancouver, because you just got served.

MORE: Penguins, Bruins renew hostilities

JB: Did you hear what they’re calling the Sedins-Kesler line? Beastmodo. Get it? Because the Sedins played for Modo in Sweden and Kesler’s a big Marshawn Lynch fan or something. I think a better nickname for that line would be “the first line..and also the second line” line, because those three have been playing a ton under new head coach John Tortorella. In fact, among NHL forwards, only Sidney Crosby (22:52) is averaging more ice time than Kesler (22:38), Henrik (22:28), and Daniel (22:14). Good thing it’s not an Olympic year or anything. And Vancouver has an easy travel schedule, right? I actually don’t have a huge problem with it, but it will be interesting to see how those guys look once the playoffs start. Either way, I can’t wait until Torts has to start answering the fatigue questions every day from reporters. That was always fun when he was coaching the Rangers. Dan Girardi could’ve been face down with seven IVs stuck into his back and Torts would’ve refused to admit his players were tired.

source:  MH: Pretty sure you don’t put IVs into a guy’s back, Hollywood Upstairs Medical College. Can we talk about the Vanek trade for a sec? I know it’s a bit old already, but all these new details keep coming out. First we learned Buffalo retained a bunch of Vanek’s salary. Then we found out the Isles could defer the ’14 pick if it’s in the top 10. I feel like there’s one more hidden clause, some sort of future consideration where Ryan Miller would agree to go to Long Island if the team would 1) win more than one game in a row (it hasn’t yet, by the way) or 2) use its celebrity super-fan network of Ralph Macchio and E from Entourage to hatch a comedic vehicle for Miller’s wife. But in all seriousness, Miller has to go soon, right? I read something about that on a very handsome website yesterday.

JB: I wonder if he’d go to the Islanders. They could definitely use a goalie, and he seems like the kind of guy who’d enjoy Brooklyn’s hipster scene. But rumor has it (and by rumor I mean TSN’s Bob McKenzie) that Miller wants to end up in California. I presume this is because his wife is an actor and that’s where actors live, as opposed to Buffalo, where disappointed sports fans live. Unfortunately for Miller, I just can’t think of a California team that needs a starting goalie. The Kings don’t. The Ducks don’t. The Sharks don’t. Maybe he could try out for the Lakers, but they really need to get younger.

MH: I think Miller’s best hockey fit is in the glitzy and glamorous town of Edmonton (hey, it’s got a film festival). But even if he agreed to go there, I don’t see anything beyond a rental situation, which would only be a band-aid solution to the Oilers’ gaping goaltending wound. I’m glad you brought up the California teams, though, because they’re all playing well, and they all play in the Pacific Division, which should really be renamed the $2 Steak Division because it’s so tough and no worse a name than Metropolitan. Can you disagree with any of this? I don’t think you can.

JB: Don’t forget about Phoenix and Vancouver. Those teams are playing well, too. So yeah, tough division that Pacific Division. Good luck with that, Edmonton and Calgary. Personally, I’ve been really impressed with Anaheim. I thought they’d take a step back this season, but a 10-3-0 start seems to be proving me wrong. (I’m used to it, don’t worry.) Everyone knows about Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, but the Ducks are also getting contributions from lesser-knowns like Kyle Palmieri, Mathieu Perreault, Patrick Maroon, and Nicky Bonino, whose name actually isn’t Nicky, it’s just Nick, but I enjoy saying Nicky Bonino. Fuhgeddaboudit. Until next week…

2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class to be named Monday; Selanne + who?

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The 2017 Hockey Hall of Fame class is expected to be announced on Monday, and every indication is that Teemu Selanne will be on the list. Beyond that, well, there are a lot of question marks.

NHL.com notes that there’s at least a possibility that Selanne will be the only NHL name to be part of this class, which would mark a first since 2010 (when Dino Ciccarelli was the lone addition).

It’s a nice way to continue what’s been a buffet for hockey fans: the 2017 Stanley Cup Final’s conclusion, the expansion draft and then the 2017 NHL Draft. The HHOF announcements are nice appetizer before free agency gets, well, frenzied?

“The Finnish Flash” was also an obvious top choice in last year’s poll to see who should be in the class.

Now, that doesn’t mean he is the only interesting name.

For one thing, Daniel Alfredsson will be eligible for the first time, much like Selanne. “Alf” falls in the “Maybe” category with some interesting, debatable other options: Mark Recchi, Dave Andreychuk, Alex Mogilny, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Kariya, Chris Osgood, and more.

The 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame class included Eric Lindross, Rogie Vachon, Sergei Makarov, and Pat Quinn.

Florida Panthers aren’t afraid to change, but will they actually improve?

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Change is often a necessary thing in sports, and the results can be swift and brutal. There’s a fine line between rolling with the punches and blindly swinging, however.

The Florida Panthers’ history as a franchise makes you wonder if they’ll ever find the right balance between stability and innovation. Amid all these years of flip-flopping and regime tweaks, there may only be one unsettling constant: the on-ice product being middling-to-terrible.

Just look at the way they burn through coaches.

Six of their 14 head coaches were behind the bench for fewer than 82 games, including Tom Rowe, who was seemingly thrown out with the analytical approach last season.

Their GMs haven’t fared much better. Dale Tallon’s probably received the longest leash of them all, and this past year or so made a mess of that situation. And it’s arguable that things have only degraded as Tallon aims to clean up supposed “messes.”

The Panthers didn’t just lose cheap 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault to Vegas; they also shipped Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights. Smith was a golden boy of sorts to the more stats-leaning members of the franchise, and while he struggled last season, it sure seemed like the Panthers were eager to get rid of him.

The same could be said about Jason Demers.

MORE: Welcome Demers to the trade rumor mill

As abrupt as the Gerard Gallant firing felt, the Panthers didn’t necessarily give the analytical approach much time. At least from an “optics” standpoint.

Now, parting ways with Marchessault, Smith, and possibly Demers may end up being reasonable in hindsight. Still, there’s no denying that Tallon made some mistakes in his stead; the “computer boys” didn’t sign an atrocious Dave Bolland contract and didn’t pick Erik Gudbranson over superior talent.

The bottom line is that the Panthers haven’t won a playoff series since John Vanbiesbrouck led them to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final. There’s legitimate concern that this franchise will keep making the same mistakes – and keep changing the cooks in the kitchen – while the results leave much to be desired.

Will Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau share the same frustrating path as Jay Bouwmeester and others before them?

This summer could serve as a serious fork in the road, as Tallon has some building blocks in place and an estimated $20 million in cap space. Even if the Panthers remain a budget team, they’re likely to have some room to work with.

Perhaps they’ll finally make the right changes?

Related

Panthers look to be aggressive in adding scoring

Devils will give top pick Hischier a chance to make team right away

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There’s at least some question regarding whether Nico Hischier is ready to jump straight from being the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft to becoming an immediate part of the New Jersey Devils’ roster.

If he went back to junior, it would break a lengthy trend of No. 1 choices going to the big time right away.

Devils GM Ray Shero seems pretty optimistic that he can handle that jump, though, as you can see from this presser via MSG:

MORE: Devils pick Hischier over Patrick

As one would expect, Shero said that the Devils won’t rush him if it’s “apparent” that the Swiss-born forward isn’t ready. Still, Shero seems convinced that Hischier has the size, skill, and smarts to earn a spot.

Much like Nolan Patrick with the Philadelphia Flyers, Hischier didn’t deny that he wants to make the big time right off the bat.

“Yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s my goal, so it is important for sure,” Hischier said on draft night. “I really want to achieve my goal, but I still know I have to prove a lot of things to play there.”

Hey, maybe Taylor Hall could even ease his adjustment?

Burns and Thornton pose nude for ESPN Body Issue, and yes, it’s weird

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Hey, have you ever wanted to see Brent Burns and Joe Thornton essentially line up against each other naked?

Well, ESPN the Magazine interrupted your answer either way, going ahead and doing it for their vaunted Body Issue.

Considering Thornton’s UFA status, there’s at least an outside chance that this will be their final action together as members of the San Jose Sharks.

This is your last chance not to scroll and see Thornton, Burns, beards, tattoos, and not a whole lot else.

/waits

Former teammate Jason Demers captured it on Twitter, making it his background, and generally winning the Internet for the day:

Did anyone else think about Thornton’s line after Tomas Hertl scored four goals? No? OK.

The real highlight might be Burns and Thornton giggling in robes, honestly.

Click here for more on that issue, including information on U.S. women’s ice hockey team members who will also be featured.