Emery and Holtby fight

The Chip ‘n’ Chase: ‘All this supplementary discipline,’ creative suspensions, Giroux hasn’t scored yet, 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 I have to admit, I was really struck by something John Tortorella said earlier this week about the need for players to police themselves. I’m not sure I agree with his argument entirely, but I definitely miss the days when hockey fans didn’t scream for a suspension after every single questionable play. Instead, they screamed for revenge. Good, old-fashioned revenge. I dunno, maybe it’s because we have to write about every single questionable play that I feel this way. Or maybe I’m just getting old and turning into one of those guys who remembers the past being better than it actually was. I just think “all this supplementary discipline and all this crap that comes after,” as Torts put it, is exhausting.

Mike Halford: That was so old school it was written on a typewriter and sent to me via telefax. And you know what? I LIKED IT.  I fondly remember the days when a cheap hit was cause to check the calendar for when the two teams played next. Now, you head to Twitter and debate @hawkey_bra1111 about suspension length while waiting to find out if it’s an in-person or phone hearing. It’s a lot less fun. Speaking of less fun, what do you figure Brendan Shanahan — the guy in charge of “all this crap that comes after” — thinks about this? Shanny (it’s OK, we’re tight) wasn’t exactly a saint when he played (see here and here and here and here) and fought nearly 100 times during his career. Think his old-school mentality sometimes clashes with his job?

source: Getty ImagesJB: I think Shanny genuinely believes in what he’s doing, which is trying to make the game safer than it was when he was playing. But yeah, I’m sure he pines for the old days sometimes. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes fake suspension videos as a form of stress therapy. “The NHL has decided to suspend Maxim Lapierre for one game and will also force him to fight a player of San Jose’s choosing.” Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the league needs to start doing — creative suspensions, like some judges do. For example, if you injure a San Jose player, you have to spend five minutes swimming with sharks. Or if you injure a Colorado player, you get pelted with snowballs, like you’re in an avalanche. Or if you injure a Buffalo player, you get your hands cut off by a gigantic sword.

MH: I think the NHLPA might take issue with that last one, unless the hands go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund. You know what else is tough about Shanahan’s job? When a situation goes FUBAR and there’s no rule in place to address it. Like the Emery-Holtby incident. Suspending goalies for leaving the crease to fight was never a consideration before, but now it’s being considered. For the record, I will be sad if they take away goalie fights, because goalie fights are to the NHL what fat sumo suits are to Thirsty Thursday at the student union. Anyway, let’s shift gears to tonight’s big game: Rangers versus Penguins. Is it me, or have we written nothing about the Pens this year? They’re just so…not a complete disaster. First-place team, Sidney Crosby’s healthy and Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t melted down. It clearly doesn’t mesh with PHT’s editorial mandate of writing billions of posts about teams that resemble a garbage fire. We are jackals.

JB: We are total jackals, aren’t we. Just lurking in the shadows waiting for the next carcass to pick over. Wait, is that what jackals do? Maybe we’re vultures. Whatever, we’re just giving the people what they want. You’re right; the Pens are extremely boring this year. I mean, I guess their fans don’t feel that way; they probably think it’s pretty exciting watching Crosby pile up points and Fleury make saves as opposed to allowing comically bad goals. But for the other 29 teams’ fans? Borrrrrr-ing. They’d rather Crosby struggle like, say, Claude Giroux is struggling. If it’s not their team, they want to read about failure. Utter, humiliating failure. By the way, still no goals for Philly’s captain. Know how I know that? I check this website every day. And I follow this account on Twitter.

MH: I’m waiting on Twitter accounts for fellow zero-goal scorers Martin Erat (19 goals in 2011-12), David Desharnais (16 in ’11-12) and Tomas Kopecky (15 in 47 games last year). Kopecky deserves special mention because no forward in the NHL has taken more shots (37) this year without scoring. The only worse Panthers-related numbers are the team’s 50/50 payouts. See? This is what people want to hear — the fact last night’s 50/50 prize was only $1,598 because empty seats don’t typically purchase 50/50 tickets. Officially, attendance was 12,035 versus the Oilers, but there’s no way there were that many people in the building.

source: Getty ImagesJB: Move the Panthers to Quebec City! Or Seattle! Or Las Vegas! Or, another idea would be to win some damn games. I always enjoy when people rip a market for attendance and conveniently ignore the fact the team has been absolutely dreadful. I’m not saying Sunrise is a great place to put an NHL team, but come on, the Panthers have been to the playoffs twice in the new millennium. That’s not the way to build a fanbase. Maybe Blackhawks, Bruins and Penguins fans have forgotten when their rinks had thousands of empty seats. Which is weird, because it wasn’t that long ago. Anyway, Dale Tallon has a real mess on his hands. He’s vowing to fix it. I just don’t know if that’s going to be possible by trading Ryan Whitney. Might take a bit more than that.

Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.

Greiss blanks Stars as Isles win in first game of post-Capuano era

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 19:  Doug Weight of the New York Islanders handles his first game as head coach against the Dallas Stars at the Barclays Center on January 19, 2017 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New York Islanders began the Doug Weight era in the same way Jack Capuano’s ended: with a shutout.

Yeah, it’s easy to forget that the Islanders actually won their last game under Capuano, consider all that’s happened since.

They blanked the Boston Bruins 4-0 on Monday and generated a 3-0 shutout against the Dallas Stars on Thursday. It’s quite a feather in the cap of goalie Thomas Greiss, who owns these back-to-back shutouts.

(It’s worth mentioning that, for all the Bruins’ and Stars’ flaws, they can be very explosive on offense …)

That Monday shutout wasn’t enough for Capuano to save his job, and the Isles still have a long way to go after this encouraging outcome. The East’s second wild card spot still seems like a long shot for Weight & Co.

Even so, the Islanders will take it. They play their next five games at home and seven of eight in Brooklyn, so if there’s ever a time for movement, it would logically come now.

If nothing else, maybe life will be a bit better for John Tavares. He scored another goal on Thursday to add to his beautiful 1-0 tally.

Baby steps, right?