The Chip ‘n’ Chase: ‘All this supplementary discipline,’ creative suspensions, Giroux hasn’t scored yet, and more


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.

The Buzzer: Kane nets four; Preds first to clinch

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Players of the Night:

Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks: It took him 565 NHL games and three teams, but Kane now has his first NHL hat trick. Then he made sure to grab his first four-goal NHL game for the hell of it. Kane has five goals and 10 points in eight games since the trade deadline, the most of any player dealt this year on deadline day.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators: Hoffman had an assist in regulation and then one-timed his fifth game-winning goal of the season in overtime to help the Senators past the Dallas Stars.

Nashville Predators: For no other reason than they claimed first blood in a 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche, becoming the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot.

Highlights of the Night:

Bravo, Johnny:

Kane’s hat trick goal:



Factoids of the Night:


Senators 3, Stars 2 (OT)

Capitals 6, Islanders 3

Predators 4, Avalanche 2

Sharks 7, Flames 4

Ducks 4, Red Wings 2

Wild 4, Golden Knights 2

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Rangers getting a good look at the future, despite playoff disappointment

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Silver linings for teams far off the playoff line are few and far between at this time of the year.

But if there is one that can be taken for any team looking at re-tooling or rebuilding for next season, it’s the ability to take a look at the future crop against NHL adversaries.

The New York Rangers are one of these teams. They declared themselves open for business prior to the trade deadline and dealt away some big names, including Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, for some younger talent.

They’re also facing a challenge with aging goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who, as great as he is, won’t win the battle with Father Time.

Needing to fill holes at several positions, the Rangers have been able to take a good look at a couple of promising prospects, including what may well be their future between the pipes.

New York has played rookie Alexandar Georgiev six times and owns a 3-2-0 record since he played his first NHL game on Feb. 22. Despite picking up the loss, Georgiev allowed just two goals on 40 shots for a .950 save percentage.

He’d give up four in his next start the following night, but since then has amassed three straight wins, including a 37-save performance on Wednesday against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll be called upon again on Saturday, another test and another chance for evaluation.

The inital analysis is promising. Georgiev is sitting on a very respectable .929 save percentage in his brief time in the NHL and he’s already turning heads around the league.’s Kevin Woodley’s wrote that Georgiev is taking after the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky — some pretty good company.

Blueshirt Banter’s Tom Urtz Jr. took a really deep dive in Georgiev, concluding by calling him a “pleasant surprise.”

There’s a lot to like about him, his potential is visible, and the circumstances are set up in his favor for him to be able to prove himself more in an extended setting next season,” Urtz Jr. wrote.

Shifting to the men in the rearguard, Neal Pionk is making the most the big minutes he’s been getting over the past 17 games, and he’s starting to produce.

Pionk is on a three-game point streak with five assists during that span.

Also 22 and also undrafted, Pionk, like Georgiev, is showing real promise on defense.

“He competes hard and he’s got a good skill set,” Vigneault told on Friday. “He can make that good pass and there’s no doubt that in his college and prior to that, he was considered an offensive defenseman. He’d join the rush and was good on the power play, so there is some upside there with him. We need to continue to work at his game and continue to improve it.”

The Rangers appear to have some budding young talent and an array of players to build around with the likes Pavel Buchnevich, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey — assuming they sign the latter two who are set to become RFAs at the end of this season.

And perhaps most importantly, the Rangers, who have long held the distinction as a team where old players go to get older, seem to finally be favoring youth over past-their-prime talent.

That’s good news for Rangers fans.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Ducks lose Bieksa for 2-5 weeks


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa will be out for two to five weeks after surgery to remove scar tissue from his left hand.

Bieksa is having surgery Friday, the Ducks announced.

The 36-year-old Bieksa has eight assists in 59 games this season for Anaheim, which is fighting to get into playoff position with three weeks left in the regular season.

Anaheim recalled defenseman Korbinian Holzer from its AHL affiliate in San Diego before facing the Detroit Red Wings at Honda Center on Friday night.

The Ducks have won five consecutive Pacific Division titles and made five straight postseason appearances, reaching the Western Conference finals last season. But Anaheim (35-24-12) began this weekend out of playoff position and in fourth place in the Pacific.

More AP NHL:

Canadiens need to look in mirror before moving forward


The Montreal Canadiens have been a colossal disappointment in 2017-18. Instead of building on their first-round playoff exit from last year, the Habs have bottomed out as one of the worst teams in the league from day one of the season.

The highs have been short and the lows have been long, but it sounds like current general manager Marc Bergevin will get an opportunity to improve his underwhelming roster. As owner and team president Geoff Molson reiterated at a team foundation event on Friday morning, Bergevin isn’t going anywhere.

“It has not been a satisfactory season so far,” Molson told PHT on Friday morning. “Marc and I both know that, the whole organization knows that. And I think if you asked every player, every coach and every person that’s involved, they’d all say the same thing. We have to get better. Marc knows that and I tell him that. He acknowledges that and he agrees with it, of course.

“There’s no question that I think Marc is very capable of accomplishing that, but he and I both know that this season’s been unsatisfactory.”

Don’t be mistaken, Molson also said the team will make adjustments to the way they operate before the start of next season. Someone is going to take the fall for this disaster, but it won’t be Bergevin.

When asked if the Canadiens have to make the playoffs next season, Molson hesitated before saying that he wasn’t sure how he wanted to express himself regarding next season. Those are things he wants to answer closer to next fall, but he also added that it’s important for the team to always do everything they can to be competitive every year.

Like most teams, the Habs will be in the mix for John Tavares if he becomes a free agent on July 1st. Whether or not they rebuild or retool might depend on if they can land Tavares, which has be considered a serious long shot at this point. But if he does decide to join former Team Canada teammates Carey Price and Shea Weber in Montreal, the Canadiens would once again be seen as legitimate playoff hopefuls.

“Do we need a franchise player? Probably,” said Molson, without ever mentioning the Islanders forward’s name. “And that’s something I see as an opportunity for us.”

Who knows what the plan is if they can’t land Tavares in free agency. All we really know for sure, is that the owner expects everyone to be better heading into next season. Molson isn’t putting the blame on any one particular person, but he acknowledged several times that the way this season unfolded was not acceptable.

“I’m not really going to point any fingers,” said Molson.

“So you can look at players, you can look at coaching, you can look at scouting, you can look at player development, you can look at the general manager, you could look everywhere and say there are areas to improve, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

It’ll be interesting to see just how long it takes for those improvements to turn into on-ice success for a that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup in 25 years.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.