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.

WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings

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The Minnesota Wild are looking to snap out of their recent slump that has seen them stumble down the stretch run of the regular season.

After getting embarrassed on home ice on Saturday afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks they are back in action on Sunday afternoon in Detroit against the Red Wings. It is their last ever visit to Joe Louis Arena before the building closes at the end of this season.

All of the action begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

Follow all of the action there, or via our Live Stream.

Click here for the Live Stream

Preview: Wild look to bounce back from embarrassing loss

 

Crosby on criticism from Sens owner Melnyk: ‘He likes to hear himself talk, so let’s just leave it’

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One day after Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot had the tip of his finger busted apart by a Sidney Crosby slash, team owner Eugene Melnyk made an appearance on Ottawa radio and sounded off on Crosby. Along with calling for a lengthy suspension for the Penguins’ captain, Melnyk referred to Crosby as a “whiner beyond belief.”

It was all part of a pretty eventful for week for Crosby that saw him not only extend his lead in the NHL goal scoring race, but also be involved in a couple of stick incidents (the slash on Methot, a spearing incident involving Ryan O'Reilly) that should have been penalized.

On Sunday, Crosby was finally asked about Melnyk’s criticism and he did not really seem to have much interest in addressing it.

“I’m just going to leave it,” Crosby said following the team’s morning skate. “He likes to hear himself talk, so let’s just leave it. It was four days ago.”

As bad as the result was (and it was terrible for Methot), the NHL was never going to suspend somebody for that type of slash.

The department of player safety has only suspended two players for slashing since it came into existence (it has also never suspended a player for spearing).

The bigger issue is that slashes like that are, unfortunately, accepted as part of the game and get overlooked so consistently during games.

NHL analyst Mike Johnson put together a pretty lengthy compilation over the weekend of Senators players (including Methot) being guilty of the same type of slashing incidents. They should be penalized, including this one. But the unfortunate result of this particular one was never going to escalate it to any sort of supplemental discipline. Keep in mind that earlier this season Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau had his hand broken in a game after he was on the receiving end of no fewer than 15 slashes from the Minnesota Wild, resulting in no discipline from the league (and only one penalty during the game).

This is not the first time Melnyk has gone off regarding an incident with the Penguins.

A few years back he launched a “forensic investigation” into determining whether or not Matt Cooke intentionally sliced Erik Karlsson‘s achilles tendon with his skate blade during the 2012-13 season. He continued to seek out ways to have Cooke punished for the incident following it.

It sure would be something if these two teams ended up meeting in the playoffs this season.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Flyers as chase for top spot in Metropolitan continues

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The second game on the NBC networks on Sunday will feature Keystone state rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET, and you can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

The Penguins, currently in a three-team race (along with the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets) for the Metropolitan Division crown, are still dealing with a mountain of injuries that has them playing without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, Olli Maatta, and Ron Hainsey. Even with that injured list they are still finding a way to collect points in the standings and enter Sunday’s game with an 8-1-3 record over their past 12 games.

They enter the day three points back of the Capitals for the top spot in the division and the entire league.

They have dropped two consecutive games in a shootout and are looking to avoid what would be their first three-game losing streak since January (it is also their only three-game losing streak of the season).

Given that they have been without their second best player, pretty much an entire top-four on defense (including their No. 1 defenseman), and a couple of other key forwards this has been an incredible run over the past few weeks. It speaks not only to the depth of the organization, but also to the way the top players, specifically Sidney Crosby, have been able to carry the team through the injuries in recent weeks.

Crosby has eight goals and 12 points over the past eight games alone as he tries to secure his second goal scoring crown and keep pace with Connor McDavid in the Art Ross race.

On Sunday evening the Penguins will wrap up their season series with the Flyers and are looking to win it. The Penguins won the first two meetings of the season, including a 4-2 win in the Stadium Series at Heinz Field back in February. The Flyers however won the last meeting, shutting out the Penguins 4-0 in Philadelphia earlier this month.

While the Penguins are competing for the top spot in the NHL, the Flyers are simply looking to salvage something from a season that has turned into a pretty big disappointment after appearing to be trending in the right direction back in December when they put together a 10-game winning streak. Since that winning streak however the Flyers have gone just 15-22-5 and are going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years and the third time in the past five.

The one bright spot for the Flyers this season has been the play of power forward Wayne Simmonds who is just one goal away from recording his second straight 30-goal season.

NHL on NBC: Wild look to bounce back after embarrassing loss

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With losses in 10 of their 13 games so far in the month of March the Minnesota Wild are fading during the stretch run of the 2016-17 season.

It is a slump that has almost certainly cost them the Central Division crown (something they seemed destined to win as recently as a month ago) and has caused some concern with the playoffs just around the corner.

Things seemed to only get worse on Saturday when they were embarrassed on home ice by the Vancouver Canucks, a defeat that prompted coach Bruce Boudreau to pretty much rip into his team’s effort.

The only good news is they do not have to wait long to get back on the ice and get rid of the sour taste that effort left.

They will be making their final trip to Joe Louis Arena on Sunday afternoon when they visit the Detroit Red Wings. All of the action can be seen on NBC or via our Live Stream. Puck drop is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.

While the Wild, a team that is headed to the playoffs and had been in contention for a division crown, is playing some of its worst hockey of the season right now, the Red Wings, a team going nowhere this season with nothing to play for, has put together a nice little run in recent weeks with a 3-1-1 record in its past five games, collecting seven out of a possible 10 points. Henrik Zetterberg, still the team’s best player even at age 36, has been playing especially well for the Red Wings over the last quarter of the season, collecting 30 points in his past 26 games. That includes five multi-point games in the month of March alone.

After Saturday’s loss to Vancouver the Wild now find themselves eight points back of the Blackhawks in the standings with eight games to play. This after the Wild held a five-point lead over the Blackhawks (with a game in hand) when the month of March began. That is a massive swing in the standings in a very short period of time, and will likely result in Boudreau failing to win a division title for just the second time in his career as an NHL coach.

Still, the Wild know they are going to the playoffs (they actually clinched a spot on Saturday, even with the loss to Vancouver) and they know they are now likely to be the second place team in the Central Division and get a first-round matchup with either the Nashville Predators or St. Louis Blues. Still, this is not the way they want to be heading into the playoffs.

They would probably like to start getting things back in the right direction on Sunday.