Get your game notes: Wings at Jackets

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Columbus Blue Jackets hosting the Detroit Red Wings starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

•• Tonight’s game pits divisional rivals from 2000-01 (when Columbus entered the league as an expansion team) through 2012-13, when they played in the Central Division. The two teams departed the Western Conference to join the Eastern Conference in separate divisions for the 2013-14 season.

• On Sunday, Red Wings winger Gustav Nyquist scored two goals (his 22nd and 23rd of the season), making it goals in five consecutive games (the longest active goal streak in the NHL) for the Swede. The last time a Red Wings player scored goals in six straight games was Dan Cleary, Nov. 5-17, 2010.

• Nyquist came into the season with four goals in 40 career games over two seasons, and he didn’t make his season debut until Nov. 21 (Detroit’s 23rd game). He scored five goals in his first 23 games, but has 18 goals in his last 23 games since Jan. 20, the most in the NHL over that span. Elias Sports Bureau

• The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, has been a workhorse since returning from a groin injury that sidelined him from Dec. 6-Jan. 4, appearing in 27 of 29 games. The Russian Olympian has made 18 straight starts (10-6-2, 2.20 GAA, .934 save%, one shutout during that span), the most by any goaltender in the NHL this season. Elias Sports Bureau

• Red Wings center David Legwand carries a six-game point streak vs. Columbus into tonight’s game. Legwand is the leader among active Red Wings with 49 points in 63 games vs. the Blue Jackets (21- 28=49). All but one of those points (an assist) came while Legwand was a member of the Nashville Predators, prior to his March 5 deadline-day trade to Detroit. Legwand has seven points (two goals) in helping the Red Wings to a 5-3-2 record since the deal.

• Much in part to 350 man-games lost to injury entering tonight (second-most in the NHL, Pittsburgh – 438), seven different Red Wings have made their NHL debuts this season, the most for the franchise since 1990-91 (14). That number could go up to eight if Mitch Callahan, called up on Monday, plays. In the past two seasons, only five Blue Jackets have made their NHL debuts. The only healthy players in tonight’s game who debuted this season are Luke Glendening (DET) and Boone Jenner (CBJ).

• The Blue Jackets have gone nine games and 36 power-play opportunities since center Artem Anisimov scored with a Columbus man advantage on Mar. 4, the day before the NHL trade deadline. They are closing in on a franchise record for power-play futility (42 consecutive failed chances, Mar. 9- Apr. 1, 2011). Their breakthrough could come tonight, as the Red Wings have allowed a power-play goal in five straight games.

• With a regulation victory, Columbus would tie Detroit with 80 points, with the Blue Jackets holding the tiebreaker over their fellow Eastern Conference newcomers (more non-shootout wins). Since entering the league as an expansion team in the 2000-01 season, Columbus has never finished above Detroit in the final regular-season standings.

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.

Hjalmarsson shocked by Blackhawks trade, but Coyotes could improve soon

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Who could blame Niklas Hjalmarsson for being surprised that the Chicago Blackhawks traded him? The move blindsided … well, just about everyone outside of the Blackhawks organization, after all.

“It’s going to take some time to get used to that thought,” Hjalmarsson said, according to the Arizona Republic. “At the same time, I’m trying to always be a positive guy.”

Indeed, the 30-year-old defenseman did his best to say all the right things about the Arizona Coyotes, praising a roster that includes “a lot of young and promising players.”

MORE on the trade here

Described by some as the NHL’s best pure defensive defenseman, Hjalmarsson also gives the Coyotes good reason to be excited by a blueline that’s suddenly quite competitive. Consider the quartet that GM John Chayka helped assemble:

Hjalmarsson: An often-underrated part of the Blackhawks’ run. Consider some of the praise he received even before this move was made.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson: One of the league’s best-kept secrets, “OEL” ranks as one of the most dangerous scoring defensemen. At 25, he’s still deep in his prime.

Alex Goligoski: When you consider the Dallas Stars’ lost 2016-17 season, don’t dismiss the absence of “Gogo.” He might not be perfect, but the 31-year-old is the sort of puck-mover you need to excel in the modern game.

Jakob Chychrun: At 19, he’s already getting reps at the NHL level. The Coyotes could pair him with a veteran and watch him grow.

***

When you look at those four, in particular, it’s easier to see Hjalmarsson’s excitement as more than just lip service. It probably doesn’t hurt that the Coyotes also added Derek Stepan, another sign that this franchise is taking the next step after absorbing other franchises’ problem contracts in the likes of Dave Bolland and Pavel Datsyuk’s last year.

Granted, it will still be an adjustment, as the Coyotes are likely aiming for “respectable” while anything less that a deep run was unacceptable for the Blackhawks.

Still, Hjalmarsson has plenty of power to make this move more palatable than it may have initially seemed.

And, hey, who would blame him for circling Oct. 21 on his calendar?