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Monday's Dump & Chase: THE FIRST PLACE FLORIDA PANTHERS, EVERYONE

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This is a great day for hockey. Yes, a division loaded with 3 "Original Six" teams and last year's Eastern Conference champions is being lead by... the Florida Panthers. They're fun to watch, they're good, and can beat you in a few different ways. So embrace the power of the parkway, enjoy the ride, and prepare for that barn-burning series with the Bolts in the second round.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Nashville Predators News & Notes

Top 10 saves of 2015 (Puck Daddy Year in Hockey) | Puck Daddy - Yahoo Sports
Featuring a Predators goalie...

Predators' Mike Fisher hopeful to return Monday | Tennessean
If not Monday, then soon.

Should The Predators Trade Shea Weber? - Todays SlapShot
This may be the best analysis out there on this subject, to be honest. It's stuff we (and others) have mentioned, but in a nice visual format.

Predators mailbag: Will Shea Weber rumors persist? | Tennessean
There's a divide amongst us: should the team ride out the year and trade Shea Weber during the summer OR trade a younger asset (Seth Jones) to win now? I was firmly in the latter camp earlier this year, but I'm not sure if Rinne's form allows for making a "win now" move.

Nashville Predators are the best trade fit for Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen - ESPN Insider
If Ryan Johansen is going to be traded, which NHL team makes the best destination? After diving into the data, Rob Vollman explains why it's the Nashville Predators. ($)

Other NHL News

Barkov has pair; Panthers edge Jackets - Article - TSN
Barkov plays like he has pair, indeed TSN.

Aleksander Barkov scored twice and the Panthers downed Blue Jackets 3-2 Sunday - Sun Sentinel
FIRST. PLACE. FLORIDA. PANTHERS. It warrants two links. 
(I told Harvey at the media reception during All-Star Weekend that the Panthers were making the playoffs, and DAMMIT IT BETTER HAPPEN)

Highlight Recap, Game #38: Jackets at Panthers - The Cannon
Check out the last few paragraphs before viewing the tweet posted below. Go on... read 'em.

Now:

IIHF World Junior Championship: Five things learned from Day 2 | 2016 World Junior Championship
We're all kinda bummed that Fiala opted to stay home. He would've been fun to watch.

As Crosby, Ovechkin get older, a new wave of stars is catching up to them - CBSSports.com
So it's a good idea to hold on to younger players, no?

Ducks back on ice with a feeling of renewal - The Orange County Register
Getzlaf is still looking for the Monstar that stole his talent.

Sources: Evander Kane is subject of sex offense investigation - City & Region - The Buffalo News
The Sabres told Sportsnet that they have acknowledged this as well.

Shannon Szabados registers 1st shutout in men's pro hockey - Hockey - CBC
Edmonton-native Shannon Szabados led the Columbus Cottonmouths to a 3-0 win Saturday night, registering the first shutout for a female goalie in a men's professional hockey game.

DraftKings files lawsuit against Illinois attorney general Lisa Madigan after declaring daily fantasy sports illegal gambling
One day after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan declared daily fantasy sports betting illegal, DraftKings and FanDuel filed separate lawsuits and asked for an expedited opinion.

Banged-Up Bruins Have Little Room For Error In Crowded Atlantic Division | Boston Bruins | NESN.com
Especially if the Lightning get healthy, that is. And everyone's playing catch-up to the FIRST PLACE FLORIDA PANTHERS.

Gotta See It: Benn takes cheap shot from Bortuzzo - Sportsnet.ca
Afterwards, Travis Moen went after Bort. Reeves tried to take on Moen, but he wanted Bort.

Lightning owner has honored $10 million worth of Community Heroes | TBO.com and The Tampa Tribune
I failed to mention this during the trip diary, but Stamkos read off the accolades of the Community Hero (in a recorded video) before she was introduced last Tuesday. That's a very cool feature that adds a bit more personality to it. And that's a lot of money.

With '15 almost gone, so is tanking in the NHL | Toronto Sun
Raise your hand if you believe this. '

Another setback? No Letang for Penguins tonight | ProHockeyTalk
He's being held out for "precautionary reasons."

Not Hockey

Where to Eat on New Year’s Eve in Nashville - Eater Nashville
Glad to see my condo left off of this year's list, to be honest.

J.J. Watt is still mad that Zach Mettenberger took a selfie last October - SBNation.com
Still.

The Force Awakens: all the unanswered questions and mysteries | The Verge
Spoiler warning: This piece contains major spoilers for The Force Awakens. We are not responsible if you want to click on this piece and haven't seen the movie.