Chat with Scott Burnside
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Scott Burnside (4:06 PM)
Greetings from Newark. I was going to say Asbury Park but, well, I'm not sure where that is.
I'm a CBJ homer, but I am still convinced of this. Was the Blue Jackets' 4 game winning streak the most impressive such streak of this season for any team? Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago. All in a week.
Scott Burnside (4:08 PM)
No shame in being a homer given the way the Blue Jackets have played lately and I will agree an impressive stretch for a team that's still very much learning how to win. Still, after a disappointing loss to Detroit the key is not to go off the rails. Remember the Coyotes at the All-Star break? I think they hit the break in 5th and haven't been heard from since. Don't think the Blue Jackets have that kind of slide in them but this is crunch time.
Tom (River North)
Scott, at the beginning of the year, some of your colleagues cough *lebrun* cough were talking about the Sharks being one of the best teams ever. As the season winds down, the Wings are getting healthy and looking good. Do you think they shoot for home ice or does it mean more to San Jose/Boston?
Scott Burnside (4:10 PM)
You will never see me publicly disagree with my colleague Pierre LeBrun. Or hardly ever. To your question, though, never underestimate the importance of home ice. I always think of Tampa winning Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final in 2004 in Tampa and then next round winning it all at home in Game 7. Or Carolina winning both the conference and Stanley Cup final at home in 2006. I know, Wings win the Presidents' Trophy in 2006 and bow out in the first round but it's a big deal.
How wide open do you think the Eastern Conference playoffs will be this time around?
Scott Burnside (4:12 PM)
If you mean how close are the teams that will end up in the top eight I think as close as they can be. The Bruins are struggling and even if they end up with the top seed is it possible they could lose to a Carolina or the Rangers? Sure. I think the Devils are as good a team as there is in the conference right now and maybe the closest thing to a sure bet to get through the first round but even then they could end up with the Rangers or Pittsburgh and who knows what could happen there. Should be fun.
Looks like Brian Pothier will suit up for the Caps tonight. Do you think he will help the suspect defense?
Scott Burnside (4:13 PM)
This is a great story if Pothier can get back and stay healthy. He hasn't played in well over a year and if he's healthy he gives the Caps another solid, puck-moving defenseman. His potential return to the line-up was one of the reasons GM George McPhee didn't blow his brains out trying to land a defenseman at the trade deadline.
Adam (Los Angeles)
Do you think the Hurricanes ride Wards play into a return to the second season? On that note is Ward finally turning into the ellite goaltender many thought he would be?
Scott Burnside (4:15 PM)
Cam Ward has been a bit of an enigma since winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. I thought he was full value for that honor - unlike some including my colleague Mr. LeBrun - but he has struggled to find the consistency of the top goalies like Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur and Henrik Lundqvist. His play in the second half of this season has been terrific, though, and will be a major factor if the 'Canes make it to the playoffs. But before anyone gets too excited I think it's going to take another strong playoff run before Ward's stock truly returns to where it was.
Greg (Chicago, IL)
Hey Scott - With the season winding down, who would you say are your top contenders for the Hart Trophy?
Scott Burnside (4:17 PM)
It's going to be a great debate, maybe the most fierce in a number of years. I like Evgeni Malkin and not just because he's the NHL's scoring leader (although that helps). He has really carried a Penguins team that looked like it was going to bottom out midway through the season. He does it all, plays both ends of the ice really well, is surprisingly physical and competes like crazy. He just doesn't have the outward emotion of his countryman Alexander Ovechkin who I think will end up with the trophy for the second straight year. Watch for Zach Parise to get a place on the final ballot, though.
James (New York_
Burn Baby Burn, big matchup tomorrow between the Habs and the Blueshirts. Who do you think will come out on top and which team is more poised to make a deep run in the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
James, agree entirely. Should be fun to watch. With the 'Canes having a heavy home schedule down the stretch it is possible that either the Habs or the Rangers are the odd man out when the dust clears a month from now. The Habs have looked miserable even since Bob Gainey took over and the Rangers got a huge boost Sunday with a win over Philly to prevent a weekend sweep. Rangers in OT.
Dave (Chicago, IL)
Have the injuries finally caught up to the Blackhawks? Or are they not quite the team that we saw over the first half? Please tell me we can save home-ice for round 1.
Scott Burnside (4:20 PM)
This is gut-check time for the Blackhawks. I had a chance to talk to Joel Quenneville at the end of that long road trip and they were playing so well but you got the sense that he knew it wasn't going to be a cakewalk to playoffs. They're still a playoff team but unless they manage to find that groove again they'll be one and done which would be too bad after such a strong start and with such buzz around the team. Still, these are the learning steps. You don't just get to jump from being ordinary to being a Cup contender. It's a cliche but it's a process and this is part of the process for the 'Hawks right now.
I know he has NO SHOT to win it, but shouldn't Mark Streit be in the Norris Trophy conversation?
Scott Burnside (4:21 PM)
No. Not really. Not to diminish his importance to the Isles - and wouldnt' the Habs have loved to have him this year? - but he's not in the same league as Nicklas Lidstrom or some of the other top defenders in terms of his all-around game.
Jonathan (Wellesley, MA)
Even with the recent struggles of the Bruins, doesn't Claude Julien take home the Jack Adams?
Scott Burnside (4:23 PM)
No question Claude Julien has done an terrific job in imposing a new culture on a perpetually bad franchise. And he will get some consideration. But I think guys like Brent Sutter (no Brodeur), Barry Trotz (no scoring) and Ken Hitchcock (no centers) will likely get the nod ahead of Julien.
Stick a fork in my wild, they are done. There also seems to be a rising sentiment in the State of Hockey that the wild needs to have a fire sale and start from scratch. Save only Koivu, Backstrom and Burns. Your thoughts?
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
Interesting times ahead for the Wild. They are the model of consistency. Unfortunately that follows through on their consistent inability to get over the hump. Agreed they are done as far as the playoffs are concerned. As much as it might make sense, though, I would be surprised if ownership made a move. Craig Leipold is fresh in his new digs as owner having savaged his old franchise in Nashville so I don't see him making too many waves at this point.
Abdul (Toronto, ON)
Slats got a lot of criticism on trade deadline day for bringing in Avery, Antropov and Morris. 6 games later, seems like a lot of people were wrong. Avery and Antropov have quickly become Broadway's best forwards. What do you think about the new look Rangers?
Scott Burnside (4:27 PM)
I don't think the criticism of Glen Sather was directed at his trade deadline moves which I thought were prudent but rather his mangling of his team's contract situation thanks to ridiculous contracts awarded Markus Naslund, Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival among others.
Sean Avery (NY, NY)
Given my recent level of play, do you think sports writers are going to admit that I put their feet in their mouths?
Scott Burnside (4:28 PM)
Well Sean you are the master of the foot in mouth disease. But I digress. I don't think many, if any, hockey writers debated your ability to play the game. The issue was whether you could play the game without being such a jerk all the time. It appears, in the short-term, you can.
Bill (Pomona California)
Hey Scott, we haven't seen Williams in a Kings jersey on the ice yet. I think the Kings will come up a little short of the playoffs this year. So who do we get via a realistic trade or FA that gets us over the top? Thanks!
Scott Burnside (4:29 PM)
Agreed that the Kings aren't quite there yet. Next year? Yes. Or let's put it this way, they better be. As for Justin Williams he will be like getting a free agent in the summer but at a better value. Assuming he can come back at full health he is a 30-goal guy who's won a Cup and should be a boon to the young Kings' dressing room.
Phil (philadelphia, PA)
I know it's a stretch, but is there any way the flyers can move briere and that hideous contract this summer to make room for boumeester or another player? is there ANYONE out there who not only wants, but can afford briere?
Scott Burnside (4:30 PM)
No. I would venture to say not one single team.
Dan (New York, NY)
Could Byslma be considered for the Jack Adams if the pens finish as the 4 seed in the east? They might not lose a game in regulation. This team is as dangerous as they come. They will win the east.
Scott Burnside (4:32 PM)
No. Fair or not too small a body of work. He could, however, secure himself a nice, long contract if he can manage to get the Pens into home ice for the first round.
ed chiles Davison, MI
Is it going yo be Ozzie or Conks for Detroit in the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (4:33 PM)
Do you mean at the beginning or the end? I think it's a given that Ty Conklin will be the starting netminder when the Wings begin their Cup defense. Will he be there when they finish, wherever they finish? I'd say the chances are no better than 50-50 given Osgood's experience and his play last spring in relief of Dominik Hasek. In other words Ty will have a pretty short leash I'm guessing.
In your opinion, with the Pens playing the way they have been the last month, how far do you anticipate them going into the playoffs, now with the addition of some grit (Kunitz) and some added experience (Guerin)?
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
I think they're one of the most dangerous teams in the conference and if they can avoid a team like New Jersey in the first round they have a chance to go deep once again. But there are a lot of interesting potential match-ups; Pittsburgh/Philly, Pittsburgh/Montreal. But right now they are a very dangerous team and still have two of the top centers in the game which will be a handful for whomever they meet.
Jeremy San Jose CA)
Earlier in the season, Calgary was the one team outside of Detroit I had any real fear of for the Sharks. But as of late they're not so scary. I'm guessing the March 30th game will tell us a lot.
Scott Burnside (4:36 PM)
Made note of that this morning but the Flames have hit a real soft spot in their schedule. Agreed that they looked for a long time like a team that could challenge either the Sharks or Wings but right now their shoddy defense and spotty goaltending make them a one-and-done candidate.
Who got the better former Buffalo center the NYR in Chris Drury, or Philly with Briere?
Scott Burnside (4:37 PM)
That would be an interesting story to write this April if the Rangers and Flyers meet which is possible. Right now the Flyers have a trip to the Eastern Conference final under the belt which, fair or not, makes them the early winners. Stay tuned.
Scott, I keep hearing how the cap is scheduled to drop significantly in the 2010-2011 season. How true is this, and if so, how significant of an affect will this have?
Joe Thornton (San Jose)
Hey Scotty, hows it hangin brother. I just wanted to write in and ask a quick question: is it possible to sleep walk through 30 games and then flip a switch and start dominating in the playoffs? Thanks in advance.
Scott Burnside (4:42 PM)
Well Joe, having been part of a number of sleepwalking squads over your career you should know the answer is no. Witness the Wings in 2006 losing to the number-8 seed from Edmonton. Two years ago the Ottawa Senators hit the post-season on fire and rolled to the Stanley Cup final. Some teams with lots of veterans can find the answers quickly if they start to go sideways but often it's too late. The Sharks are the poster boys for not getting off on the right foot in the playoffs and building momentum as the post-season goes along.
Steiny (NYC) [via mobile]
What player has surprised you the most thus far this season?
Scott Burnside (4:42 PM)
I guess the obvious, easy answer is Steve Mason in Columbus. I see him not only as a candidate for rookie of the year but Vezina and Hart trophies as well. He's been spectacular. The Blue Jackets are nowhere near the post-season without him.
Scott, Osgood has looked really strong in his last couple outings and Conklin sub par with weak goals going in. Are you sure about the Conklin call to start the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (4:43 PM)
I think Conklin's terrific home record may tip the scales in his favor even if he has hit a wobble recently.
Brad (St.Louis, Mo)
Any chance for the Blues to make the playoffs
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Absolutely. The Blues have shown tremendous resiliency and may actually get Paul Kariya back. With 15 or 16 games left it's about not having a bad week. A bad game, yes, a bad week, no. And the Blues have managed to avoid those through most of the second half of the season.
no way that anyone other than OV deserves the Hart - I thought you said it was a foregone conclusion just a few weeks ago that he would win it?
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Don't dispute that he will likely win. Just said my vote - at this point in time anyway - would be for Malkin.
dustin, edmonton, alb
do you think the oilers will manage to scrape into the playoffs, and if not which teams do you think will in the west
Scott Burnside (4:46 PM)
Of all the teams in the hunt in the west the Oilers are hardest to figure out. They lose but get a point. They get waxed and then win two or three to stay in the hunt. They remind me of the Oilers team that snuck into 8th in 2006 and then went to Game 7 of the final. Well, sort of.
Who has the best chance to take the Norris away from Lidstrom?
Scott Burnside (4:49 PM)
I think Mike Green who leads all NHL defensemen with 60 points including 24 goals and is plus-20 (I know, a generally misleading stat) is the guy. He is a treat to watch and has improved his defensive play while not giving away any of the offensive production.
Steiny (NYC) [via mobile]
What do you think has been the best story in the NHL thus far?
Scott Burnside (4:50 PM)
I think the league is chock-a-block with great stories; revival in Boston and Chicago, Columbus maybe making its first playoff appearance, Florida looking to get back in for the first time since 2000, the 'Canes resurgence, Martin Brodeur's assault on Patrick Roy's record after a serious elbow injury. Too many to count and too many to pick one.
Steiny (NYC) [via mobile]
Would you ever be interested in coaching a NHL team?
Scott Burnside (4:50 PM)
And give all this up? Never.
Greg (Chicago, IL)
Ovechkin's goal celebrations: good or bad for hockey?
Scott Burnside (4:52 PM)
I like it. There's nothing contrived about it. The guy loves to score. Watch him when his teammates score, he's just as happy.
Sharon (Dallas, TX)
The Stars are determined to keep their name in the hat for the playoffs. Am I crazy to think that if they can Richards and even possibly Morrow back, they can repeat their run from last year?
Scott Burnside (4:53 PM)
I don't think you're crazy. After all I did pick them at the start of the season to win the Cup. And with goaltending like we've seen Marty Turco produce the past couple of playoff years anything is possible. Unlikely but possible. Don't look for Morrow to be back, though, and that's a killer.
Joe (Long Island, NY)
Scott, odd to hear you say the Devs are as close as there is to a sure thing in the East. Didn't you have them missing the playoffs in your preseason predictions (again)?
Scott Burnside (4:54 PM)
I don't think so. Probably last year. And the year before, too. This year I put them in just out of shame.
"two of the best centers in the game". with all due respect, what other centers are up there malkin and crosby?
Scott Burnside (4:55 PM)
Well, not to quibble but Joe Thornton, Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Richards, Marc Savard are all pretty decent pivots.
Bryce (Buffalo, NY)
Ryan Miller has started skating again. Can Buffalo squeeze into the playoffs without him back before the start?
Scott Burnside (4:57 PM)
I don't think so. Patrick Lalime hasn't been bad but Saturday's loss to Atlanta in which the Sabres gave up the tying goal with 3.5 seconds left are an example of how fine the line between being in and out of the playoffs is. Without Miller it's likely going to cost them the three or four points they need to make it. Too bad, too, as the Sabres had been impressive for much of the second half.
Jose Theodore has been inconsistent all season losing three straight and then winning three straight. Is Jose Theodore a good enough netminder to take the Caps deep in the post-season?
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
That's the great unknown for a Caps team that has all the tools to go the distance. Until Theodore can take them past a quality team beyond the first round those questions will remain. It'll be a great story if it happens but I remain skeptical.
Michael (Great Neck, New York)
Do you think that Henrik Lundqvist will be a Vezina Finalist again? His number are down but he is the reason the Rangers are where they are right now
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Interesting dilemma for the GMs. Agree the Rangers are cooked without Lundqvist but think this is the year he fails to get on the ballot with guys like Steve Mason and even Pekka Rinne in Nashville having surprising years.
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Well folks many thanks for taking the time. And Ryan in Newport Beach, sorry dude, didn't see the Nabokov kicking incident. Until next week.
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