Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (4:00 PM)
So, where were we?
How long do you think the Thrashers and Avalanche can keep it up?
Scott Burnside (4:02 PM)
Amanda; Oh to know the answer to that question and be in Vegas. It may sound trite but as long as the Avs' and Thrashers' respective goaltending holds up then they've got a good shot at maintaining at least a competitive level of play if not the lofty heights to which they've ascended early this season. Ondrej Pavelec and Johan Hedberg have been excellent for the Thrashers although I'd like to see a few more quality starts from Pavelec before I am totally sold. Craig Anderson has been the Lone Ranger for the Avs. He can't keep that pace up all year, obviously.
kyle (minnesota )
what happened to kyle mclaren (still in philly?)? are the big thumping defenseman really a thing of the past in this nhl?
Scott Burnside (4:05 PM)
Kyle; The last record I can find on either the NHL's or hockeydb.com sites suggests McLaren played 22 games for the Sharks' AHL affiliate in Worcester last season. By the looks of it he's out of the game this season.
will this be the year the wings actually finish below 3rd in the west?
Scott Burnside (4:07 PM)
Taylor; It's still pretty early to be counting the Red Wings out or at least out of the top three spots in the West. That said the 'Hawks aren't going away and neither, apparently are the Blues or the Blue Jackets which is going to make it tough on the Red Wings as they battle through injury and a kind rebuild on the run. Honestly, I don't think finishing third in the Central - but in the playoffs - is too much of a stretch for the Red Wings this season.
Mike (New York)
Scott, should be an entertaining game between the rangers and sharks tonight! Can you smell 8 in a row for the rangers?
Scott Burnside (4:08 PM)
Mike; Agreed, should be an interesting tilt. Watched the Sharks/Caps game Thursday as part of our new "Game of the Week" segment on ESPN.com and the Sharks were decidedly unimpressive. But they've got all the tools to give the Rangers a run and, frankly, they're due. Just as the Rangers are due for an off night.
The Blue Jackets PK has been phenominal and so far they are getting offense from everyone with a few from Nash. Can this team contend and maybe even get a 4 or 5 seed?
Scott Burnside (4:10 PM)
Mike; Very true. The Blue Jackets' PK has actually scored one more goal than it has allowed which is pretty phenomenal. I still question whether there is enough secondary scoring in that line-up to make the Blue Jackets a top club in the very tough Western Conference.
Larry (Rockford, IL)
Scott, when will the Huet experience be over? What options do the Hawks have?
Scott Burnside (4:12 PM)
Larry; Well, I'm not sure Huet has been as bad as fans think he has. Agreed he is not yet at the Terry Sawchuk stage but he's been for the most part okay. His problem seems to be that he saves his worst outings for the United Center. Not a good plan. But his contract makes him virtually impossible to trade. And with Antti Niemi having played in just three NHL games it's a little early to be turning the reins over to him. In short, I don't think the experiment is nearly over regardless of how 'Hawks' fans feel about Huet.
scott my coyotes are taring it up this year why no love for tippett or the yotes?
Scott Burnside (4:14 PM)
tizzle; Actually I think the Coyotes are getting lots of early love it just hasn't translated into actual fans in the actual building in Glendale. Dave Tippett and his crew have earned any and all positive feedback this early season. How long they can keep it up is another point altogether but it sure would be nice if someone in the desert noticed how well the home team is playing.
Marc (Malden, MA)
In sports, we often see the "hangover affect." where the end to one season is so devastating that it ruins the next one. I think that's what's happening to the Bruins.
Scott Burnside (4:17 PM)
Marc; That's an excellent point. We often talk of the hangover almost exclusively as it affects teams that either win a Cup or lose in the final. But the Bruins seem unable to get themselves back to the level that saw them so dominant during the regular season a year ago. Interesting to see whether the trade of Chuck Kobasew to Minnesota which will have a ripple effec throughtout the line-up will jump-start the Bruins.
Mike (New York)
Scott, when are the week 4 power rankings going to be up?
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
Any moment. You will find the Rangers in a virtual tie with Pittsburgh atop said rankings. I know this because I penned them myself.
Ovi 50 in 50?
Scott Burnside (4:19 PM)
Mike; (And no, I am not just answering questions from Mikes today contrary to what it might look like.)I think Ovechkin is the only player in the game with the tools to make a run at that kind of scoring mark and yes, I believe it is entirely possible. How much fun would that be?
So I guess Emery wasn't the answer to the Flyers mediocre goaltending. Do you still see them contending in the East?
Scott Burnside (4:20 PM)
Chris;I've watched Emery pretty closely and although the Flyers have lost three straight I'm not sure you can lay the losses at his feet. He's made some great saves but I understand how the term mediocre might creep into the conversation. The Flyers haven't played very well in front of Emery and have shown a strange propensity for letting down when they have the lead. I say give the Flyers another couple of weeks before we hit the annual goaltending panic button in Philly.
Mike (New Jersey)
Hey Scott, early rankings questions, who are the top three Vezina runners as of this point of the season?
Scott Burnside (4:22 PM)
Mike; At this moment don't know how you don't give the Vezina to Craig Anderson in Colorado. Ilya Bryzgalov and Ryan Miller would run a close second and third if I had to vote (which I don't as the Vezina is the domain of the GMs) at this moment in the season.
Scott, Duchene gets a lot of attention in Colorado but what about Orielly? a goal and six assists in 7 games and is a plus 5! do you think he will get sent down before he plays his 10th game?
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
chad; The Avs have apparently announced that Matt Duchene will be spending the entire season with the Avs as opposed to being sent back. But you're right, perhaps a more difficult decision with Ryan O'Reilly, an 18-year-old who has been an instant hit with the Avs. If the feeling is that Duchene can handle the work load can't imagine why the Avs wouldn't go ahead and keep O'Reilly, too even if it does set up potential cap issues down the road. If it ain't broke. Well you know.
Byfuglien -- Is he for real?
Scott Burnside (4:27 PM)
Mark; Dustin Byfuglien is an interesting story, no? Former defenseman gets moved up front because the 'Hawks really didn't know what else to do with him and now he's evolving into a top power forward. I think he is the real deal and I wouldn't be surprised to see him named to the U.S. Olympic team if he can keep up his current level of play/production.
Mikes are the best (Everywhere)
My name is Mike so my question must be answered. We have a superior name anyways. The Wings have to be regretting letting Conklin go no? And which teams have the best starter/backup goalie combo?
Scott Burnside (4:32 PM)
Mikes; Have no real feelings about the name but it's a good question. Not sure about regret on the part of the Wings. At some point they had to give Jimmy Howard a shot and this was it. As for best one-two punch there a few; St. Louis (hey, that's where Conklin ended up, go figure.), I know their records don't necessarily reflect it but I think Anaheim with Giguere and Hiller and Boston with Rask and Thomas will eventually get the job done. How about Alex Auld and Marty Turco in Dallas?
Even though it was more for salary cap flexibility than anything else, did the Bruins get a good return for Kobesew?
Scott Burnside (4:33 PM)
Paul; I think the fact Kobasew, like so many Bruins, was struggling out of the gate, made this move easier to make for GM Peter Chiarelli. He seems pretty pumped about some of the kids that will get a chance to fill Kobasew's spot as well as the spot vacated temporarily by Milan Lucic who has a finger injury.
Garrett (New York)
Where do you think the Islanders will be calling home 3 years from now? As a huge Ranger fan should I be happy to see them leave or will I miss the rivalry too much?
Scott Burnside (4:34 PM)
Garrett; Bet you missed the Isles if they ended up in Kansas City or Vaughn (north of Toronto). I am guessing they remain in the New York area - how about Queens?
Scott, are the thrashers for real? I think so. They seem like they are playing great fundamental hockey. Is John Anderson finally getting through to these guys?
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
Ben; Still early and this is a team that has been notoriously streaky over the years. But I do think John Anderson is in a comfort zone as a coach that he never got to a year ago. And in talking to GM Don Waddell he figures the team has the best top four defensemen (Pavel Kubina, Ron Hainsey, Toby Enstrom and Zach Bogosian) they've ever had which makes a big difference in being able to win 3-2 or 2-1 games. Ultimately the goaltending will decide if the Thrashers can be a surprise playoff team so let's revisit this in a month or six weeks and see where they're at.
Looks like its going to be a rough year for the Wild. How long will it take for them to adjust to Todd Richard's new style? What key piece of the puzzle do you think they are missing?
Scott Burnside (4:37 PM)
Tom; So much has gone wrong so early for the Wild vis a vis injuries to guys they were counting on to help offensively. That combined with trying to get used to a new coach after years of being beaten down, er, coached by Jacques Lemaire and there was bound to be some growing pains. Still, this is a team that doesn't have all that much in the way of offensive talent in the box to begin with.
Mike (only kidding its Steven) (SD)
What is the answer to the Sharks secondary scoring? Is the Clowe funk an early season fling, or something we can fear for the entire season?
Scott Burnside (4:43 PM)
Steven; That's pretty funny. The name thing not the Sharks' secondary scoring. Well, it's not just Ryane Clowe (zero goals) but Joe Pavelski as well (zero goals) and Manny Malhotra (zero goals) and some others who will need to pick up the slack. Sometimes adding a big name like Heatley throws a lot of little things out of whack. Not blaming Heatley but there is something about the Sharks' attack that isn't quite right given that they are almost always among the most balanced scoring units in the league. I am pretty sure that will all get evened out as time passes.
Elisabeth (Stamford, CT)
In regards to Kobasew question above, you didn't really answer...do you think the Bruins helped themselves with this deal?
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Elisabeth; Sorry. Let me try again. Yes. I think the new faces will be a welcome addition. And they didn't really give up much in terms of production and saved themselves valuable cap room which will come in handy when they try and re-sign Marc Savard et al.
Everyone is talking about OV but what about Kovalchuck who is on pace for more goals!
Scott Burnside (4:48 PM)
Nicki; That's true as Ovechkin has 9 in 8 and Kovalchuk has 7 in 5. Thank the NHL schedulers for that one. But to your point, Kovalchuk is one of the most interesting players in the NHL right now as he can become an unrestricted free agent next July and the Thrashers are desperate to keep him lock up for the long haul. They're also desperate to avoid a situation like the Marian Hossa conundrum of two years ago when Hossa wouldn't sign in Atlanta and they had to deal him at the trade deadline to Pittsburgh. If Kovalchuk decides he won't re-sign then watch for GM Don Waddell to try and move him sooner than later. I think he'll stay, though, and will give Ovechkin a run for the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals.
Shouldn't Mason and Garon be thrown into that starter/backup goalie top combo list as well?
Scott Burnside (4:49 PM)
Mikes; I was thinking more about teams where the goaltending duties are more equitably split. Valiquette has played well for the Rangers but gets only a handful of starts so I don't think that really counts as a true goaltending tandem.
Why have the Sharks started so slowly this season?
Scott Burnside (4:52 PM)
Sana; I think being reminded constantly of how badly they flopped - again - in the playoffs. Just a guess though.
Top 5 pure talented hands in the NHL today? Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Gaborik?
Scott Burnside (4:53 PM)
Tony; Not bad. What about Alexander Semin? Anze Kopitar?
What do you make of the slow start by some of the expected "break-out" players from St. Louis this year? (ie. David Perron, TJ Oshie, David Backes) Is it too early to start asking questions?
Scott Burnside (4:55 PM)
Derek; Good question. I recall talking to both Andy Murray and John Davidson in Stockholm and they both raised concerns that so much pressure was being placed on youngsters whose NHL success was pretty limited. It's always easier to play when no one expects you to do well but playing with the burden of expectation takes time and I think that may be what is at the root of the Blues' up and down start to the season.
Mike's are inferior to Steve's, but that has nothing to do with hockey. Does Frolov get traded after Murray's recent statement about him? And to where?
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Steve; Interesting situation developing with Frolov who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer and who has been reduced to basically a checking line assignment with the Kings and is now a healthy scratch after annoying head coach Terry Murray. Frolov is a nice bargaining chip for GM Dean Lombardi if he needs to add a piece to keep the Kings in the playoff hunt but he'll need to find a partner that thinks Frolov is the answer long-term. Minnesota could use offensive help as could Phoenix but I doubt if Lombardi will rush into anything.
The so-called "Big Line" in Anaheim has looked anything but. Perry has looked pretty good in his bid to make the Canadian Olympic team, but Ryan and Getzlaf have all looked flat. Is this a case of putting too much pressure on 3 guys that are under 24, or is Getzlaf still recovering from offseason surgery and we should give him a break, or is it something else?
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Alisa; I think you've hit the nail on the head vis a vis Getzlaf who is coming off off-season sports hernia surgery. As for Bobby Ryan, he is still very much a kid and what with the possibility of the U.S. Olympic team, facing more pressure this season. That said, there are lots on the Ducks who are suffering from the same up-and-down start to the season. I still like them to make the playoffs, though.
Scott, longtime appreciative reader, first-time writer. What do you think of John Stevens? Is he the man that's holding back the Flyers from getting over the hump? Do you see him gone by the end of the season?
Scott Burnside (5:02 PM)
Matt; I am a big John Stevens fan. He took a very disjointed Flyer team to a conference final two years ago although I know that will be easy for Flyer fans to forget if they don't get at least to another conference final this year. Stevens has more tools at his disposal than he's ever had so the pressure to win is pretty significant and I think another one and done playoff year will be hard on his job security.
Scott Burnside (5:03 PM)
Thanks folks. Let's do it again next week. Over and out.