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 (3:58 PM)
Greetings all. Back in Montreal for Game 6 tonight. The local constables have cordoned off half of downtown. Should be an interesting night. So, where were we?
With the Sharks beating the Red Wings and finally getting past the second round (not to mention finally getting production from the top line), would you say they are now the team to beat in the West?
Scott Burnside (3:59 PM)
Daniel; I think getting to the conference final for the first time since 2004 is a huge step for a chronic underachiever. But both Vancouver and Chicago are teams with a lot of firepower so I'm not sure I'd say the Sharks are yet at the 'team to beat' stage. Still, it's been a good spring on a lot of fronts for the Sharks.
Hey Scott what are you hearing about Gill and if he doesn't play who will take his place?
Scott Burnside (4:01 PM)
Rob; Hal Gill skated in full gear after most of the Canadiens had left the ice this morning. He sounded like a guy who is optimistic about playing although Jacques Martin said he'd be a game-time decision. I am betting he's in. Jaroslav Spacek will also likely be in the line-up which means a fourth-line forward will likely come out, Darche, perhaps. I assume Martin will keep Marc-Andre Bergeron in for his power play skills and in case one of Gill or Spacek falter.
A recent fan posted on ESPN that the Orr flight is an overrated sports moment, due to the Blues being such an inferior opponent. Sure, it was the first cup in years, but it was inevitable, undermining the significance of Orr's goal. Your thoughts?
Scott Burnside (4:04 PM)
Glenn; I've always looked at those first couple of post-expansion years (three actually) where the six new teams played the Original Six and the Blues got swept in all three final series against Montreal, Montreal and Boston as kind of tainted. Not sure who thought that set-up would be a good idea. But as for how it relates to the Orr moment which will be honored with a statue unveiling tonight, I think the two are separate. Regardless of the competition on the ice it was a great moment on a grand stage by one of the greatest players of all time.
Am I the only one that thinks Philly can actually win game 5 tonight?
Scott Burnside (4:05 PM)
Amanda; No. I don't think there's any quit in that Flyer dressing room. Brian Boucher will have to be better than he's been but I see the Flyers winning this one and making the Bruins come back to the Wachovia Center.
rc boston [via mobile]
Can boston win the cup?
Scott Burnside (4:07 PM)
rc; I don't think so. But then I didn't think they'd beat Buffalo. Or Philadelphia. They are a team on a mission, I will give them that. And they've got a young goalie who apparently has no nerves. And a bunch of guys like Mark Recchi and Miroslav Satan playing out of their minds. They may not win it but what a great spring for Claude Julien's squad.
Alex Y (CSpir)
Do you see the Avalanche making any substantial off season acquisitions?
Scott Burnside (4:09 PM)
Alex; I haven't really looked at their cap situation and they do have a few players like Adam Foote and Ruslan Salei on the back end who could become unrestricted free agents this summer. There's also the issue of J.M. Liles who was in and out of the line-up for the Avs and could be dealt so if they're looking anywhere to make a splash it might be along the blue line. Still, very young and I'm sure they'll be very cautious about making sure this young team grows up together as opposed to dropping in two or three high-priced free agents.
The Pens seemed to have been willing to scrap the excessive shooting on Halak to instead screen him much more effectively and try to get the puck in from the cycle or out farther from the crease. Is this the same type of adjustment Washington should have made after continually peppering Halak with no success?
Scott Burnside (4:11 PM)
Jason; In hindsight I'm sure Bruce Boudreau et al wish they'd tried something different but they seemed incapable of getting out of their habit of blasting away. In Game 1 of this series, for instance, the Penguins gave up shots and patiently waited for lanes to open up. It's not easy and the Habs have been great about not giving those lanes. As for working the puck low and trying to get Halak going side to side or jamming the front of the net, I think that's the key to success for the Pens, something the Caps didn't do much of especially later in that series.
What do you make of Luongo's playoff performance. Bump in the road or sign of things to come?
Scott Burnside (4:13 PM)
Mike; It's sure been an up and down spring for the gold medal goalie. Yanked against the Kings, lit up at home by the 'Hawks but delivers a first-rate performance in Game 5. But there's the problem. Look at Tuukka Rask, Jaroslav Halak, Evgeni Nabokov (for the most part) and you don't see those wild swings. I still predict we're going to see some more boo hoos from Luongo before this series with the 'Hawks is over.
Scott, what's the latest with the Coyotes ownership situation?
Scott Burnside (4:14 PM)
Tim; Council will vote Tuesday on whether to agree to a series of demands made by the NHL including agreeing to cover any operationg losses next season if an ownership deal (presumably with the Ice Edge group) goes awry. My guess is it will never pass and the league will exercise its right to move the team and they will play in Winnipeg next year.
Lyndon Byers (Boston, MA)
I can't believe that the NHL continues to put two games on at the same time. If you don't live in Boston or Philly, you can't watch their game. The Habs/Pens game is on most Versus channels and while Crosby is the stud, can't the NHL do a better job at staggering the games and times. No wonder Bettman and the NHL can't grow their sport; you put 2nd round playoff games on at the same time so fans can only watch one. Ridiculous.
Scott Burnside (4:16 PM)
Lyndon; Loved you as a player. And you're right. Got to be a better way for fans to watch games, all games.
Are there any athletes tougher than hockey players? I dont think most other athletes come back from some of the injuries we have seen guys return from this postseason.
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
Bob; Agreed. It's the same every year but you look at Jordan Staal and now Hal Gill looking like he's ready to play. Simon Gagne comes back and scores an OT winner. Marc Savard shaking off the Matt Cooke hit to lead the Bruins. Without getting too warm and fuzzy it really is inspiring and I think tells the story of how much this means to players. Remember, they stopped getting paid the moment the regular season ended. Very cool.
Is Caputi for Ponikarovski the worst trade of the Shero era and does Poni get back in the lineup during the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (4:20 PM)
Mark; We were talking about this yesterday but I liked that trade at the time. Figured Ponikarovsky would be a nice fit with either Malkin or Crosby. Big body. Not bad hands. But he's been terrible and kudos to Dan Bylsma for having the courage to yank him and Ruslan Fedotenko from the line-up. Mark Letestu has been a pleasant surprise. But never say never. Remember when Miroslav Satan of all people jumped into the line-up for the Pens last playoff and delivered a couple of decent performances (to say nothing of his stellar turn this spring in Boston) so you never know when a guy will get a chance to redeem himself.
Hey Scott, do you think that with Bobby Luo's lackluster playoff performances and the Canuck's lack of discipline that the we will see a Hawks/Sharks matchup in the Western Finals, and, ultimately, Vigneault will strip the captaincy away from #1 and give it to someone else? Worked for Marleau and the Sharks...
Scott Burnside (4:22 PM)
Josh; I do think it will be a San Jose/Chicago Western Conference final. Should be a dandy. As for Luongo and the captaincy has there been a more ill-advised stunt in recent years? As if making him captain is supposed to make Vancouver more attractive to him. And truly, if your goalie is the best 'leader' on your team then I think you've got problems.
How good can Claude Giroux be in a few years?
Scott Burnside (4:24 PM)
Jean; The youngster from Hearst, Ontario (hometown of the famous hockey writer Pierre LeBrun) has had a solid spring and really stepped up with all the Flyers' injuries. He has nine points in nine games and three power play goals. Rumors were that GMs were looking to pry Giroux out of Philly in exchange for a goalie. GM Paul Holmgren looks pretty good now for not having made such a move.
whats wrong with malkin
Scott Burnside (4:24 PM)
chris; Did you watch Game 5? The man was a horse.
Dan (San Diego)
Are the Kings going to sign Kovalchuk this off season?
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
Dan; I think the Kings are going to take a good run at him. I think it's a nice fit. They won't be able to pay him anywhere near the money he left on the table in Atlanta but, hey, it's L.A.
So Scott, who wins tonight and what are the scores?
Scott Burnside (4:26 PM)
Patrick; I am always so good at this.Pittsburgh 4 Montreal 2 (empty netter)Philadelphia 3 Boston 2 OT (Briere with the winner.)
Scott, what explains Crosby's abysmal performance against Habs? Habs were only able to slow down Ovi, but they flat out shut down Crosby and they are missing Markov for most of the series.
Scott Burnside (4:28 PM)
M; It's a mystery. Really. As you point out this is a Hab blue line missing Paul Mara for the whole playoffs, Spacek for most, Markov for all but a period and a half and still they have been able to frustrate Crosby and to a lesser degree Malkin. I am not a huge Jacques Martin fan but what a great job in getting his guys to buy in. They have blocked shots, they have committed to backchecking. You rarely see Crosby with any space around him. And I think he's probably now pressing which is a testament to the Habs' team play. Great playoff for a team no one gave a chance to.
Hey Scott, how impressive is it for the Penguins to making this kind of run for the 3rd straight year? I don't think a lot people realize that in the last 3 seasons they have played more than 300 games (not including the Olympics). With how physical the game has become, especially in the playoffs, I just think it's a remarkable feat.
Scott Burnside (4:31 PM)
Brody; Some readers suggest I have a soft spot for the Pens but your point is right on. You think of what it took for Detroit and Pittsburgh to get to the finals two years in a row and now with Detroit bowing out if the Pens get to a third straight conference final it is really remarkable. Good luck, sure. But lots of good coaching and guys who stick with it. You see teams knuckle under even though they're more talented (Washington, Buffalo, New Jersey) and you get a sense of the mental will to win that goes into the playoffs.
Nic (Ann Arbor, MI)
What do you think Kenny Holland will do with his 13 mil this summer? And do you think Captain Nick will be back, and for what price?
Scott Burnside (4:34 PM)
Nic; My gut is he'll give it one more go. He played at a high level in the last part of the season and in the playoffs. And with lots of cap room you know Ken Holland will move to make sure his own house is in order before he starts to fill in the gap with outside free agents. They're still an elite team and the one thing about Detroit is they rarely have trouble attracting quality players who are willing to play for less.
So the coyotes came out of nowhere it seemed, and gave a really good run at the red wings. Do you think that is just because Gretzky left? Or do you think they would have done so well this year whether Gretzky was still there or not?
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
Spencer; I'm not sure you can necessarily draw a line between this year's success and Gretzky's departure. Different team. Most of the young guys Gretzky had in his line-up were in the AHL or Russia this year. You can draw a line between the hiring of Dave Tippett and the team's success, though. He's a lock to win the Jack Adams as coach of the year and he should. He was terrific.
Bill (Pasadena, CA)
Hey Scott, Care to give us your thoughts on who wins the Norris this year?
Scott Burnside (4:38 PM)
Bill; I had them in this order; Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Mike Green. And remember we vote before the playoffs start (those who wonder at the Green pick). I liked Keith's leadership, his poise and he put up terrific offensive numbers. Doughty's going to be a great one but I thought Keith deserved it leading a team that was one of the top defensive/offensive clubs in the NHL.
Benjamin Nadler (New York)
In your opinion, who has been the most entertaining team to watch through the playoffs so far?
Scott Burnside (4:40 PM)
Benjamin; Honestly there hasn't been a series that I've watched either in person or on the tube that hasn't been compelling. The top three seeds in the east fall in the first round. Phoenix takes Detroit to Game 7. The Avs give the Sharks all they can handle. As for pure excitement maybe watching the Canadiens slowly whittle down the Caps might have been the most dramatic.
Kevin (San Jose)
Who's the better match up for the Sharks in Round 3? Hawks or 'Nucks?
Scott Burnside (4:46 PM)
Kevin; No easy path either way. Depending on whether Niemi or Nabokov stays hot or gets cold I'm not sure one is preferable to the other. Definitely the 'Hawks have the better defense and I think will be all-around a more difficult proposition for the Sharks.
jeff (marblehead, ma)
can boston beat pittsburgh in a series?
Scott Burnside (4:48 PM)
jeff; Yes. If Tuukka Rask stays hot and the Bruins keep up their great special teams (especially the PK) yes I think they could. Like Montreal, it will be an uphill battle because of the talent disparity.
Ryan Anderson (Duluth, MN)
Who's performance you got so far this playoff, the Big Pavelski's or Jumbo Joe's?
Scott Burnside (4:51 PM)
Ryan; Great question and I think watching Pavelski really take on a leadership role when the Sharks were struggling in the first round was the most impressive. Now that they're back to a conference final it will be a real test for Thornton to take his team over the hump.
Noel (Columbia, SC)
So with the current series where they are and what you know now do you have a revised Stanley Cup pick?
Scott Burnside (4:53 PM)
Noel; No. I remain stubbornly steadfast in my pick of Pittsburgh over Chicago in the final. Frankly I feel relieved both my pre-playoff picks are still playing.
Scott, do you think the Red Wings need to overhaul anything to be a Cup team?
Scott Burnside (4:54 PM)
Rod; No. Assuming Jiri Hudler returns there is a nice core of talent there. It will be interesting to see how Jimmy Howard reacts to being the incumbent number-one guy in Detroit but he showed he's got the tools I think.
Tim K (Tampa, Fl)
Any words on possible Bolts head guys yet?? Any chance TB is in the playoffs next year??? They have a decent core......
Scott Burnside (4:56 PM)
Tim; No word yet. Lots of rumors. Steve Yzerman is apparently on the radar and he should be. Agreed that there are lots of positive things in Tampa. Whoever comes in has to lock down Martin St. Louis long-term and move on from there. He is the heart and soul of that team and has one year left on his deal.
Danny (Fair Lawn, NJ)
Mr. Burnside, how much longer should Devil fans have unquestioned faith in the almighty Lou? It's been 7 years since a Cup appearance, and 3 straight first round exits may signal that major changes are needed throughout. Your thoughts?
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Danny; Those are more than fair questions. The fact the team has not addressed the Martin Brodeur fatigue factor year in and year out and the fact free agents keep fleeing the franchise I think is a warning sign. The key this summer will be Paul Martin. A loyal Devil and the team's best defenseman. He can become a UFA and if he bolts I think that will tell you that there are serious problems in Lou's Land.
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Okay folks, thanks as always for the time. See you next week from wherever; Boston, Pittsburgh, Philly or maybe back here in Montreal.