Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 4 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (4:01 PM)
Hello all and welcome back to another puck discussion. Now, where were we?
Mark (San Jose)
Hi Scott. Feels like this year the NHL will have to engrave an asterisk next to the name of the team that wins the Stanley Cup, with all the key players going down. This is getting ridiculous. I agree with many that think its players should respect eachother, but obviously just saying that isnt working. The league glorifies crushing hit on it's website with "hits of the week" pieces which i highly doubt helps. What can be done? I love this sport, but what's the point of the trophy if the best players arent even able to compete for it?
Scott Burnside (4:08 PM)
Mark; I share your pain on this. I will be in Florida in the next few days for the GMs' meetings and I think we will get a sense of how the league will proceed. It's complicated because so much of what we're talking about, the injuries, etc. are tied up in the physicality of the game and that, in many ways, is what makes the game so compelling. But agreed there has to be a way to work through this and keep the game's most important assets safe enough to ply their trade.
Mike (Columbia, MD)
Carlson may or may not be on the outside looking in for ROY, but does anyone have a better crop of rookies than the Caps?
Scott Burnside (4:09 PM)
Mike; I'm sure Bruce Boudreau would be happy if he wasn't having to rotate three of them through his goal but you're right on. Great young players making impacts every night. I think you're also right on Carlson, probably doesn't have the profile that would be needed to snare the hardware but I think he'll trade that in for a run to the conference final or beyond.
Keith (Harrisburg, NC)
Do the Canes have enough firepower to get in the playlets?
Scott Burnside (4:11 PM)
Keith; I don't think so although the way the race is shaping up with no one really seizing the moment they may not need firepower just luck. Honestly, though, I think they rely too heavily on Eric Staal and Cam Ward and I'm not sure there's enough there to get in. I think Buffalo will sneak into 7th and so it becomes a battle with the Rangers, Leafs and Devils perhaps, maybe Atlanta. I still think the 'Canes may be a year away.
Scott (Pittsburgh, Pa)
Who gets your vote for coach of the year?
Scott Burnside (4:16 PM)
Scott; In reality the broadcasters vote for coach of the year so I won't technically vote but if I had a vote I would be stumped. For me if Phoenix makes it to the playoffs again - and it looks like they will - hard not to go with Dave Tippett again. But that's not how the voting usually goes. Marc Crawford will get a look, Guy Boucher and I think both Bruce Boudreau for the job he's done in Washington and Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh should both be considered. My guess? Boucher.
John K (NY NY)
What is the DEAL with the Rangers...they are more infuriating than my 6 year old son....hot and cold / hot and cold...are they a playoff team or not?????
Scott Burnside (4:17 PM)
John; Agreed. Frustrating team to try and get a handle on. They need more from Gaborik, I think, or one of those bubble teams is going to knock them off. You can just picture them tied for 8th this year and losing out because they have too many shootout wins under the new tiebreaking forumula. Cruel but it wouldn't surprise me.
Brian Flad (New York)
Scott isn't the shootout supposed to be "one continuous forward motion?" More and more it seems this isn't the case in the shootout. Just look at St Louis' SO goal last night.....
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
Brian; Yes. I was a bit surprised the St. Louis goal counted as there did appear to be a moment when the puck did stop moving before St. Louis deposited in the Chicago goal.
I really enjoy your work. I see the Kings having a hard time beating the hawks in the playoffs, is there another team you think they don't have a chance at winning against?
Scott Burnside (4:21 PM)
Mario; You are too kind (as many readers here will no doubt agree). As for the Kings they are a strange team, looking for a week or two like the kind of team that could knock off a San Jose or Detroit or even Vancouver and then flattening out. I still like their make-up at least on paper; veterans, skilled young players, good offensive depth, good goaltending. Can they raise the bar come playoff time? The way they are back and forth I don't see the Kings moving into 4/5 hole which would in theory mean a better first-round match-up even though they're just a couple of points removed from that part of the bracket. That means either Vancouver, San Jose or Detroit. Don't like their chances against any of those teams except perhaps San Jose.
Phil Shulman (Philadelphia pa)
Doesn't the Chara incident bring back memories from over 30 years ago when the prosecutor in Toronto started sticking his nose in games after the Broad Street Bullies were mauling the Leafs very game? Don't these folks in Montreal have better things to do, like go after real criminals
Scott Burnside (4:23 PM)
Phil; As ugly as the Chara hit was and as much debate as it has sparked, some rational some not, it still boggles the mind that civil servants in Quebec have nothing better to do than waste time and taxpayers' money looking into an incident that never, in a million years, will see the inside of a court room. A joke.
Rick Allen (San Diego, CA)
Jonas Hiller's situation is a troubling one in that it seems like they can't find the cause. Do you think the Ducks can keep winning with Ellis? Can they get in and do some damage in the playoffs this year?
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
Rick; If the Ducks can somehow find a way into the post-season without Jonas Hiller given how good he was through the first 2/3 of the season it will be a terrific story. Good story for Ellis, too, as he was cast off by Tampa and looked like he'd lost his mojo. That said, I will still be surprised if the Ducks are able to string enough wins together over their final 15 games to sneak into the top eight.
Joseph (Savannah, GA)
Hey, Scott. Should anybody fear the Buffalo Sabres? They look like they could make the playoffs, who do you think they could match up well against?
Scott Burnside (4:29 PM)
Joseph; Having watched the 8th place Habs dismantle both Washington and Pittsburgh last year I realize how flimsly pre-playoff predictions and pronouncements can be. That said, I still wonder about the Sabres leadership and their depth along the blue line. They are likely to be no better than a 7th seed so I really don't like their chances of knocking off either the one or two seed regardless of which of the teams finishes on top.
who will play in net for the flyers in the playoffs?every year i ask, and every year i get a different answer
Scott Burnside (4:31 PM)
jon; I'm not sure even the Philly guys have a real handle on it although it looks like Peter Laviolette is leaning towards Bobrovsky. The entire team has been in a bit of a swoon which lots of teams (see Vancouver of late, too) go through. Still a deep, talented team that has no reason not to go at least to a conference final. If it is Bobrovsky to start, though, my guess is he has a pretty short leash and it wouldn't shock me to see Brian Boucher and Bobrovsky at various points this spring.
I'm sure the Chara thing has been played to death (late to the conversation, I know). My question is this: last year on a hockey play, Ovechkin was suspended 2 games because of the seriousness of Brian Campbell's injuries. At the time, Colin Campbell said something to the effect of "Ovechkin has be held responsible for the severity of the injuries sustained" and that's why he was banned two games. Why not the same standard with Chara? I know you'll throw out the repeat offender thing, but it"s C. Campbell's own words that perplex me here.
Scott Burnside (4:34 PM)
Jon; It's a fair point. And I think one of the major issues confronting the league, how to balance the severity of injuries in these kinds of plays with the acts that lead to them. I said earlier today the Pavel Kubina elbow to Dave Bolland is a bigger problem for the NHL because it happens with more frequency and needs to be weeded out. At the risk of enraging more Hab fans (and Air Canada and the Montreal police) I think the Chara hit is a lightning strike, one in a million. But suspending players for longer periods of time for obviously dangerous plays to me is a crucial change the NHL has to make. I think GMs and players share that view.
James (Midland, MI)
Thanks for your work. I was at the DET-LA game last night. I'm not ready to panic or cry like the Miami Heat, but I'm wondering how such a great offense can have scored 1 goal in 3 of the last 4 games (I mean, they did next to nothing after the first period last night). I know that the Kings play good defense and have a great goalie, but the Wings did this a month or so ago, too. Is their offense over-rated?
Scott Burnside (4:37 PM)
James; Actually was talking to Ken Holland yesterday for a piece on the GMs' meetings and he was unhappy with his team's play but I think like Philly and Vancouver up until a week or so ago, this is more about a good team taking a few nights off. Sure it drive Holland and Mike Babcock crazy but they are a veteran bunch and I would be shocked if you didn't see them play with a lot more intensity in the final 10 games and would likewise be shocked if they didn't advance at least to the second round.
Jackson (Los Gatos, CA)
Scott, what are your thoughts on the production of the big 3 in SJ this year? Is this team still dependent on those guys to play good hockey or has the supporting cast proven they are good enough to win without them shooting out the lights? What needs to happen for the sharks to get to the cup this year?
Scott Burnside (4:39 PM)
Jackson; One of the things I'm anxious to see come playoff time is how or whether the Big Three step up. When they were on the rocks during the middle portion of the season guys like Logan Couture really stepped forward (he's my rookie of the year for just that reason) but I don't think the Sharks take the next step to a conference final or Cup final unless Thornton, Heatley and Marleau are driving the bus. I will believe it when I see it.
If a player highsticks an opponent and it does severe damage (eyes or teeth probably), would that warrant a suspension? I'm not sure why people want a suspension for Chara.
Scott Burnside (4:43 PM)
Joe; Absolutely a high stick to the head can result in suspension. Remember Marty McSorely's infamous high stick to Donald Brashear? It cost McSorely more than one full season (and essentially ended his NHL career). I think the issue with Chara is the tramautic result of the hit and that is why the many calls for supplemental discipline and the disappointment that the league ruled there would be no suspension or fine.
I say it's pretty easy Scott, however long the injured player is out for is how long the player who injured that player is out for. What say you?
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Eric; I actually raised this issue with Brian Burke, who had Colin Campbell's job, and he said you can't do it because there are too many variables. What if the injured party is a marginal player and the team keeps him out of the line-up to keep a better player (the suspended player in this case) off the ice? Lots of different dynamics at play that make it hard to go 'eye for an eye' although it hardly seems fair that guys like Mike Green are sidelined and the guy that hit him, Derek Stepan, receives no supplemental discipline. Goes to the earlier question of consistency.
Do you think the Flyers can beat Toronto tonight seeing as they couldn't this time last week?
Scott Burnside (4:46 PM)
Amanda; No Pronger tonight, apparently. Leafs will need to come up with at least a point, in my estimation, to keep the playoff fires going. Flyers need to beat Toronto to maintain some traction. Should be an interesting tilt. My guess, for fun, Leafs in a shootout.
James (Orange County)
Scott, do you think Lubomir Vish gets any norris consideration? I know his d-game is not of a shut down type, but niether was mike green last season, and he was nominated
Scott Burnside (4:48 PM)
James; My friend and colleague Pierre LeBrun is working on a Visnovsky blog as we speak (I think) and it goes to your point that he has been terrific especially in the last month pouring in the points. Huge boost especially with Hiller out and the pressure on the Ducks to score more. That said, hard to see him on the final Norris ballot what with Nicklas Lidstrom seemingly a lock, Kris Letang getting lots of buzz and Keith Yandle in Phoenix. It will be a shame, too, as his contributions will be huge if the Ducks do sneak into the post-season.
Which of the following will be #1 goalies next year:Bernier, Schneider, Neuvirth, Holtby, Enhroth, Markstrom
Scott Burnside (4:51 PM)
Ed; Tough one as a lot of questions will be answered come playoff time. I think Neuvirth is the guy, ultimately in Washington. Very technically sound and, in general, less injury prone than Varlamov. Bernier gets a shot if the Kings miss the playoffs or are one and done. Those would be my two guesses from the group you mentioned.
Ed (New York)
How do you feel about the play of the New York Islanders in the latter half of the season, do you think this is finally turning into a team that can get somewhere in the next few years? Also, any shot for Grabner as rookie of the year?
Scott Burnside (4:54 PM)
Ed; Islanders have been full value for all of the kudos they've received in last month or so. Montoya has been excellent. MacDonald and Hamonic on the blue line have turned into an excellent pair and up front this group has the potential to be three lines deep. As always, when a team is out of playoff contention it sometimes skews how to assess their play - can they do this through the first 30 games next year for example - but it's been impressive after a lot of negative news on the Island. As for Grabner, another impressive piece especially given that he was waived. But I don't think he can dislodge a Couture, Crawford or Skinner.
Dave (So Cal)
Interesting note, Visnovsky +9, Yandle (0) and Lidstrom -2. Letang is 10 with 10 fewer pts
Scott Burnside (4:55 PM)
Dave; Agreed the Norris is going to be an interesting one to sift through all of the data. I try not to weigh too heavily on plus/minus as it's a bit of a misleading stat. I prefer minutes played, how much time a player spends killing penalties, on the power play, does he play against opposing teams' top players. All of those guys do just that.
Scott, how has Johnson looked to you as an Av? please give Av's fans something to cheer about!
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
brian; I haven't seen enough to be able to make an assessment and joining a team midway through the season and then trying to play 20 plus minutes a night isn't the easiest adjustment to make. I will say this, I am a big Erik Johnson fan. Good kid. Built like a mountain. Great shot. My sense is he lost his way in St. Louis. Maybe it was missing the year with the knee or trying to be all things because he was a number one pick. I thought he had a terrific Olympic tournament and I think he has the potential to be a Rob Blake kind of guy for years in Denver.
Who wins if a caps habs rematch happens in the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Paul; I will fall back on my prediction from a year ago; Caps in five (actually I can't remember if that's what I predicted but I think it is).I don't think lightning strikes either the Habs or the Caps twice in a row.
Scott Burnside (5:01 PM)
Okay all, thanks for coming out. Make sure you take in our podcast and if you ahve questions you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's do this again soon.