Chat with Barry Melrose
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose will drop by to take your questions about the NHL season.
Melrose re-joined ESPN after coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first part of the 2008-09 season. He first started with ESPN after coaching the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals and was a commentator on ESPN and ABC since 1995. Melrose made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets in 1979. A defenseman, he played for the Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings before retiring after the 1986 season.
Send your questions now and join Barry Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:02 PM)
We've got Barry!
Barry Melrose (2:02 PM)
We've got Crosby coming back for contact drills. That's great news! Good way to start the day.
Are you surprised by the current start of the new Flyers?
Barry Melrose (2:05 PM)
I'm surprised how fast they've gelled. Adding that many new players and have them playing this well out of the gate is a surprise. Pronger played excellent last night. I am a little surprised that they are this good this quick.
Without Malkin and Crosby do you think the Pens have what it takes to hold off the Caps tonight in Pittsburgh?
Barry Melrose (2:06 PM)
Yeah, I think Pittsburgh is playing great. They're playing as a team. Getting good goaltending by Fleury. And Washington isn't playing very well. Even without them, I think Pittsburgh will win this game tonight.
As a coach, do you think Boudreau's decision to start Neuvirth over Vokoun in the Caps opener has rattled TVs confidence leading to his poor performance against the Lightning. Good or bad decision if so?
Barry Melrose (2:07 PM)
We'll find out who starts tonight. I would imagine that Vokoun would play tonight. If he struggles two games in a row, that's not a good sign. He was brought in to provide some veteran leadership.
Kristofer (Pittsburgh )
Soo excited about Crosby, being cleared for contact, and that Geno felt better at this mornings skate, i Think Crosby will be back in 1-2 weeks if he has no further symptoms... Go Pens!!!!
Barry Melrose (2:08 PM)
Probably, but again, you have to look at that he's been cleared for contact, but in practice, there isn't contact. No one wants to be the guy on the team that knocks him out. Once he gets out in a game and gets rattled by a check, that's when we'll find out. Everyone's waiting to see what's going to happen until then.
Jake (Pennsylvania )
what do you think about the sabers thus far. They are 2-0 but at times miller is getting pummeled. Also what do you think of there offseason and how far will they make it into the playoffs?
Barry Melrose (2:09 PM)
It's two wins. Two wins. You can say what you want. I think the guys they picked up all played well. I think Buffalo has a very good hockey team. The defense is excellent. They had about a week of practice right now. You'd hope to see some improvement defensively tonight.
Stag (Auburn, Ala.)
Barry, do you think the Bruins have a legitimate shot at repeating this season? Also, why can't they ever get any love from the ESPN experts?
Barry Melrose (2:10 PM)
They have a shot. They're an excellent team. It's hard to repeat, that's why it hardly ever happens in the NHL. It's hard to shake out the same way. To be healthy. To get timely goals. To hit its stride at the right time. I'll be surprised if they repeat, not because theyr'e not good, but because it's hard in the NHL.
Adam (Amherst, MA)
Let's assume Richards and Gaborik mesh well: what's the Rangers' peak this year? Are they ready to be serious contenders, or should I wait to get my hopes up?
Barry Melrose (2:11 PM)
I think they're definitely a playoff team. I think they could be 4 or 5. Goaltending is good. Team defense is good. If their power play does well this should be a team fighting for home ice.
Sergei (Madison, WI)
Barry, I listened to your podcast with Levy and Burnside and must say that I completely agree with Levy. All the East teams are going to enjoy their sell-outs when Wings come to town, and West should be happy Detroit leaves, 7 playoff spots become 8. If someone wants to whine about 'loosing their draw', let's throw Pens to the west. The Wings paid their due, let another eastern team earn their respect the hard way.
Barry Melrose (2:12 PM)
I think it would be good for Detroit to make the move. It would cut down on their travel. They're in the Eastern Time Zone. But I would be surprised if the Western teams allow them to do that. It would be hard for them to lose their draw. I'll be surprised if Detroit goes.
Do you think Malkins injury wasn't full disclosed and is more than the reported soreness?
Barry Melrose (2:13 PM)
No, because he played the first two games. If he was in rough shape, he wouldn't have been able to play those two games. He's walking around. It's probably just a small injury at the start of the season. A lot of guys get banged up at the start of the season.
Barry, who's your pick to win the Pacific this year? Such a tight division!
Barry Melrose (2:14 PM)
I think it will be tight. The Pacific is great. They're all good teams. They all have stars. It might be the best division talent wise as there is. There's great instate rivalries with the California teams.
Is this the year the Maple Leafs make the playoffs ? Is their defense (other than Schenn) good enough to get them very far assuming Optimus Reim keeps playing well?
Barry Melrose (2:15 PM)
It will be tough. Who's going to fall out of the playoffs? The Rangers got better. Philly got better. Buffalo got better. Montreal got better. I don't see any of those eight teams that made the playoffs falling. Boston's good again. I don't see them struggling and coming up short. Toronto is playing well right now, but it will be tough for them.
Judeman (Bakersfield, CA)
Have you seen Varlamov's superb play so far? What do you think about the Avalanche?
Barry Melrose (2:16 PM)
They've been great. They've played three games and he's been the first star in every game. Right now, it looks like a great move by the Avs. If he continues to play that way, what a deal.
C Murtagh (Philadelphia)
What do you think is the ceiling on Claude Giroux's potential? Do you think he has the competitiveness to be a 40 goal 100 point scorer? I think he has the tools but he needs to bring it every night.
Barry Melrose (2:16 PM)
The reason they were able to move Richards and Carter was Giroux and JVR played so well together in the playoffs. Both of these young players are off to great starts and their futures are very bright.
What are your thought on a Dallas Stars - Colorado Avalanche Western conference final ?!
Barry Melrose (2:18 PM)
I'd quit smoking whatever you've got. Stars are off to a great start. The Avs are off to a great start. Neither one of those teams, though, in the West match up with the Detroits, Vancouvers, Chicagos out West. You have to hope for improvement and making the playoffs, but I don't think they can beat those teams I mentioned.
Are Giroux and JVR future superstars in this league? Flyers don't make the deals in the offseason if they aren't, right?
Barry Melrose (2:18 PM)
Stars. We throw that superstar around a lot. I don't think it's good for the league when everyone is classified as a superstar. Crosby, Ovechkin are superstars. I see Giroux and JVR being solid players for the next few years. If you have a club full of them you have a good team. They're improving every game.
Hey - Penguins fan out here in South Dakota. With Malkin and Crosby out, who should I be watching on their team currently? Who do you think are some good and young players?
Barry Melrose (2:20 PM)
Their best player has been Letang. Their power play has been very good and he's one of their main reasons. It's the same guys picking up the slack. Letang, Cook, Kunitz, Staal, etc. Letang has been the big story for them early in the season.
do you think the canucks have enough left for detroit tonight?
Barry Melrose (2:21 PM)
It will be a good test. Vancouver isn't playing great. It's hard to play the second game after a tough loss. Detroit has 4-5 days off. It will be a tough game for Vancouver. I expect Detroit to win this game.
Do you think the Rangers need to acquire a top-6 forward? If so, anyone realistically out there? Parise?
Barry Melrose (2:22 PM)
No. I think they're a very good team. They're solid with a good group of forwards. Some of them aren't stars yet, but they're underrated. Richards will make a difference. They're always a team that stresses defenses over offense. They're right up against the cap, so it's not like they can go out and buy a player.
Jon (Upper Iowa)
Hi Barry, what's up with Luongo? Any chance we see Schneider between the pipes a little more often this season? Also, your thoughts on any teams willing to take a look at Nabokov in a trade with the Isles?
Barry Melrose (2:23 PM)
They have slow starts and have to play catch up. Roberto is not playing well. He's always been a slow starter, if you look at his history. He's said himself he's not happy with how he's playing. Also, he had a tough offseason with what happened in the playoffs. That might be affecting him. A lot of stuff is going through his mind, I guarantee it.
How do you think the NBA work stoppage might increase the NHL's fan base by convincing new viewers to give hockey a try?
Barry Melrose (2:24 PM)
I heard Gary Bettman do an interview the other day and he said he feels the NHL fans and hockey fans are a baseball fan. He doesn't feel there is a large cross section of people getting tickets to both sports. Maybe we can get some NBA fans who want to go to a live event and convert those fans. According to what Gary said, he doesn't feel there will be a huge influx of NBA fans tot he NHL.
who will win the northeast division?
Barry Melrose (2:25 PM)
If you look at all of the divisions in the NHL, that's what's so great is the parity. Very few bad teams. There is no weak sisters in the NHL. Carolina wins last night. Tampa is a good team now. I think every division is going to have a great race. I think we'll see 4-5 points separating 5 teams like we saw last year.
To settle a debate I've seen elsewhere; it is obvious that Geno and Sid steal the limelight in Pittsburgh, but what are your thoughts on Jordan stall and the expectations without the other two in the lineup? Could he be a first line elsewhere?
Barry Melrose (2:27 PM)
On another team he could be. But not on Pittsburgh. Jordan is a great hockey player. With Malkin and Crosby out he needs to step up. But he'll always be a third center with them on the team. They need him with those guys out, maybe score more and put more pressure on offensively than he usually does.
Will this be the 'Yotes last year in Phoenix?
Barry Melrose (2:28 PM)
It's going to be interesting. How much longer will the city fork out $25 million a year to keep the team in Phoenix. There's no city crying for a team right now. Winnipeg is taken. Quebec will be the next interesting city once they get a building built. I think that has a lot to do with the equation also.
Buzzmaster (2:29 PM)
Thanks for chatting Barry!