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 2 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (2:00 PM)
Greetings all. Seems like a long time ago we were in Bristol chasing down trade deadline deals. Now it's time for the playoff races to begin in earnest. Now, where were we?
Bryz has looked much more himself of late. Assuming they get Mez, Kimmo, and JVR back for playoffs, how far a run do you think the Flyers can make with this team?
Scott Burnside (2:02 PM)
Andrew; Agreed that Bryzgalov looks a lot more comfortable in his skin in recent days but what's he going to be like come playoff time? If healthy - even without Pronger - I really like the Flyers' blue line and depth up front. But if they play a team like Pittsburgh in the first round which is how I imagine it playing out I don't see them winning that series. Might be best to finish in the 6 hole and play the Southeast winner.
Hello Scott - first off, thanks to you and Pierre for giving Phoenix some love. Year in year out, that team does more with less. Second - do you think the window is closing on this version of the San Jose Sharks? I was thinking they should have made a bigger splash at the deadline, because this doesn't look like a team on the rise to me. I thought they should have gone all in.
Scott Burnside (2:04 PM)
Andrew; The 'Yotes get what they deserve; hard-working, well-coached in spite of all the external distractions. As for the Sharks you know Doug Wilson went hard after Rick Nash but couldn't pull it off. Then he went to Plan B which was to get a little bigger in the bottom part of their forward contingent. Still something missing, though, and it's hard to imagine ownership will just sit idly by if they miss the playoffs or get waxed in the first round either of which look like very really possibilities right now.
I don't know which is worse: 5-0 to New Jersey or 1-0 to Philly! Complete mystery to the common fan, this Washington team. Memo to George McPhee; The Blue Jackets are playing better hockey right now.
Scott Burnside (2:08 PM)
Michael; Very weird indeed. When the Caps won three in a row last week and it looked like Michal Neuvirth was getting into a groove I think the sense was, well, here they come, finally. But to go dry like that is perplexing. And with Tampa, Buffalo and even Toronto on their heels they aren't going to be able to back into the playoffs or the Southeast Division title. If there is a time for Alexander Ovechkin to show whether he is true captain material the next three or four weeks are it.
Ken (Elkhorn, NE)
Have the Wings fallen on bad fortune or what? The injury bug has struck hard the past couple of weeks.
Scott Burnside (2:10 PM)
Ken; I think it's just one of those things that is the byproduct of a streak like the home win streak. So much attention focused on it, so much energy expended on it and then when it's over there's a kind of backlash. This team is too good - once it gets healthy - not to be ready to roll come mid-April. Interesting, though, that St. Louis continue to put pressure on the Wings for the Central crown and that's a big prize given how tough it's going to be to get out of the West.
Now that the NYR have opened a 12 point lead...Is it fair to assume that Hank will play less than 13 or 14 of the last 19 games?
Scott Burnside (2:11 PM)
Kev; Great point and you have to imagine that John Tortorella will be resting up his most valuable player while still making sure he's sharp. But I think you're number is about right maybe 11 or 12 of 19. With the Bruins falling off it's a nice luxury the Rangers have pretty much wrapping up the top seed with five weeks to go in the regular season.
Kid A Plus (Chi)
Detroit, Rangers, Nucks -- no problem. Edm, Cal - no chance. What is the deal with the hawks inconsistency?
Scott Burnside (2:14 PM)
Kid A Plus; The Blackhawks continue to be a curious team. Terrific win yesterday versus the Red Wings. Yet you're right they seem to hit the wrong notes at the most improbable times. But I like how they've played for the most part in the past two weeks. Obviously they need Jonathan Toews back but they've been a lot better defensively and their goaltending has been more consistent. They are a team, not unlike whoever finishes 6th in the east, that may benefit from sliding out of the 4/5 spot and into the 6th hole. That's assuming they don't fall any further.
Rangers are overrated. They cannot score at a high enough level to win it all. Agreed?
Scott Burnside (2:17 PM)
JB; Don't agree at all that the Rangers are over-valued. Very good team, well-coached and very hard to play against. Sounds like a playoff ready team, no? But I will say that I do wonder about their ability to generate enough offense against a team like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh or Boston over the course of a seven-game series. Although watching that game against Boston on Sunday it didn't seem to be a problem just as it hasn't been a problem any time they've played the Bruins or Flyers this season.
Scotty, is a comparison between last year's Bruins and this year's Rangers fair? Strong goaltending, flighty scoring, overall toughness, and a non existant power play are the pillars of both teams.
Scott Burnside (2:19 PM)
Brendan; I think that's fair. What struck me during the Bruins' run of last year was that they got key contributions from distinct parts of their line-up at exactly the right time. Brad Marchand wasn't great all the time but he was lights-out in the final. The Rangers are a bit like that - assuming they can continue to get those kinds of contributions once the playoffs start.
Have you heard how serious the concussion to Letang is? Can the Pen's expect to have him back at the start of the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (2:21 PM)
Devin; No update as far as I have heard on where Letang's at. The Penguins have shown to be a pretty formidable opponent even without Sidney Crosby. Without him they still have a shot to win the Cup. Without Crosby and Letang, hard to imagine winning four rounds. Too bad as it was a pretty good hit this time around as opposed to what I thought was a cheap shot by Pacioretty on the first concussion.
How long do you expect Parise out? The Devs seem to be struggling at the wrong time and I doubt they score enough without Parise...
Scott Burnside (2:23 PM)
Kev; Reports out of New Jersey this morning say x-rays were negative and he should play tomorrow versus the Rangers. And you're right, the offense has gone down the rabbit hole for the Devils. Interesting 'fight' to see which of Devils, Flyers, Pens finish in 6th. Even with Ottawa in the mix I still imagine two of those teams will face off in the first round. Tough way to start.
Of the four teams vying for the 8th spot in the east (WPG, TB, WAS, BUF), who do you think matches up best in a first-round series against the Rangers
Scott Burnside (2:26 PM)
Alex; Honestly I don't like any of those four teams to upend the Rangers in a seven-game set. That said Winnipeg is a hard place to play and they would be pretty loose compared to the high expectations that will greet the Rangers come mid-April. Tampa has guys with lots of experience and what about the Caps if they sneak in and have nothing to lose? Still, goaltending and defense suggests the Rangers should win against all of those teams in about five games.
Adam (Tulsa, OK)
Who wins the Western Central, Blues or Wings? Tough draw agaisn the probable Preds for the runner up.
Scott Burnside (2:28 PM)
Adam; I will give the nod to the Red Wings given that St. Louis has a monster seven-game road trip in the middle of the month. Wings and Blues play on April 4 which could be the deciding factor. And you're right, hard row to hoe for the two teams in the 4/5 hole which if I am right would be St. Louis/Nashville. That would be a great series.
If Crosby and Letang are healthy for the play-offs do you see them being favorites for the cup?
Scott Burnside (2:31 PM)
brian; I do. Lots of 'ifs' there, though. Just as you imagine the Flyers being healthy (sans Pronger of course) or the Blackhawks or any team that is currently missing a key part and wonder how they might fare come playoff time. That said if Crosby can come back - and the sense is that he will give it another shot at some point this season - and if Letang returns then they have to be considered a favorite given skill level, defensive depth and goaltending.
When did the NHL decide that power plays and scoring are bad for the game? There's just as much obstruction and interference now as there was pre-lockout. The NHL can't keep letting this happend, then decide 4 yrs later that they need more offense again.
Scott Burnside (2:33 PM)
Zach; I'll be headed to the GMs' meetings in Florida next week and it'll be interesting to hear what they think of the standards of officiating and the decline in offense. I'm not a guy that necessarily equates goals to a quality product but it's definitely going to get some discussion time in Fla. I'm not sure I agree that the obstruction is back to pre-lockout levels but I think it's fair to question where the standards are now and have they slid back.
Jim (St. Louis)
Andy McDonald - do you think he stays healthy? So much talent, but you're always nervous when he takes a hit.
Scott Burnside (2:35 PM)
Jim; Agreed that he is a skilled guy and an important part of that locker room. I'm a big fan. Good guy but like anyone whose trying to recover from multiple concussions you always wonder 'what's next?' It's taken Alex Steen a long time to get back from his own concussion issues and I think they need McDonald to stay healthy to give the Blues a shot at any kind of run this spring.
Who comes out of each conference?
Scott Burnside (2:36 PM)
Rick; Given current injury situations ie. not projecting Crosby in, Letang in, etc. I would say at this moment Vancouver/New York Rangers. A week from now I might feel differently but right now I think that's how it would shake down.
Matt (Orlando, FL)
3 pt regualtion wins.....is it coming?
Scott Burnside (2:36 PM)
Matt; You've been reading my colleague Pierre LeBrun too long. No. In fact I think it has little chance of becoming a reality.
Scotty, does this postseason determine whether or not the Bruins stick with Thomas past this season or turn to Tuukka?
Scott Burnside (2:41 PM)
Brendan; Interesting times ahead for the Bruins who have Thomas at one more year at $5 million while Rask will be a UFA this summer. Certainly an early exit from the playoffs this spring would mean some soul-searching for management vis a vis next year. Would you try and trade Thomas whose no-move clause expires July 1 (if I understand his contract correctly) and give Rask the job? Or make it an open competiton next season and try and trade Thomas mid-season if things don't work out? Nice to have too much goaltending as opposed to not enough.
Can you see the Kings finishing 3rd in the west? I feel like Jeff Carter is the missing piece that the Kings needed to get passed the first round of playoffs.
Scott Burnside (2:42 PM)
zubin; Kings are just three points out of first in the Pacific so sure it's a possibility. Like so many of those teams at the bottom of the playoff bracket, though, it's about consistency. The Kings haven't had much but maybe Carter becomes the catalyst to that. The division title is there for the taking although I must admit I'll need to see a few more games like Saturday's big win over Anaheim before I'm sold.
Scott - Do players, management, media (like yourself) still cheer for there childhood team growing up? Or once you enter into "the business" do those ties fade away.
Scott Burnside (2:44 PM)
Devin; I don't know anyone who carries those childhood ties with them into 'the business'. I root now for good stories, guys who are accessible, drama, heartbreak, feats of courage, regardless of what sweater anyone is wearing of representing.
What are the chances the Atlantic division could have full representation in the playoffs? Could the Islanders make a serious late season push to get in?
Scott Burnside (2:46 PM)
Paul; Don't see that happening. Too many games within the division for the Isles to make up enough ground. They play three in a row against the Devils this week (counting yesterday). Plus there is the fact I just don't think the Isles have the goods to put together the kind of run that would be required to make the hop over five teams.
Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis)
Am I the best d-man in the league 23 and under?
Scott Burnside (2:47 PM)
Alex; Ever hear of Erik Karlsson?
Keith ( NYC)
Regarding the NYR, can any parallels be drawn to the Devil's teams that won the cup? Great goaltending, defense, average scoring?
Scott Burnside (2:49 PM)
Keith; I think the difference is that the Devils had dominant figures on the blue line in Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer. Rangers don't have that kind of player there. But certainly those teams' work ethic and all-world goaltending are similar.
Dave (Kansas City)
Why don't the Blues get the kind of respect the Rangers do? They are very similar teams but they play in a much better conference and division and they boast not only one but two great goaltenders.
Scott Burnside (2:51 PM)
Dave; I am holding New York City in one hand. I am holding St. Louis in the other. Okay, I think I understand why there is less buzz around the Blues. I'm with you, though, that the Blues are one of the great stories of this NHL season. And if they win the Central and end up with the Presidents' Trophy; all possibilities; we're going to praise them to the skies. But they'll never get the kind of love the Rangers are getting now until they prove it in the post-season. Kind of like the Rangers themselves.
Rob (College Park)
I know the Bruins haven't been playing their best hockey lately, but they have to still be considered at least one of the favorites in the East. Not only were they a few bounces away from beating the Rangers yesterday but they still lead the league in goal differential and they should be getting Horton Peverley and Ference back at some point
Scott Burnside (2:55 PM)
Rob; Agreed that the Bruins are still in the mix when you think Cup contenders. But they are banged up and need to get Horton and Peverley back. Ference is an important part of that blue line group as well. They're just out of sync now. Good thing for them is that it's hard to imagine them falling out of the Northeast lead in spite of the Sens' strong play of late. That means a number two seed and in theory an easier touch to start the playoffs. (I know, no such thing as an easy touch, but in theory.)
Is it possible that Dale Hunter is just not an NHL coach. There is no consistency or identity with this Caps team and there seems to be a lot of line shuffling. I know the loss of Backstrom hurts, but other teams are dealing with injuries too.
Scott Burnside (2:56 PM)
Joe; I think it's entirely possible that is the case. And actually the sense is that barring a miracle run to a Cup this is just a stop-gap thing for both Hunter and the Caps. I'll be shocked if there isn't a new face behind the Washington bench next training camp.
With the Rangers now having the best record in the NHL, shouldn't Torts be the front runner for coach of the year-keep hearing about Hitchcock and Trotz
Scott Burnside (2:58 PM)
Jeff; I think John Tortorella will definitely be in the mix but often the Jack Adams is about teams that overachieve and given the turnaround in St. Louis my guess is that Hitchcock wins it with Tortorella and maybe Paul MacLean or Dave Tippett being the third finalist.
Scott Burnside (2:58 PM)
Okay folks, next week we'll be in Florida for the GMs. Until then, be well.