Chat with Barry Melrose
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose drops by to chat about the Stanley Cup finals.
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 Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Crawford has been solid all season and post season minus game 4...should we be worried?
Barry Melrose (1:02 PM)
No. He's been a great competitor, a battler. He's two wins away from the Cup. There are a lot of great goaltenders that would love to be in his place. He just has to get two wins. I don't think there is any worry about him.
Barry, so far, where does this Finals rank as far as excitement goes to other recent Finals? When was the last one that seemed this even?
Barry Melrose (1:03 PM)
It's been good. Up and down. Game 3 was a snorer. Game 4 was very good. If we get into the 7 game range, it will be good. Neither team has really looked great. One game, one team looks dominant, the next the other team. All in all, we'll see how much farther it goes.
Playing Toews and Kane together? Big move?
Barry Melrose (1:04 PM)
Don't forget Chicago basically went with 5 defensemen. With the extra day off, everybody will be fine. They're in the best shape they've been in all year.
what do you make of the fact that Crawford keeps letting those glove side goals?
Barry Melrose (1:05 PM)
It doesn't matter, as long as they win. As long as he stops them in the other spots. He's been winning, that's all that matters. You can't have your goaltender worrying about changing his game.
Barry, there was a lot of talk about the Hawks dumping Niklas Hjalmarsson after this season due to poor numbers, but he seems to have had a resurgence here in the post season. Do you see him sticking around for a bit longer now?
Barry Melrose (1:05 PM)
Yeah. He's been great. He's had a great playoffs. I can't believe they'd think about moving him. His cap number is good too.
Do you think Chicago has figured out Boston's defense and will be able to consistently apply pressure offensively?
Barry Melrose (1:06 PM)
I think that they had a good game in Game 4 and Boston made some mistakes. I don't think Chara will be on the ice for five goals again. Chicago made some adjustments and then Boston will make some adjustments. I don't see the mental and physical break downs we saw in Game 4.
Kevin (Boston MA)
Barry, the Bruins have displayed immense patience on the ice. Multiple levels of puck support, taking what the other team gives and counter punching effectively. That seemed to go out the window in game 4. Is it as simple as they went for the knockout and got burned?
Barry Melrose (1:07 PM)
You have to give the other team credit. They're a good hockey team. They changed their lines. They knew they had to win, so they were desperate. The short handed goal helped a lot. It was a case of Chicago coming out and playing great. You have to give the other team credit once in a while.
Barry Melrose (1:08 PM)
It played a role. I thought Sharp was the best player on the ice. The defense played a better game. All of the adjustments worked. Chicago was a desperate club and played their butts off. They got Boston back on their heels and made them play a game they didn't like.
Barry, will having the last line change play a big roll in game 5? And do you think coach Q will keep kane and Towes together again?
Barry Melrose (1:09 PM)
Yeah, I think he keeps them together, because it worked. The last change didn't play that big of a role in Game 1 and 2. We'll see what happens in Game 5.
Do you feel that Chicago will be able to use their powerplay more effectively now after finally getting a PP goal in game 4?
Barry Melrose (1:10 PM)
Yes. The one thing about the PP that looks good, even if you don't score, you scare the other team. Then you make the other team worry about taking penalties. But on the flip side Boston got two PP goals, so Chicago's PP has to be better.
Now that the monkey is off the back of both Toews and the Chicago power play, do you anticipate we will see more scoring from both?
Barry Melrose (1:11 PM)
Yes for Toews. He played great in Game 4. He was in front of the net. Bickell was better also. I think Toews will be better offensively.
How do you think Rask will perform after a shutout in Game 2 and six goals in Game 6? Do you think he can bounce back?
Barry Melrose (1:11 PM)
He'll bounce back. The defense of Boston will do a better job of clearing the front of the net. Rask will be better in Game 5. He'll kick himself in the butt.
Cam (Boston MA)
Who are your front runners for the Conn Smythe between the two teams?
Barry Melrose (1:12 PM)
It's a really weird Conn Smythe year. Boston, you've got Rask, Krecji. Chicago, Sharp, Crawford. Usually there's a clear cut guy, but there isn't one this year. We'll probably wait until the last moment and it will be a surprise.
As Chicago has home ice advantage for the rest of the series, who will need to step up for the Bs in order to take home the cup?
Barry Melrose (1:13 PM)
You have to shut down Kane and Toews. They have to get better defensively, not get into a speed game. Get back to the Bruins pace. Grind it out. Get the game to a Boston pace, not a Chicago pace.
Tom (NJ) [via mobile]
With all these coaching changes who made the biggest improvement?
Barry Melrose (1:14 PM)
I love what Julien did in putting the third line together. That line has been great. I love that Joel put Toews and Kane back together. Each game has adjustments and the best one is the one that gets his team the fourth win.
How long will this series go?
Barry Melrose (1:15 PM)
I think 7. I think 5 and 6 will be split. Then there will be a Game 7 back here in Chicago. Rightfully so, these teams are so even, that's what they deserve.
Is Lindy Ruff a good choice to coach the Stars?
Barry Melrose (1:15 PM)
Yeah, Lindy is a very solid coach, experienced coach. He's coached young guys. Good communicator. Good choice by Dallas.
I was quite surprised to see Leddy play only 4 shifts...for under 3 min in game 4. Will this wear down other D playing so many minutes...especially in all of the OT games so far?
Barry Melrose (1:16 PM)
As a coach, you have to make a decision if those minutes are warranted. It's a tough decision. They won, so it was a right decision. I don't think fatigue will be an issue. They have an extra day off today. They can easily play 5 D for a couple of games.
Did the Hawks regaining home ice swing the momentum of this series?
Barry Melrose (1:17 PM)
No. I think each game is different. I don't think momentum means much. If that was the case, they would have won Game 4. Chicago has to keep it going. Which team is ready to play. Which team scores the first goal. Those things all matter. Not momentum.
Mike (Boston, MA)
Barry, if you're the Bruins, do you think there's any value in losing a game like Game 4? Maybe so they don't think they can get away with playing Chicago's style and hope to win the Cup?
Barry Melrose (1:18 PM)
I think you realize your power play is good. That's something you can take away. But, no, that was a poor game by the Bruins. Giving up 6 goals is something they won't find acceptable. But what they will say is they gave up 6 goals and played terrible and still almost won.
Some Chicago fans are upset about the disallowed goal in game 2 saying the series should be 3-1...what are your thoughts?
Barry Melrose (1:19 PM)
That's sports. There are going to be plays like that. There will be situations that come up. All I know is we have the best referees by far. That's what happens when you have human refs. As a fan, coach, player, you have to live with the decisions on the ice. You can't look back and say you lost the series on a call that was or wasn't made.
I think a lot of the Hawkk's defensive zone woes are due to their inability to win faceoffs there. Does home ice advantage change that for them now?
Barry Melrose (1:20 PM)
No. They were better in Game 4. They still lost the battle, but they were at least competitive. Boston is the better face off team. They have to try to get any battle they can. If they can get it to 50-50, that's almost a win for the Hawks.
it seems that Chicago lets Boston into their zone before engaging on defense....why?
Barry Melrose (1:22 PM)
Boston is a defensive team. They pride themselves in low scoring game. The sooner they can engage the puck carrier, the better. They know they can get to the loose pucks and get turnovers. Boston doesn't want a high scoring game, Chicago loves the high scoring game.
Barry, need your honest opinion on this question . . . who do you trust to win more, Coach Julien and his defensive scheme, the B's Defense and Tuuka Rask OR Coach Quennville, his offensive scheme and Crawford?
Barry Melrose (1:23 PM)
I've said Boston from Day 1. I thought Boston will win in seven. I still think they will. Chicago exploited some weaknesses in Game 4. But if this series is still played at the pace of Game 4, that favors Chicago. You can say Rask has looked better than Crawford, but they each have 2 wins.
Torts out, Vigneault in. Do you foresee significant changes coming for the Rangers playing style? Will it be for the better?
Barry Melrose (1:24 PM)
They'll be more open. They'll be more creative on offense. That should help a guy like Richards and Nash and their offenisve players. Vigneault has coached a lot of talented players.
Barry, Do you think it's too late for Seguin to get his scoring touch back? And if not, how does he get himself going again?
Barry Melrose (1:24 PM)
You give him lots of chances. That line has been scoring for Boston. He's getting the chances. So just keep doing what you're doing. He's getting tons of shots, eventually they're going to go in.
Do you believe that Stalberg can be a bigger factor in game 5-7? With his size and speed and shooting ability, I think he would be great insert with Kane and Towes at times over Bickell.
Barry Melrose (1:25 PM)
I like Bickell with Kane and Toews. He attacks the net. He finishes his checks. I like Bickell with those guys, but I also think Stalberg can be a bigger factor. He could easily do some damage down the stretch.
Robert (San Antonio)
Why is this series being touted as the offensive juggernaut Blackhawks and the defensive juggernaut Bruins? Did people forget that the Blackhawks led the league in goals against? And Boston isn't all that shabby on offense either. Just seems like an even series to me
Barry Melrose (1:26 PM)
Yeah, Chicago is a much better defensive team than people are talking about and Boston is a much better offensive team. But if you look at the two teams, Boston would much rather play a slow down style. But there are contrasting differences in the style, and they're both excellent clubs.
Steve (St. Louis)
Hawks' pk was strong all regular season because they quickly challenged every skater with the puck. Now, Hawks are sitting back and letting blue liners drop bombs all day and the pk is tanking. What's with the Hawks' change in pk style at this crucial part of the season?
Barry Melrose (1:28 PM)
You have to give credit to the opposition. Boston sees what the Hawks are doing and make adjustments. In Game 4, Chicago's PP was better and they scored a short handed goal. Chicago has to make sure they don't let Boston have too many PP chances. It's a little cat and mouse game.
Barry Melrose (1:28 PM)
I hope everyone is enjoying this series as much as I am, but I am getting tired of the traveling!