Chat with Barry Melrose
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, 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 Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
The Caps are off to a rough start and as a team are really struggling on D. What has to change for them to become the playoff team that everyone thought they would be in the pre-season?
Barry Melrose (3:01 PM)
I think they have to get committed to defense again. When they started playing good last year, they were doing that. They got away from that. It's tough when you have to score 4-5 goals a night. The goaltending will get better when the defense is better. Right now the defense is way too shaky.
Igor (Brooklyn, NY)
Hi Barry, I would rather deal with injuries at the beginning of the season then at the end. With that being said, where do you think the Rangers end up by middle of the season? So far this looks like the worst division, bu it can change pretty quickly.
Barry Melrose (3:02 PM)
I think they're a playoff team. I don't think they're as good as Pittsburgh or Boston or Detroit. Lundqvist won't be this bad all year. They will settle down and play a style that's better suited for their team. I think they'll be 5-8 in the East.
Steven Rosenberg (Vero Beach, FL)
Is Jacob Markstrom really the panthers goalie of the future?
Barry Melrose (3:03 PM)
Definitely. That's been the plan all along. He would have been playing this year if they didn't get Timmy Thomas. But the way Timmy seems to get hurt, Markstrom could play more this year. They think highly of him in Florida.
Hi Barry, do you think Boston will have a letdown tonight with San Jose coming to town tomorrow ?
Barry Melrose (3:04 PM)
No. I think the coaching staff will be aware of that. They'll let them know not to look ahead. You can't take anyone in the NHL for granted. Boston has to work to win. They have to grind out victories. Buffalo's not getting blown out. They're working very hard. They're not going to overlook Buffalo.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
With Ryan Miller struggling, is Jonathan Quick the #1 goalie for Team USA in Sochi?
Barry Melrose (3:05 PM)
I think Quick has been No. 1 for a while. Miller struggled last year or this year. I think he's dropped down in the order. I think Team USA would like to go younger anyway. Quick hasn't been great this year either, but I think Team USA would like him to be their goaltender.
Shane (Chillicothe, Ohio)
Barry, I'm a deployed soldier over here in Kuwait. Give me some good news about my Blue Jackets so far? 4-5 I'm a little dissapointed with the start.
Barry Melrose (3:06 PM)
They won last night, played pretty well. It's going to be a tough year for them. If they make the playoffs that's a good year. They'll be fighting for that 7-8 spot in that conference. They need good goaltending.
Are you surprised at how much success Mathieu Perrault is having so far?
Barry Melrose (3:07 PM)
Not really that surprising. The Ducks feel very good about him. The guy plays hard. He fits into that style. He can skate and move the puck, that's what the Ducks do better than anyone in the NHL. The Ducks have a good scouting staff. They have some good young players.
Barry, what's up with the Blackhawks surrendering so many late-period goals?
Barry Melrose (3:08 PM)
It's certainly something Coach Q won't be happy about. They blew a 2-0 lead. You should never blow a 2-0 lead. It gives the team a false sense of security. Chicago let off the gas a little bit and you can't do that. They took some time off and it came back to haunt them. The good news is they got the two points. It's a lesson that they'll use down the road.
Hi Barry, would like your opinion on an office debate we're having. Sergei Fedorov or Pavel Datsyuk (assuming both in their prime)?
Barry Melrose (3:09 PM)
Wow...that's a good one. I would say Sergei Fedorov. For a couple of years, I thought he was the best player in the NHL. He was that good. Datsyuk is unbelievable. I would love to have either one of them, but at the height of their prime, I'd take Fedorov.
Martin (Berlin (Germany))
Hallo Barry,How do you like the start of the Leafs ? Everybody is speaking about beeing outshot and having a lot of turnovers but they still win most games. And what do you think about JVR and Kessel on one line for the US in Sochi ?
Barry Melrose (3:10 PM)
They're going to get Clarkson back on Friday. That will make them better. The Leafs are good. Kessel got three last night. The defense is good. The goaltending is good. They're right in the middle of things. They're a very good hockey club. They're not pretenders, they're contenders.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
What are your thoughts in the western conference's domination over the eastern conference in interconference play this early into the season?
Barry Melrose (3:11 PM)
I think all of the western teams have copied Chicago. They're all great skaters and play the game fast. The league is like that now. The rules help teams like that. The western teams are dominating because of the style of play. Colorado can fly. The Ducks can fly. St. Louis is quick.
Mike P (Greater KC Metro)
The Red wings have not been as consistent as they have been in the past. Can they continue the pace they are on and continue to be the second best team in the atlantic div. while being inconsistent.
Barry Melrose (3:12 PM)
They're a veteran club. That will get straightened out. They are very solid. Datsyuk, Zetterberg are still there. In the playoffs, they'll be very tough. They're certainly one of the best in the East.
Gerry (San Francisco, CA)
Who is your early favorite for the Calder? Hertl, Monahan, or MacKinnon?
Barry Melrose (3:13 PM)
Wow...another great question. You know what? I am a defensemen. I love defensemen. It's harder to be a young defensemen in the NHL. I'm going with Seth Jones. He's playing awesome.
bob pittsburgh [via mobile]
Should the Pens be looking for an experienced back up goaltender?
Barry Melrose (3:14 PM)
I think they are. I think they've been looking. There aren't any out there right now, but down the road, will a Tim Thomas be available? They're saying all of the right things right now about Fleury, but they're definitely looking.
Rob (San Antonio)
From what you have seen what affect has Jacques Martin had on the Pens?
Barry Melrose (3:15 PM)
Jacques is a defensive coach. His teams have always stressed defense. He was brought in to give Pittsburgh a push in that direction. You're still an offensive team with some of the best players in the world, but you still win in the playoffs with defense. As you continue to watch Pittsburgh this year, watch for that commitment on the defensive side.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
How do you handicap the Sharks chances of winning the West this year?
Barry Melrose (3:16 PM)
Right now, they're the best team in the West. I don't think anyone doubts that. They're playing great. But we've been down this road before with the Sharks. So, we'll wait and see on them.
How is that Ribeiro signing in Phoenix looking these days?
Barry Melrose (3:17 PM)
Good. I like him. He's a very talented player. They've always been good defensively. If they could score more, they'd be very dangerous. I think he'll pay dividends. This will be a dangerous team. They look very very good right now.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Why hasn't Ovechkin's individual success translated to more team success for the Capitals?
Barry Melrose (3:18 PM)
It's definitely the case this year. He has 9 goals already, he's playing awesome and Washington is under .500. The whole team has to pick it up. They gave up a lot of goal scoring chances last night. The whole team is not playing as hard as Ovechkin. That has to change if they're going to be one of the best teams in the East.
Brent (St. Paul)
Niemi has been playng spectacular so far this season. What's your take on their back-up Alex Stalock?
Barry Melrose (3:19 PM)
Stalock is not getting much ice time because of how well Niemi is playing. They're scoring a ton of goals too. It's great to be Niemi right now.
Don (Chino Hills, CA)
Jonathan Quick is off to a slow start. Should I worry?
Barry Melrose (3:20 PM)
I don't think you worry about it. The team isn't playing great. They're giving up a lot of chances. The year they won the Stanley Cup, they finished 7 or 8, I believe. This is a team that gets better and better. We should see them improve and get back to that L.A. style as the year goes on. And once that happens, Quick will get better.
Christopher (San Diego)
Is Phoenix legit? I just feel with Dave Tippett, that team will always find a way to overachieve.
Barry Melrose (3:21 PM)
They're a good team. You've got some good players out there. Some forwards that can put the puck in the net. They're good defensively, so you're not scoring a lot of goals. You saw it in the playoffs a couple of years ago when they beat Chicago. I like this team a lot.
Barry, what's the key to entering the offensive zone on a power play? I see so many teams struggle to get setup and it leads to so many blown opportunities.
Barry Melrose (3:23 PM)
That's always been one of the hardest things to do. I know it sounds easy when you have the man advantage, but the team scouts your system. That's why good power plays only score one out of five times. That's why Washington's PP is so good. They get good entry and gets set up. That's one of the hardest things in hockey to get it set up and everyone to their spots. It's all due to the scouting of teams against the PP. Everyone knows what you're going to do on entry.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Where does Oilers goalie Grant Fuhr rank on your list of all time great goaltenders?
Barry Melrose (3:24 PM)
Ooooh....I don't think Grant gets enough credit, because his numbers aren't unbelievable. They played in a wide open system. But you have to look at Cups and he has several. I think Grant will never get his due because he played on such an offensive team and one that scored so many goals.
Charles (Taunton, MA)
Hey Barry great work as always...my question is about the Bruins...with the way they have started off this year and the way Tuukka is playing, are the Bruins potentially the team to beat for the Cup this year...remember this team with limited scoring was a 1 minute meltdown away from forcing a game 7 with Chicago last year
Barry Melrose (3:25 PM)
I'd say right now that Pittsburgh is the team to beat in the East. Boston is Boston. When they get to the playoffs, they could easily win again. But if you look at the way teams are playing right now, Pittsburgh is playing the best. But the playoffs seem to be a time when Boston gels. It's their time of the year.
How about a dark horse candidate for Team Canada? Recently heard thoughts that power forward Brent Burns may be getting a look. Might be the best power forward in the NHL right now...
Barry Melrose (3:26 PM)
I think he's one of the guys that's playing himself into a look. I like him a lot. I like the way he's playing. A big power forward who can skate. There are a number of great young players for Canada. But Burns is playing great right now for San Jose.
Josh Harding is having an amazing season. His SV% is .953(2nd behind Rask) and his GAA is 0.96(1st). Jean-Sebastian Giguere is ahead ranked 1st in both categories but I didn't count him because he only has 3GP while Harding has 8 and everyone else has around 7 or 8. Anyway he has been amazing. I know a lot of it is because the Wild have been so dominant on defense and allow the least amount of SOG per game but Harding is still playing great. If the Wilds D keeps it up could Harding continue playing like this? Or atleast and a really high level?
Barry Melrose (3:27 PM)
With Josh, you're just worried about his physical condition. Is he able to play a lot of games. That's what you worry about. Minny needs great goaltending. It's a great story. You cheer for him.
Barry Melrose (3:29 PM)
Really enjoy Boston-Buffalo tonight. And Alfredsson is facing his former team. Only two games tonight, but they're both interesting!