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 2 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (2:02 PM)
Hi all. Back from an always enjoyable trip to Nashville and preparing to head to California this weekend for Board of Governors meetings and a Sharks/Islanders tilt. Now, where were we?
Chris (Ithaca, New York)
Is Steve Mason for real? Should he be getting Vezina consideration?
Scott Burnside (2:05 PM)
Chris; Yes, I think it's fair to say that Steve Mason is the real deal; again. I recall talking to goaltending coach Jeff Reese during training camp and he thought apart from some of the technical things they were working on that one of the big factors was the Flyers' belief in Mason was going to be a big deal to Mason. It was time for a change and even when the team was struggling Mason has been very consistent. Vezina? Might be a stretch with guys like Carey Price, Semyon Varlamov, Josh Harding also having great seasons but Mason's is a great tale Vezina or not.
Mark (Denver, CO)
Hi Scott. Do you think that Erik Johnson has played himself onto the US Olympic team at this point? He's been quite solid this year for an unheralded Avs defense.
Scott Burnside (2:07 PM)
Mark; A few factors with Erik Johnson both pro and con vis a vis the Olympics. His experience in Vancouver where he was terrific is a plus and you're right he's been very good for an Avs defense that has wildly exceeded expectations. Now, the big ice and his foot speed is a concern but he is a right shot which is also a pro given the number of left-handed shots the U.S. will likely carry. One thing for sure Johnson is a lot closer to making this team than he was when the season started.
RE Michael Del Zotto: Are teams pursuing him? Why would the NYR move him? Could they possibly get an upgrade in return?
Scott Burnside (2:09 PM)
Joe; Would be shocked if the Rangers move the defenseman even if Alain Vigneault isn't happy with his level of play. Sometimes a little tough love is needed but those kinds of players, defenders who can move the puck smartly and have a good offensive up-side, aren't too plentiful so doubt if you'll see the Rangers in a hurry to deal him. That said, if he still is struggling closer to the trade deadline does he become attractive to a team out of the playoffs who could provide a veteran, offensive defender? Maybe that becomes more plausible.
Hawks have some pretty good games the next two nights...how do you think they will fare?
Scott Burnside (2:11 PM)
Sarah; You're right. At Minnesota tonight then home to Anaheim tomorrow. Interesting tilts both and coming on the heels of some roster moves with Pirri being sent down to Rockford in the hopes he'll develop a more complete game. Still, in my books, the 'Hawks remain the team to beat at least in the west. Offense is cooking and for the most part very solid on the back end and in goal. Curious to see how much work Antti Raanta is going to get behind Corey Crawford.
Is there any validity to the statement that Garth Snow wouldn't want to have a new coach start with this tough 5 game road trip and that's why capuano has not been fired yet?
Scott Burnside (2:15 PM)
Jordan; Is there a 'good' time to fire your coach? Up for debate. Not sure it makes any sense in this case if GM Garth Snow believes he needs to make a change he should make a change. The fact the Isles are headed to St. Louis, L.A., Anaheim, San Jose and Phoenix looks like five more nails in the proverbial coffin. Except of course the Isles play in the home of the mediocre, the Metropolitan Division, so even a lousy road trip wouldn't entirely erase them from the playoff picture. Bottom line is this is a team that has taken several steps backwards from last season and is that a function of coaching or personnel? They always say it's easier to fire the coach than the team but it's equally true it's almost always easier to fire the coach than the GM. Guess we'll find out.
Paul (Albany, OR)
Starting to see a bit of separation in the West, at least for the top 8. I know it is still early, but trends are trends, and we are at the quarter pole. Who in the next group can sneak in and who is currently in but needs to be worried? Thanks
Scott Burnside (2:19 PM)
Paul; Was looking at that today in fact and you're right. It's really the top nine that have opened up a bit of a gap with Vancouver in 9th and one point back of the last wildcard spot although they've played two more games. I think Vancouver will continue to be in the hunt which will continue to put pressure on the 'Yotes and the Wild. Anaheim has slumped but pretty good team. The Avs have loads of games in hand and have really rebounded nicely after a three-game slide earlier in November. In short, tough times for Dallas, Nashville and Winnipeg if they're going to overhaul any of the top nine.
Scott, who do you like in tonight's game between the Sharks and Pens?
Scott Burnside (2:20 PM)
David; Love these games. Will go with the Sharks, 4-3 in OT. Tyler Kennedy with the winner, how about that?
When you look at what Scrivens is doing in LA, does that lower your opinion of Quick and Bernier? Maybe it's more about the system and less about the goalie?
Scott Burnside (2:22 PM)
Matt; It's a fair question but I don't think you can downplay the importance of Jonathan Quick to that team nor his play in the playoffs the last two seasons. He is as good a side to side netminder as there is in the game and he is as cool as they come. Yes, Darryl Sutter's teams make it easier on some levels to be a goaltender as is the case with Ken Hitchcock teams or, usually, Dave Tippett teams. But Bernier is showing in Toronto where he's seeing a ton of shots that he, too, was a sound netminder. As for Scrivens wonder if his market value doesn't jump every time he collects a win in Quick's absence.
Lifelong Bruins fan, moved to California from Boston recently. Just got done watching the video with you, Melrose, and Bucci about fighting. Over/Under on 1.5 fights between the Bruins/Habs tonight
Scott Burnside (2:23 PM)
Greg; Was glad Barry couldn't reach me through the Skype machine. I will say under. Should be a good tilt though with the Habs being red-hot. Carey Price will be looking to impress his Canadian Olympic assistant coach Claude Julien that's for sure.
The Lightning have really struggled offensively without Stamkos, getting shut out in 3 of their last 5 games. Do you think they'll be able to stick around in the top 8 until Steven can make it back?
Scott Burnside (2:26 PM)
Spencer; No question things have been rough of late for the Bolts. The old cliche about an injury like Stamkos's opening doors for other people hasn't yet been proven true in Tampa. No question they need more from a bunch of guys while Stamkos rehabs his broken leg. Still, my guess is they'll still be in the top eight or very close by the time Stamkos makes his return whether that's a function of improved play offensively or just the inertia that dominates the Eastern Conference standings is up for debate.
Chris (Chapel Hill, NC)
Justin Peters: Do you think he is going to fetch a decent return if he is traded or should Carolina keep him? He appears to be finally developing into a solid NHL goalie....
Scott Burnside (2:28 PM)
Chris; Nice problem for Jim Rutherford to have if Anton Khudobin can come back from injury and play the way he did before. Peters, like some of the other netminders we've referenced here like Ben Bishop, Ben Scrivens, Jonathan Bernier could be ready to move into a starter's role if given the chance. Would there be a fit with the Islanders? The Isles need something. What about Edmonton pending Ilya Bryzgalov's injury situation?
Phil (Millbrook, NY)
Do you think the Rangers could be a competitor for the cup in the next few years with Hank? Or has our window closed
Scott Burnside (2:32 PM)
Phil; Not sure the window is closed necessarily but definitely not wide open. I think it's fair to question just how much time this team as it's constituted right now has. Rick Nash and his injury issues, Brad Richards moving toward the twilight of his career, the durability of a Marc Staal and whether he is destined to join his brothers in Carolina all are questions. That said this is also a team that has, on paper, the parts to be a Cup contender. That's why the Lundqvist signing and the timing thereof makes sense. Yes, lots of term and big dollars but if it gets done in New York it's going to get done with Lundqvist between the pipes; that is a given.
Walker (Fresno, CA)
Why is the West so much stronger than the East this year?
Scott Burnside (2:34 PM)
Walker; Someone asked Barry Trotz that earlier this week and he thought the defensive structure or game plans in the west seemed to be more evolved. He felt in the Preds' meetings with Eastern Conference teams that the games were more wide open. He did think, however, that the table was starting to level a little bit which was to be expected I think.
Jason (Portland, OR)
Heard a rumor that the Avs may have interest in Florida's Kulikov? Does that fill a void for the Colorado blue line or would he underperform anywhere?
Scott Burnside (2:37 PM)
Jason; I saw Elliotte Friedman from CBC/Hockey Night referenced some level of talks between Florida and Toronto about Kulikov. Lots of skill way too much unevenness for the Panthers' liking at this stage. He'd be a fit in a lot of places including Colorado assuming he can find the consistency he's been missing for the 'Cats. One thing about Patrick Roy, though, he's proven right from the get-go he is a good teaching coach so maybe it would be a nice fit pending what the Panthers are looking for which I am guessing would be an NHL-ready or almost ready young player.
What is wrong with Kris Letang?Starting with the playoffs and now this season he isnt playing like his normal self
Scott Burnside (2:40 PM)
ben; No doubt last spring was a nightmare for Letang (and Pens fans in general) and you wonder how it might have eroded his confidence. Even with the contract extension he still can't seem to shake the mistakes that have come to mark his game. Being injured to start the season didn't help and maybe he is worried bout the Canadian Olympic team (he should stop worrying, by the way, as I don't think that's going to happen for him) but definitely needs to get back on track. On a positive note, the Pens have been patient with guys whose game goes sideways ie. Paul Martin and Letang is still a young man so entirely likely he'll get that swagger back in his game.
Jon (Haymarket, Va.)
Caps have made a few moves today with call ups. Just wondering if you've heard anything about the Erat/Orlav trade requests?
Scott Burnside (2:42 PM)
Jon; Things a bit sideways for the Caps right now. Really miss Brooks Laich and his ongoing injury issues are troubling to say the least. Haven't heard anything vis a vis Martin Erat trade request or anything going on with Orlov. Have to think the fact Erat now wants out of his second team in less than a year is scaring off potential suitors and will certainly drive down his trade value perhaps until we get closer to the trade deadline.
Jason (Philadelphia, PA)
Scott,Did you agree with the Downie for Talbot trade? Seems to me that Downie has been a great addition to the Flyers 3rd line. Not only have they been shutting down the top lines but now providing some offense.
Scott Burnside (2:46 PM)
Jason; Got to spend some time with Steve Downie and his pal Steve Stamkos a couple of years ago in Tampa and was impressed with the changes he'd made in his game and approach and think Paul Holmgren did exceedingly well in that deal although Max Talbot will no doubt become a popular player on and off the ice for the Avs. But Downie's skill set is deceivingly high and he can do a whole range of things, play a whole range of roles and the Flyers have seen them all in the short time he's been back with the team that drafted him. Had this argument with Barry Melrose; he cited the big brawl (Emery on Holtby) against Washington as a turning point for the Flyers. I think it was Downie's acquisition.
Do you see Dave Nonis working the phones to fill the injury gaps, or does he sit tight and hope the Leafs stay afloat long enough to get healthy? Do you see players like Franson and Gardiner being in play?
Scott Burnside (2:50 PM)
Andrew; Interesting times for the Leafs no? And HBO in the house to catch it all. One of the supposed strengths of this team was it's great pool of young defensive talent. Still think that's true but with young defenders there are lots of ups and downs. I think Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis have to figure out the Jake Gardiner thing; do they believe enough in him, in his skill set, to see him as a long-term cog? If not lots of teams would love to see if he'd be a fit for them. Still, it's only defensive depth if you don't trade it away and my guess is Dave Nonis won't be in a hurry to peel off guys like Gardiner or Cody Franson at this stage of the going.
Prediction for the Flyers record during their tough 6 game road trip? Currently 2-1, with visits to dallas, ottawa and chicago still looming. 3-3 or 3-2-1 a good trip and continue to right the ship, so to speak?
Scott Burnside (2:51 PM)
Andrew; How big was that come-from-behind effort against Detroit last night? Four in the third in a 6-3 win. So, I'll modify what I might otherwise have suggested and go 2-1 over the final three games which makes that a pretty decent trip for the Flyers.
Marc (Malden, MA)
I have an idea on how to fix overtime. 10 mins 4 on 4, but teams can only play 1 defenseman.
Scott Burnside (2:55 PM)
Marc; Interesting. The problem with tinkering with overtime is that you run the danger of gimmicking up the gimmick if that makes any sense.
Dont understand all this hype with HBO, teams like Montreal and Edmonton have this done for the entire year.
Scott Burnside (2:56 PM)
Jason; Well, the HBO experience is a little different I think than the in-house stuff teams like Edmonton have put on, more raw, and I think that's what's appealing to so many fans both hardcore and casual.
Might be couple of years before the Avs become cup contenders but I keep reading rumors that they're willing to trade young players for veterans to help in the playoffs. Do you think they should wait for their younger player to develop or go all in right now?
Scott Burnside (2:58 PM)
Don; No doubt Max Talbot was attractive to Patrick Roy given his playoff experience and personality. Always a tough one with an emerging team; do you try and accelerate the process of keep your powder dry which takes more patience. My guess is you won't see Joe Sakic trading away any of the team's top young talent in the hopes of taking advantage of the team's surprising play this season.
Scott Burnside (2:59 PM)
Okay folks have to head out. Let's do it again next week. Thanks for dropping by and be well.