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 Thursday at noon ET!
Scott Burnside (12:00 PM)
Hello all. Welcome back. Three weeks from now we'll be heading into the final week of the regular season. Great drama ahead that's for sure. Now, where were we?
Do the Bruins extend Iginla? Seems like a pretty good fit.
Scott Burnside (12:02 PM)
Marc; I would say Iginla has been more than a good fit. As always with players nearing the end of their careers it's a question of how much term are they looking for and how much term can a team afford to give. Iginla is 36 so my guess is the Bruins would be happiest with another one-year deal but he may be looking for more. But if, as their play right now suggests is likely, there's a long playoff run ahead it's hard to imagine the two sides wouldn't be able to find enough common ground to continue the relationship.
john [via mobile]
are the bruins the favorites in the east. they have been ridiculos winning ten in a row down the stretch. can they win the championship.
Scott Burnside (12:04 PM)
john; Good follow-up question. Bruins are, for my money, the best team in the NHL right now. They've got it all going on from goaltending on out. But the important thing to remember is that a year ago now the Penguins were in the midst of a 15-game winning streak and people were wondering if anyone could beat them. And last year we saw Zdeno Chara get worn down by the finals and other key players like Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell banged up (okay, Campbell had a broken leg). In short, they look very much like a championship squad but a lot of road to travel to make it happen.
Do you think the Lightning get a contract on Callahan? He has already been a great asset to the TBL
Scott Burnside (12:07 PM)
Joseph; My guess is that a lot will depend on what happens to the Bolts over the next five or six (or seven or eight if they're lucky) weeks. I think they're a playoff team but if they can win a round or even two perhaps my guess is it's easier to sell Callahan on a future in Tampa. Of course lots of folks believe he's destined to sign in Buffalo and become a central figure in that team's rebuild given the family ties to the area (he's from nearby Rochester). But you're right he has seemed to adjust more quickly to his new surroundings than Martin St. Louis has adjusted going the other way to the Rangers.
Bodie (Cucamonga, CA)
Why haven't Claude Giroux and Craig Berube been part of the discussion for the Hart and Jack Adams Trophies? Both are deserving.
Scott Burnside (12:09 PM)
Bodie; I think Claude Giroux is likely getting a little more Hart Trophy love than Craig Berube is getting Jack Adams love but your question is a valid one. First, Sidney Crosby is going to win the Hart in a landslide as he should. But the next two finalists will be interesting. I think Ryan Getzlaf is a lock to be one of them but Giroux is in the mix along with Jamie Benn/Tyler Seguin, Jonathan Toews and Phil Kessel. As for Jack Adams I think if the Flyers continue their strong play through the end of the regular season Berube might end up on the ballot. Patrick Roy I would think is the favorite and Ken Hitchcock, Bruce Boudreau, Dan Bylsma and Jon Cooper will all get some love too. Or they should.
Gaborik has been on a little roll lately and has even scored and had a couple of points on the power play. How much could a stronger PP and better cohesion with Gaborik and Kopitar help the Kings down the stretch and in the post season?
Scott Burnside (12:12 PM)
Ben; Gaborik's power play goal against Phoenix on Monday was his first of the season. Yikes. But you're right, he's slowly coming around with three points in the last two games for the Kings. The Kings are a formidable team playoff time because they roll four lines and play such heavy hockey and if you've got a power play that can sting you, well, that's a bonus. I must admit I thought Gaborik was an odd fit for L.A. Thought Matt Moulson or even Mike Cammalleri would have been a better add but time will tell. I think the Kings are going to need Gaborik and guys like Dustin Brown and Mike Richards to up the ante offensively if they're going to move through San Jose/Anaheim and then likely Chicago or St. Louis to get to a final.
Robert (Flyers fan in Arkansas)
Thanks for doing these chats Mr. Burnside. With the Flyers playing arguably one of the toughest remaining schedules (StL and Bos x2 and games against LA, NYR, CBJ, Tor, TB and Pit) if they get points against most or all of these teams, are they one of the most dangerous team in the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (12:14 PM)
Robert; Not sure to whom you refer; 'Mr. Burnside' but thanks for joining in. Flyers as we noted in an earlier question have had a remarkable renaissance but are they really a team that could make a run? Still not sold on team defense and is Steve Mason the guy to get the job done in goal? His numbers have been more up and down in the past couple of months. That said they are hard to play against and have one of the top clutch players going right now in Claude Giroux. Pretty sure teams like Boston, Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers who have an eye to a Cup will want to avoid the Flyers in the first round that's for sure.
In what order do the Leafs, Canadians, and Lightning finish? Whoever finishes third in this race has it the hardest.
Scott Burnside (12:16 PM)
Hannah; I've been selfishly hoping for a Montreal/Toronto first-round matchup not to cover it (I think that duty would fall to Pierre LeBrun) but to watch the drama unfold as a fan from some other NHL city. Not sure that's going to happen though with the Leafs' current swoon and with Carey Price back for the Habs. So will go Tampa, Montreal, Toronto. Now, the bigger question is whether the Leafs can hang onto a playoff spot at all.
Steve (san jose)
Scotty,Is there anything that i should be watching tonight around 7:30pm Pacific time? cant think of anything that would be entertaining.....
Scott Burnside (12:19 PM)
Steve; Rerun of True Detective? Catch up old The Wire episodes? No? Oh, how about the game of the week (and maybe the season depending on how things turn out) between San Jose and Anaheim. These teams are going to bet home ice advantage in the first round regardless but as noted above (below?) no one wants to draw the Kings in the first round and if these two teams were to meet in the second round home ice becomes a big deal as well. So, Sharks/Ducks, tied in points go at it at the Shark Tank tonight. Should be a dandy. Ducks are going to miss Cam Fowler out with a knee injury but lots on the line for sure. My guess? Sharks 4-3 in OT.
George (Rancho Santa Marguarita, CA )
Two-parter: (1) What do you think of the Red Wings roster and chances for making the playoffs? Perhaps the story of the regular season will be Detroit squeezing in with a roster full of rookies from Grand Rapids. (2) How do the Wings address their shortcomings on the blue line this offseason?
Scott Burnside (12:21 PM)
George; Every night another Wing goes down and another call goes out to Grand Rapids. Jonathan Ericsson the latest to hit the IR. Honestly don't see how the Wings can make the jump into the top eight although the play of the Leafs is certainly opening a door at least a crack. And I think given the scarcity of quality free agents on the blue line Ken Holland will be looking inward for defensive help next season. The Stephen Weiss disaster will be a warning about the dangers of over-paying for free agents on July 1.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Scott, if the Penguins bomb out in the playoffs again this year (especially at the hands of the Flyers in the first round, heaven forbid), is it finally time for Bylsma to go? Most people constantly say how good of a job he does with an injury depleted lineup. That is fine for November games against Winnipeg when he can still put 87 and/or 71 out there on the PP. But it gets lost how BAD of a job he does with his full lineup...particularly in big games against BOS and PHI. It is no secret he makes no effort to avoid unfavorable line matchups (Couturier on Malkin, Bergeron on Crosby, Toews on Kessel in the Olympics) and his teams frequently come unglued when things go bad. Then after getting blown out again by Philly we have to hear the same press conference that they "are close" and "just have to get to our game." Then we have a hee-haw at practice and the shootout loser grows a mustache. Yay. At what point does the "our game" message start getting stale?
Scott Burnside (12:25 PM)
Jesse; There is no doubt there are once again high expectations on the Penguins to make a deep playoff run. They should with that team. But I don't think you can discount the impact of the injuries on how the team has played and I think Bylsma deserves a lot of credit for keeping the team on track in spite of those injuries. That said, he and that lineup have to deliver the goods come springtime. A first-round loss against anyone would, I guess, prompt Ray Shero to make a change behind the bench. But let's not forget in spite of being swept by the Bruins in the east final they were still a final four team. What happens to Claude Julien if the Bruins don't come back against Toronto in Game 7 of the first round? My guess is he's gone. But instead he comes within two wins of a second Cup in three years. Fine, fine line when it comes to coaches with really good teams.
Paul (Denver, CO)
Is Varlamov a serious consideration for the Vezina. As we saw in Montreal and Winnipeg, the Avs gave up a lot of goals without him. Fact is why you, Pierre, Craig and Katie have finally stopped calling them 'surprising', a lot of their success falls on him. They get outshot almost nightly, sometimes because of the lead, mostly out of a good but still not great defense giving up a lot of shots. His wins, and respectable save % has to have him in the discussion. Follow up question, considering his play and their dominance so far, regardless of who gets home ice, are the Avs the favorites at this point in a series with the Blackhawks. I think Varlamov has the dominance to steal games.
Scott Burnside (12:29 PM)
Paul; I think Varlamov is certainly a Vezina candidate and I think you can actually make a case for him in the Hart Trophy discussion (again not to win it but to be among the top three or four). Tuukka Rask deserves consideration as does Ben Bishop and it will be interesting to see if Ryan Miller gets a look as he puts up impressive numbers in St. Louis after being solid for a bad, bad Buffalo team all year. Right now, though, if I had a vote (it's the GMs who vote the Vezina) I'd go Varlamov.
Good franchise defensemen are so hard to come by these days, so why to teams continue to draft forwards higher in the first round. It still blows my mind that Seth Jones fell to where he did this year. Yes Mackinnon is on fire and Jones seems to be tiring as the year goes on, but defensemen generally have more productive years towards the back of their careers to more than make up for it. They also get enormous returns if they're traded. Aren't teams being short-sighted? I myself can't wait to see Shayne Gostisbehere wearing orange-and-black in a few years!
Scott Burnside (12:32 PM)
Norm; I think it's a great question and I think a lot has to do with the fact, like goalies perhaps, it's harder to pinpoint 'the sure thing' in young defensemen. At draft time most haven't fully grown into their bodies and so it's considered more of a risk to spend a top five or top 10 pick on a defender when it's easier in theory to say, Nathan MacKinnon or Aleksander Barkov is going to be a franchise type forward. In the end, though, finding those franchise defensemen whether it's a Shea Weber or Drew Doughty or Duncan Keith is crucial to real success just that it's less predictable who they might be when they're 18 or 19.
Ben (different from the one earlier!) (SJ)
Scott - Thank you for mentioning the Sam Tageson story in your column today. What a great story and such professionalism shown by the Sharks in handling the situation. One of the many reasons why sports - especially hockey - are great and can have such an impact on peoples' lives.
Scott Burnside (12:33 PM)
Ben; Sharks have long been on the cutting edge of building bonds with their marketplace. Great organization that has always been considered first class. And that moment with Sam Tageson on the bench waving to the crowd. Wow. If you haven't seen it you must. But not before this chat is over. Thanks Ben.
I'll tell you who I don't to see in the Playoffs: The Habs. I've seen little Danny Briere come alive in April and May enough times before to not discount his age this year. I think fans in Montreal are going to finally appreciate the guy, no? That team is playing some good hockey right now!
Scott Burnside (12:35 PM)
Fred; There are just some guys who are built to play in the playoffs and Daniel Briere, in spite of his diminutive size, is one of them. And you're right, let's say it's Tampa/Montreal he'll get ample opportunity to continue his historic playoff magic (109 points in 108 post-season games in the NHL). And as we saw in Sochi no doubt Carey Price can handle the big stage. Could be fun.
Bruins or Blues, who is going to win the Presidents Trophy? More importantly, how important is the trophy versus resting your top guys to be healthy and rested for the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (12:38 PM)
Kyle; Hockey is so different than football where we regularly see the debate in the NFL about good teams resting starters in the final couple of weeks. My sense is hockey players love the routine of playing so maybe it's a matter of dialing back minutes for guys like Chara or Toews or Crosby as opposed to giving them nights off. Interesting that Patrick Roy gave Varlamov the last couple of nights off to make sure he wasn't burned out with the playoffs looming. As for the Presidents' Trophy not sure it really matters in the end and historically there's no correlation to being the best team and winning the Cup. Last spring road teams had terrific success so home ice is only an advantage if you can win there (he says stating the obvious).
Greg (Orange County, CA)
How big of an impact will Fowler's injury have down the stretch and in the playoffs? And MCL and being out 5 weeks is kind of a big deal.
Scott Burnside (12:40 PM)
Greg; It's big. Not that any team is going to be easy pickings especially in the west but that's why finishing atop the Pacific is so important to the Ducks to give Fowler as much time as possible before returning. Hard to imagine a worse team to try and come back against in a playoff series than the Kings.
Hi Scott, in Tampa where did Tyler Johnson come from? 22 goals (four shorthanded) - do you see him in the Calder conversation? Thanks!
Scott Burnside (12:43 PM)
Matt; Tyler was signed as a free agent in March, 2011 after playing for Spokane for four years. My guess is his size scared folks off but he's needless to say been a great find for the Bolts. As for the Calder Nathan MacKinnon is going to win that award in a walk but Johnson will definitely be in the mix and could be on the final ballot.
Lots of wiggle room in the Eastern Conference wild card spots right now. Who do you think winds up with them when the dust settles? Does Toronto keep plummeting? Does Columbus leapfrog over NY? Do Washington or Detroit claw their way in?
Scott Burnside (12:45 PM)
Matt; Every day I look at the standings trying to figure out where I might end up in the first round. It's exciting but usually gives me a headache because it's so hard to get a handle on. The next week will tell the tale for the Caps. I think they've got a shot to get in given Halak's play in goal. But who comes out? Toronto? I think Columbus stays in and the Flyers have a tough schedule in spite of how well they've played. And what about the Rangers? In spite of crushing the Sens the other night (who doesn't do that?) not sold on where they're at right now. In short; I have no clue.
Your answer for the Fowler question never got posted. Piggybacking off of that, what about Kane being out as well? He would be a big loss too.
Scott Burnside (12:48 PM)
Steve; Thanks for pointing that out. On Fowler, huge loss given his ability to move the puck so effortlessly out of trouble. Hard to imagine a worse team to come back against than the hard-hitting Kings if he's able to get back in the first round which is why finishing on top of the Pacific is doubly important for the Ducks. As for Kane, if he's not ready to go against the Avs (I assume neither of those teams will catch St. Louis) it is needless to say a huge hole in the lineup given his importance to the power play and the entire offense. Now, initial reports said three weeks which could give him a chance to play a game or two before the playoffs but with a knee you never know. Either way not good for either the Ducks or the 'Hawks.
List in the order of importance come playoff time...Coaching, Health, Hot goaltending, production from 4 lines, home ice...and if u had one current coach behind the bench for Game 7 who would it be?
Scott Burnside (12:50 PM)
Shawn; Great question. Okay; Health, Hot goaltending, Coaching, Production from Fourth lines, Home ice...one coach? Dave Tippett.
Nathan (St. Louis)
Was last night's no show against the Hawks a cause for alarm for the Blues or was it just 1 bad game? Do they still have the ability and/or confidence to take the Hawks, Sharks, Kings, or Ducks in a seven game series?
Scott Burnside (12:51 PM)
Nathan; No doubt the Blues will be disappointed with their showing in last night's 4-0 loss. But Ryan Miller's been terrific and that was the first time they've lost in regulation to a Central Division opponent all season. Pretty veteran group in that room, too, so I don't see much to worry about. Probably a bigger win for Chicago than a loss for the Blues if that makes any sense.
This is no knock on Ryan Miller but why do people keep saying he's done it on the big stage? Playing well for 4 games at the Olympics is completely different than being lights out 20+ games in the playoffs. Is my skepticism fair?
Scott Burnside (12:54 PM)
Chris; I actually said the same thing to a friend last night while watching that Chicago/St. Louis game and historically Ryan Miller hasn't had the greatest of playoff success. He wasn't all that great against Philly in the first round in '11 and hasn't been in the playoffs since. Now, he's never played behind a team as good as the Blues and you can't discount the performance in Vancouver in front of the world. But your point is a valid one.
Is there any concern in Pittsburgh that they've morphed themselves into the high-scoring, running and gunning, but defensively irresponsible brand of hockey the Capitals played 5 years ago? We know that brand of hockey just doesn't work in the playoffs.
Scott Burnside (12:57 PM)
Jack; Hard to tell given the injuries especially along the blue line. Marc-Andre Fleury has been real good again during the regular season. Now, how does he respond come mid-April? We saw last year the answer was, ugh. But they should get Paul Martin back and they are still 6th in the league in goals allowed per game and second on the PK so can't be all bad on the defensive side of the puck.
Ryan Miller was .917/2.93 in 2011 against Philly. He was the only reason that series went 7.
Scott Burnside (12:58 PM)
Mike; Perhaps I was unfair. I just know that was a series the Sabres let get away from them as the Flyers were shuttling goaltenders in and out of the lineup and if I recall correctly Chris Pronger was banged-up by the end of that series.
Scott - the seat under coach trotz becoming pretty warm after the last few showings?
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Boyd; With a second straight playoff miss in the offing lots of tough questions for GM David Poile. Was this a function of injuries to Pekka Rinne and early on Shea Weber or is this a team that needs a new voice? One thing for sure the day Barry Trotz gets let go in Nashville is the day his phone rings off the hook with offers from other NHL teams.
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Okay folks, thanks for dropping by. Always a pleasure. Let's do this again next week. Until then, be well.