Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (3:58 PM)
Hello all. Well, the clock ticks down to the post-season. Bring it on. Now, where were we?
Hey Scott,The Sabres young players seem to be really stepping up with the absent of two of its best scorers. Do you think that they can keep it up into the post season?
Scott Burnside (4:00 PM)
Matt; Agreed, the play of the Sabres has been impressive since the Olympic break and they have shown they'll be a force to be reckoned with once the playoffs begin. I am interested to see which players among that young core group steps forward when it really counts assuming they get into a second-round match-up against New Jersey or Pittsburgh. But it's been impressive to watch them come together.
Scott, do you think the Coyotes' power play could really hurt them come playoff time? They're 28th in the NHL in power play pct, and they went 0 of 9 against Edmonton Saturday.
Scott Burnside (4:02 PM)
Tim; In a word, yes. Although sometimes regular season stats don't necessarily translate to the playoffs as we saw with the Penguins last year after they were brutal on the PP during the regular season but rounded into form once the playoffs started. But there's no question the 'Yotes need to be able to do some damage with the man advantage if only to keep opposing teams honest, to make them think that they can't get away with committing fouls. The addition of Wojtek Wolski has helped but they need to be more dangerous.
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Scott, when Teemu Selanne scored his 600th career goal last week we saw plenty of career highlights including his "machine gun stick" celebration when he broke Bossy's rookie goal record. What would be the reaction if a player did that celebration in today's NHL...especially a rookie! Ovechkin got killed for his "hot stick" celebration and he is the two time Hart winner....
Scott Burnside (4:04 PM)
Jesse; You bring up a good point. How about Tiger Williams riding his stick like a bronco after scoring? I don't mind emphatic displays of celebration as long as they appear to be spontaneous. Honestly? I didn't even mind the Ovechkin hot stick. It's a game for crying out loud.
Tim (Guam, Western Pacific Ocean)
Can the Caps actually adopt and play a defensive game come the playoffs? The scoring in buckets theory really isn't playoff hockey for most successful Cup teams.
Scott Burnside (4:06 PM)
Tim; Agreed that it's been a long time since a team played a run and gun style and won a Cup (okay, how about the Oilers anyone?) but I also think the Caps' defensive deficiencies have been a bit over-stated. The first round will be a good barometer, I think, as they should cruise through whichever team they face but it will give a good indication of whether they can tighten up when needed. I suspect they will.
Scott give me your elite 8 in the NHL who will be left after round 1 of the playoffs? Will you go chalk or is there teams in the bottom 4 in each conference that you expect to see in round 2 of the playoffs.
Scott Burnside (4:09 PM)
Jason; A little hard to tell given the uncertainty of the match-ups (see, I am hedging already) but the east is pretty much a gimme; Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and New Jersey.The west is a bit more problematic but here goes based on today's match-ups; San Jose, Chicago, Detroit, Nashville.
The Hart Trophy winner will be....
Scott Burnside (4:10 PM)
Luke; Ovechkin's swoon during the last couple of weeks has made this the most hotly-contested Hart race in a long time (well, since Joe Thornton/Jaromir Jagr in '06). My vote still goes to Ovechkin. I think Crosby will win.
Scott the kings have finally made the playoffs, first time since 2001-02. Seeing as they have been a pretty good road team can stating out on the road actually be an advantage to them. Also the league must love LA being back in the playoffs right?
Scott Burnside (4:12 PM)
Joe; I think the league is happy, yes. And I think for a young team that is still trying to figure out its identity starting on the road isn't necessarily a bad thing. Let's say they start in Chicago, as they would as of today, and can put some pressure on Antti Niemi and the 'Hawks you never know how that will impact a series.
Jason (Portland, OR)
Scott, it's been a nail biter down the stretch for Avs and Flames fans. After the Flames big win next week it looked like Calgary in 8th, but now it seems advantage Colorado. Which team do you think should be bracing themselves for the post-season and which should be dusting off their golf clubs?
Scott Burnside (4:14 PM)
Jason; Well, even though the Avs are the masters of their own destiny - up two points on Calgary with a game in hand - they look like a team that's hit the wall. It's a cliche but they look like a team that's playing not to lose and that's a hard mindset to get out of. I think the Flames catch the Avs although tonight will go a long way to telling the tale with the Flames playing host to San Jose and the Avs in Vancouver.
Stevo (Pottstown, PA)
You continue to hammer Flyers GM Holmgren for not trading for a goalie at the trade deadline. The fact is that they had 1 goalie injured (Emery) at the time. In your mind, how was he supposed to know that they would be dressing 6 goalies since then (Emery, Boucher, Leighton, Backlund, Duchesne, Hutton, Caron)?
Scott Burnside (4:16 PM)
Stevo; Agreed that Paul Holmgren can't be blamed for not knowing Michael Leighton was going to get hurt. He can - and should - be blamed for trusting his team's playoff hopes to a tandem that included Leighton and Brian Boucher. He needed to have a better back-up plan (as it were) than he did. And now it may cost the Flyers a playoff spot and a decent playoff run.
Who wins tonight in Kovalchuks reunion with ATL? Can ATL still make the playoffs with a loss tonight?
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
Sean; You are forcing me into areas of math but I believe if the Flyers win and the Thrashers lose they are cooked. As for tonight the Thrashers have played well against Washington and Pittsburgh and come up with one point. I think they gut out a win at home just to prove a point (as it were). 4-2 Thrashers.
Scott, last year the Pens had the shutdown line of Gill-Scuderi and the feeling is that Orpik and possibly Letang would be the shutdown pair in the playoffs. Is it too early to throw Letang into this role or would McKee or Leopold with Orpik be a better move? Also why hasn't Goligoski progressed?
Scott Burnside (4:20 PM)
Mark; I think that's going to be an interesting playoff story line, which pair fills the void created by the departure of Gill and Scuderi. I don't think the Pens have been all that pleased with Jay McKee and not sure he's well-suited for that role. I think you'll see a lot of Orpik and Sergei Gonchar in the most crucial of situations.
Do you see thing Kings moving past the first round?
Scott Burnside (4:22 PM)
Allen; I like their chances against San Jose better than I do against Chicago even with the 'Hawks' goaltending issues. I think the Kings' familiarity with San Jose would help plus starting in San Jose where there is a tremendous amount of pressure might not be a bad thing. Bottom line is Jonathan Quick is going to have to be very good and out-play either Evgeni Nabokov or Antti Niemi for the Kings to have a chance.
You keep talking about a back-up plan for the Flyers in net, but who was really avaiable, Biron, Turco, Rolson? I really don't think they are THAT much of upgrade over Leighton (who wasn't injured at the trade deadline), plus cap implications. To me, none of those guys were the answer in net at the time.
Scott Burnside (4:24 PM)
Chris; Not to beat a dead horse but Leighton had never played a single NHL playoff game. Boucher had not had not been a starter in the playoffs for a decade. Biron? Took the Flyers to the conference final two years ago. It's about hedging your bets. Two years ago the Habs traded Cristobal Huet at the deadline and went with two rookies, Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Might have cost them a trip to the finals. It should have been a lesson learned and it wasn't.
Jon (St. Louis)
Are the B's sneaking into the playoffs? And if they do, don't that have the type of makeup (goaltending, defense) that might afford an upset?
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
Jon; Big, big point last night. I thought of the teams scrambling to get in the Bruins might fall out given their schedule and their lack of offense. Even if they do get in they'll get waxed by Washington. They're best hope, I think, is to slide into the 7th seed and hope New Jersey ends up in the 2nd seed. They are both used to playing low-scoring games and I figure that's their best shot at an upset and frankly it's a long-shot at best.
Whats up with ovechkin not scoring. Is he in a funk or is he just not really caring about awards and saving it for the playoffs
Scott Burnside (4:27 PM)
Jason; I'm not sure Ovechkin is a guy who saves things or goes half-speed. But he does seem like a guy just putting in time waiting for the playoffs. Another cliche, of course, is that you don't just hit a switch come playoff time so it will be interesting to see how Ovechkin finishes up the week and then starts off in what should be a big mismatch for the Caps in the first round regardless of who they play.
Who is Detroit's best matchup in the first round? I really like their chances against Chicago, because of the time difference (only 1 hr), Chicago's injured defense, and Marian Hossa. If I was him, I do not want to play my previous team in the playoffs....AGAIN!
Scott Burnside (4:28 PM)
Ray; Love the idea of a Chicago/Detroit re-match from last spring. If they sneak into 5th (two points back of Nashville with a game in hand) they would likely play Phoenix which, as much as I love what the Coyotes have done this season, might be a better match-up for the Wings even though it's more travel.
Scotty (Washington DC)
Scott all the media are pretty much expecting the CAPS to blow there first round opponent out of the water, but I dont like it IMO I think it could jinx them. Could you please atleast say the CAPS will lose in the first round from here on out to take away from my stress. It will be much appreciated. Thanks
Scott Burnside (4:29 PM)
Scotty; Sorry. Can't imagine a scenario where the Caps lose any more than one game in the first round.
Andy (Atlantic City)
Scott, The habs have woken up defensively at the right time should I worry that their main offensive guns like Camilleri, Gionta, A. Kostisyn, etc.. haven't really "awaken" to ensure their playoff run?
Scott Burnside (4:31 PM)
Andy; Yes, it's been weird that with Mike Cammalleri back in the line-up the offense has gone cold but they are an interesting team and may be the kind of team that would give Pittsburgh, Buffalo or Jersey an interesting time. Those guys up front will have to get it going, though, if the Habs are to get into upset mode.
Adam (Denver, CO)
All you hear is how folks are worried about Niemi being the starter for Chicago in the playoffs, and certainly it's true that if Chaicago had it's pick they'd probably prefer to trot out a tested guy like Brodeur or Roy in net. But don't people forget how guys like Cam Ward, Ron Hextall and even a young Roy played out of their minds as rookies or young players? Can't inexperience actually help certain players come playoff time?
Scott Burnside (4:33 PM)
Adam; Agreed. And Niemi has put up good numbers and played quite well behind a very good, solid team so there is no reason the 'Hawks can't have another deep playoff run. And you mention good young goaltenders who helped their teams on those kinds of runs. I think the fretting has everything to do with the high, high expectations heaped on this Blackhawks team. They'll have to get over that and get down to business or they may not even get out of the first round given how tough the Western Conference is.
Scott, Dallas has missed the playoffs twice in a row now. What happened to that team we all loved that made it to the Western Conference finals against Detroit a few years ago? And do you think Modano is truly done?
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
Josh; Good question. Ownership got antsy and pushed Les Jackson and Brett Hull out and brought in Joe Nieuwendyk who then made what I think was a panic move and fired Dave Tippett. Not sure the coaching search was as wide-reaching as it should have been given that Marc Crawford has had almost no success since winning the Cup in '96. Still, lots of interesting young pieces in Dallas. Big question is whether Kari Lehtonen can pick up the pieces of his career. As for Mike Modano I think he walks away and waits the three years to walk into the Hall of Fame.
pls tell me that the Ducks still have a chance!
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
Riko; It would be a big, fat lie if I said that.
Imre (Missoula, MT)
You're just trying to get under my skin right? "hawks may not even get out of the first round?????????????????" You should be committed! That is a very short-sighted and uneducated opinion. You obviously have not watched them much this season or over the past few games.
Scott Burnside (4:38 PM)
Imre; You're right. I forgot the 'Hawks were the only team to get a bye to the second round. Or is it straight to the finals? Ever see the San Jose Sharks play in the playoffs? Ever hear of the Detroit Red Wings and how they won the Presidents' Trophy in 2005-06 and then spit the bit to an Oilers team that barely made the playoffs? But you're right, the Hawks are a lock.
A Canucks fan in sunny(well most of the time) Lisbon here. Scott, do you think Luongo can upgrade his game for a long Canucks-run at the Stanley Cup? I'm afraid that, now that we have some exploding offence, that the goalie will be a problem
Scott Burnside (4:40 PM)
Joe; Welcome. Interesting to watch the Luongo show since the Olympics. I thought winning the gold medal was supposed to erase all doubt about his abilities and yet he seems even less mentally sure of himself than before. The Canucks are a very good team with lots going for them but they are banged up on defense and Luongo will have to have his 'A' game if they are going to get past a team like Detroit whom they would play if the playoffs started tonight. Or even Los Angeles which has more experience than people think.
Ryan (Napa, CA)
How does the Peter Mueller concussion effect the Avs going forward? He has been one of the best players in all of hockey since the trade deadline. Also, do the Avs sign him to a deal in the offseason?
Scott Burnside (4:42 PM)
Ryan; Well, at the risk of sounding obvious it doesn't help much that Mueller is likely gone for the season. He will be a restricted free agent this summer so the Avs will almost certainly lock him up in the off-season (barring an offer sheet which isn't likely to happen).
"the b's will get waxed by washington". did you watch the game last night? washington got 3 questionable goals - one that actually wasn't over the line, one that involved knuble bowling over rask, and one on a 4-3 in overtime. if the b's can consistently matchup chara with the caps top line, they can win SEVERAL games in a series!
Scott Burnside (4:43 PM)
Tommy; Caps haven't had to play a meaningful game in weeks.
Paul (Detroit, MI)
Any chance the Red Wings will start Osgood over Howard in the playoffs based on the experience factor? The last few months its as if Ozzie does not even exist anymore.
Scott Burnside (4:44 PM)
Paul; No. That's not going to happen. But I will say this, it's not a bad thing to have a guy who's won three Stanley Cups and was within a goal or two of winning a fourth last spring as your Plan B. If Jimmy Howard goes sideways Chris Osgood will get a chance to show he's still got the goods.
Scott; Why does Peter Chiarelli still have a job? Either the man has no idea how anemic our offense is, or the Seidenberg trade is doing wonders for our offense that I am missing. Will he pull a Danny Ainge and save his career in one offseason, or will we finally see the end of the Chiarelli era?
Scott Burnside (4:47 PM)
Andrew; I thought Peter Chiarelli displayed uncommon restraint at the trade deadline. He could have dealt a first-round pick and a top prospect for Ray Whitney or gone whole hog to acquire Ilya Kovalchuk but the Bruins simply aren't that close to winning a Cup. Instead, he'll have a lottery pick in June thanks to the Leafs and the Kessel trade and another first-rounder next year plus his other draft picks and he can re-tool and with Tuukka Rask emerging as a top-flight goaltender be back in the Cup hunt next year. Good on him for not blowing his brains out to finish 8th or 7th and be done a week into the playoffs.
Which playoff teams or contenders have the weakest goalies
Scott Burnside (4:49 PM)
Joe; Lots of questions about goaltending from good teams. We've discussed Antti Niemi and his inexperience. How about Evgeni Nabokov in San Jose who has never quite got it right in the post-season. Jose Theodore has had a renaissance season in Washington but remember he lasted one playoff game last spring before getting the hook. The Red Wings look tough to beat but Jimmy Howard has never played in a playoff game before. Even the incomparable Martin Brodeur has been surprisingly ineffective in recent playoff outings against Carolina and the New York Rangers. So, lots of questions for good, good teams.
Doc (Knoxville, TN)
Looking back over Kessel's season versus Boston's pick, do you evaluate the trade any differently for either team?
Scott Burnside (4:51 PM)
Doc; Lots of people hate this trade for the Leafs and always win (barring a Cup win for Toronto and we know that's not happening anytime soon). I think it'll take a couple of years at least to know if this was a bust for Toronto or not. The Leafs have been better since the Olympics and Kessel is a gifted player who, assuming good health, should be a perennial 40-goal guy. The picks they gave up could be something much more significant. Or not. Leafs make the playoffs next year and I think Brian Burke would tell you it was worth it regardless.
Scott, as a loyal Pens fan, I have been worrying about Geno this year. He has been streaky and I heard talk of them getting him help in the season, then the foot injury. Is he a playoff questionmark for the Pens?
Scott Burnside (4:52 PM)
Marc; My sense is that the Pens have been very cautious with Evgeni Malkin. Yes, he's been off his production of a year ago but when he's been healthy - see the Pens' game against Atlanta - he's still a dynamic player. I think he'll be fine or close to fine by mid-week next when the real action begins.
any news on the gonchar extension? does he walk at seasons end?
Scott Burnside (4:55 PM)
Jeremy; No news to report. I can't see Gonchar going anywhere. Wouldn't you take a little less money to stick around with Malkin, Crosy, Fleury et al and maybe add a ring or two more?
Chris Pronger (Philadelphia)
I am really causing problems in my locker room? Also, will I win the Norris?
Scott Burnside (4:56 PM)
Chris; Probably not as many problems as bloggers would have Flyer fans believe. Sorry. No Norris for you this year, though.
Randy (Kansas City)
Of the teams most likely to be in the playoffs, are any coaches on the hot seat if their teams don't do well, or will all 16 likely be safe?
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Randy; I think there's some pressure on Bruce Boudreau to get the Caps deep which shouldn't be a problem. Another first-round departure for the Sharks will be a problem for Todd McLellan I would think although GM Doug Wilson may be in trouble, as well, if the Sharks are one-and-done again. Alain Vigneault will feel the heat, too, in Vancouver if the Canucks don't get out of the first round.
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Well folks, always a pleasure. Let's do it again next week. See you Monday when the dust clears on all the match-ups.