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 4 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (4:02 PM)
Hello all. Welcome back to our weekly puck summit. Hope all is well. Now, where were we?
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Scott, the prevailing sentiment the last few years (led by our boy Lebrun) has always been that the Western Conference is MUCH better than the East. Is this still true? While Detroit may be the best team in the league (again), arguably the pecking order then goes Pitt, Philly, Wash, Mon, Bos...all in the East. Do you think any of the other western contenders like Chi, Van, Dal, LA, SJ, Stl, Phx, Nash are better than those eastern teams right now...I don't. True the East has the two worst teams in the league in NYI and NJD , but the West has Edmonton and Calgary. And don't give me the "West is best bc less points separate the top from the bottom" argument because all that means is the Western teams are more evenly matched in their mediocrity...not that they are necessarily that good....meanwhile in the East the five best teams almost never lose to the worst teams.
Scott Burnside (4:05 PM)
Jesse; Interesting I made a similar point this week when looking at the top four defensive teams in the NHL all of whom are from the East; Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh and Philly. Now you can argue that there are more bad teams in the east and that might be true; Ottawa, Toronto, Florida along with NJ and the NYI, but still you can't take away from what those top defensive teams have accomplished and what that might mean come playoff time.
Jake (Hockeytown, USA)
Scott, how goes it? What's wrong with the Wings lately? I'm thinking that maybe I'm spoiled/expecting them to win every night. Are there any moves to be made before the trade deadline?
Scott Burnside (4:07 PM)
Jake; I think it's a good thing to expect to win every night. I think that's how the Wings got to where they are. And they're certainly in a better spot than a year ago when they were hanging in in the face of serious injuries. I think the lack of goaltending depth is a problem; Jimmy Howard can't play every single night. But beyond that this is a real good team that has hit a wobble that every team does. They're also the kind of team who can turn on a dime and win 9 of 10 etc. Still the best team in the West for my money.
Do you think the Hawks will make a trade? If so, who would be trade bait?
Hi Scott, what are your thoughts of the Seabrook no-call last night? Do you have to have intent to throw a stick in order for a penalty shot to be called? I do not believe Seabs tried to throw his stick.
Scott Burnside (4:10 PM)
Rich; I've watched it a couple of times and, like you, don't think it was a deliberate attempt to the throw his stick more like it came loose as he fell and was trying to sweep the puck away. That said we don't ask for intent on a high stick or a trip (most of the time) so not sure why intent is an issue in this case. Don't think Marc Crawford liked the non-call much.
I asked Melrose basically the same thing, but are the Minnesota Wild the next Toronto Maple leafs? By that I mean passionate fanbse following a team that is best known for losing. Is there any reason to have a positive outlook in MN?- Wild Fan
Scott Burnside (4:14 PM)
Jered; Well I'm sure Barry answered more eloquently than I ever will. But I understand the sentiment. I think they're different than Toronto in that the Toronto market is immune to all sorts of bad things; economic downturn, bad PP, bad PK, years of not making the playoffs. I'm not sure the Wild are in that boat. I'm not sure the fan base in Minnesota will be that forgiving. At some point the lack of forward progress is going to cost that franchise. It will be a sad day when that happens, too, as there are few fans as passionate about the game than those in Minnesota. They deserve better.
J.T. (The better side of PA)
Burnside,You gave the Pens an A and the Caps and Flyers A-. Can you explain that reasoning? Sure, the Pens are on an unbelievable run right now. The Caps have been consistently good. The Flyers had a very similar run. Fact is all three teams have been, to this point, pretty even overall. Why the lower grade for Washington and Philly?
Scott Burnside (4:16 PM)
J.T.; I think the Pens were just slightly ahead given their terrific play of late and the rebounding of Marc-Andre Fleury. Different shades of greatness from the three teams I think are cut from a different cloth than the rest of the pack. Hard to imagine two of the three won't be in the conference final in May.
Brendan (Kingston, ON)
Hi scott. There seems to be a lot of talk about the Sharks trying to make a deal for another top four D man. How likely do you think they will be able to acquire a top flight Defensive presence and what sort of potential deals might happen?
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
Brendan; I agree that the Sharks would like to bolster their blue line. They have had some injuries throughout their line-up but still lack a veteran presence back there to help stabilize the unit come playoff time. Where to find one, though? As we saw with Scott Hannan, a four/five/six defenseman who recently went to Washington from Colorado, it took a player who immediately became a top six forward for the Avs in Tomas Fleischmann. The Caps could spare that part but can the Sharks spare a similar top young player? Given the number of good young players/draft picks Doug Wilson has spent chasing a Cup the last few years I will be surprised if he adds anything but an auxilliary piece between now and the trade deadline and rather will hope to find the answer from within the Sharks' system.
You're building a team and have to take the top 6 defensemen from any one team, who's blueline do you grab?
Scott Burnside (4:20 PM)
Brian; Great question. We were joking with Carolina GM Jim Rutherford in Florida this week about when he talks about good coaches, good teams etc. he always asks, who's in goal? That said right now I'd start with the Philadelphia blue line with Pittsburgh, Chicago and Los Angeles right behind if we're talking one through six.
Do you think the Rangers will have a playoff spot at the end of the season or no? Also what do you think will happen to Rask now that Thomas is obviously amazing
Scott Burnside (4:21 PM)
andrew; I do think the Rangers will hang onto a playoff spot because they work hard and have good goaltending. Also, not sure which of the teams currently out of the picture are capable of jumping back in; Carolina? Lots of home games down the stretch. Buffalo? Maybe. But the Rangers have positioned themselves nicely.
Craig G. (Fairfield, CA)
Hey Scott, are there any upper-tier teams you think will fall off the pace because of lack of depth? Thanks!
Scott Burnside (4:24 PM)
Craig; I wonder about Tampa specifically because their goaltending has been so shoddy. That's a killer. (Newsflash!) Atlanta will be a question mark because they're young and have little experience as a franchise in winning pivotal games in March and early April but I think they'll hang onto a post-season spot. In the west have to wonder about the Stars' depth along the blue line and whether Kari Lehtonen (out last night) is durable enough to carry the freight for the entire season.
Do you think that Ovechkin slumping has anything to do with backstrom and semin becoming more and more of priorities to the capitals team
Scott Burnside (4:26 PM)
Adam; Not sure they are related. It is interesting though that Semin seems to have become more mature and willing to take on a bigger role in a season that we've seen Ovechkin slump at least by his standards. Still have to believe Ovechkin will go on a tear and close the gap in the scoring race just for fun (or just for the HBO cameras).
Milan Lucic (Boston)
30 goals for me this year Scott?
Scott Burnside (4:27 PM)
Milan; Stay healthy and I say, yes. You are one of the reasons people like to think the Bruins have a long playoff run ahead of them. No pressure.
Julian Assange (England)
What do the leafs need to start competing for the cup again?
Scott Burnside (4:29 PM)
Julian; Welcome from the land of the deep fried carrot. Well, so much, really, to do in Toronto. But I think a top-notch center is a good place to start. And I'm not sure this team will get over the hump with Ron Wilson behind the bench. Not trading away draft lottery picks would be a good thing to avoid, too.
Scott Burnside (4:32 PM)
Missed an earlier question from Rich from Chicago about trade bait. Given the overhaul in the off-season I will be shocked if the Blackhawks do much come trade deadline. For them it will be about getting healthy (Kane and Hossa for starters) and then trying to find the groove through the last third of the season.
Is Hulsizer saving my coyotes in order to flip them down the road for more money while the city eats up the losses?
Scott Burnside (4:33 PM)
Mark; We'll see what kind of provisions for keeping the team in Glendale are in the new lease, likely next week, but no sense he's looking to flip. Now, can we say the answer will be the same in a decade? But short-term this isn't a buy and flip kind of thing. Not in Gary Bettman's NHL.
Scott, was Gary Bettman not only talking to the Thompson family in Winnipeg and the Quebec city mayor about franchises and now you say that he has no interest in relocation or expansion. Are Winnipeg and Quebec city just a bunch of pawns in Bettman's game?
Scott Burnside (4:36 PM)
Andrew; Certainy David Thomson and the True North group that own the Manitoba Moose were poised to buy the Coyotes and move them to Winnipeg. And they'd still like an NHL team. Likewise there is an ownership group in Quebec City that would like a team if a new arena can get built (lots of politics surrounding that issue). As for the NHL's interest in coming back to Canada I think there is interest but it has to be a perfect storm for it to happen. If you're a cynic perhaps those cities might be seen as being pawns but I believe the NHL isn't against the idea of going back to Canada but they also hate the idea of relocation. A bit of relocation gridlock.
James (Orange County, Ca)
What does Cam Fowler have to do the rest of the season to be a legit Calder candidate?
Scott Burnside (4:37 PM)
James; I think right now he'd be among four or five guys that would be fighting to get on the final ballot. If he keeps playing the minutes he is now and the Ducks can stay close to a playoff spot I wouldn't be surprised to see him on the ballot. It's always a little harder for defensemen to win this trophy unless they put up big numbers (a la Tyler Myers) but Fowler's been impressive in all facets of the game.
Austin (East Lansing)
What would it take for Pavel Datsyuk to win the Hart Trophy this year?
Scott Burnside (4:38 PM)
Austin; I think he'll have to be in the top five in scoring to get a sniff. Fair or not. He's 9th right now and if we voted today he wouldn't be among my top five.
Coincidence that ATL is much better without Ilya while NJ is much worse? I think not.
Scott Burnside (4:42 PM)
CC; No coincidence there. It shows you how difficult it is sometimes to find the right player or players to compliment a dominant talent like Kovalchuk. Sometimes it's addition by subtraction and the Thrashers are by far the better 'team' right now.
Michael Leighton (Philadelphia)
I'm getting healthy again Scott. What's my status for the rest of the year? Bobrovsky is playing well, and there are rumors I'll be shopped. How do you see it?
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Michael; When you're game-ready I expect the Flyers will send Brian Boucher down and let you try and help lessen Bob's workload. He has shown some signs of being worn down a little (last night being an example). Now, if you light it up when you come back maybe you become trade bait or you just bide your time and take the Flyers to the Cup final again.
Hey scott, see crosby having any shot at going 50 in 50?
Scott Burnside (4:47 PM)
Paul; Funny how we were all over Steven Stamkos and the 50-in-50 talk a week or so ago and I think he's gone six games without a goal. But yes Crosby has a legitimate shot. He scores in bunches, is always around the net and the PP is really cooking (I know, chicken/egg thing) so assuming good healthy yes he has a shot.
Do you think Patrick Sharp could put up 40 or dare I say 50 goals this season? He's on pace to do it right now.
Scott Burnside (4:48 PM)
Rich; With Hossa and Kane out there's certainly a lot of pressure on Sharp to keep up that production. But he's been such an important part of the team's successes the past couple of years I expect he'll continue to thrive. And I do think 40 is a possibility. Fifty? That's a bit of a stretch.
The Habs have had a great season thus far, and with Markov (arguably their best position player) out for the year, they also have a lot of cap space. Do you see them making a move (or two)? Who do you see as their top targets?
Scott Burnside (4:51 PM)
Howard; True the Habs for me are one of the big surprises of the season thanks in large part to Carey Price. Jacques Martin's done a great job on the team's defensive schemes. I am not sure they've got enough offense to keep up with the big boys in the East come playoff time so maybe some scoring depth come trade deadline would be nice.
The Bruins are talented, but do you think Claude Julien's conservative, defensive approach can lead a team to a Stanley Cup in today's NHL?
Scott Burnside (4:53 PM)
Eric; I know the perception of the Bruins is that they are a bit plodding yet offensively and on the PP they are in the top half of the NHL. And I think the style they play is condusive to a good, long playoff run. If Savard can get back to form and with the season Lucic is having the Bruins have lots of complimentary scoring and I think would make a lot of teams nervous.
Jason (Long Island, NY)
Hey SB! Obviously everyone wants the Rangers to acquire Richards (impossible because of their cap situation), are their cheaper options they could acquire without mortgaging their future?
Scott Burnside (4:55 PM)
Jason; Everyone assumes Richards will be available before the end of February but not sure it'll happen. And there will always be veteran scorers who are available like a Cory Stillman but teams are less and less inclined even to part with deeper draft picks. I like the young pieces Glen Sather has assembled in New York (who thought they'd ever see that written?) and I think it will be a shame if he succumbs and deals some of those valuable parts.
So two of the Calder Canidates faced off last night (Bobrovsky and Couture). Couture scored in regulation and in shootout. Seeing how he has 13 goals (tied for top on the Sharks) and 4 game winning goals isn't time that he is looked at for the top nominee for the Calder? Cause if Im not mistaken there hasn't been a word on his tear through the NHL.
Scott Burnside (4:57 PM)
Mike; I think there is a growing sense of how good Couture has been. Like Cam Fowler in Anaheim it is sometimes hard to get a sense of the buzz because they're on the west coast. That said he would be on my ballot right now.
Mario (Milwaukee, Wi)
Richards to Kings on the deadline, they have the picks to give them and the cap space.
Scott Burnside (4:58 PM)
Mario; I like that idea. Think Dean Lombardi does too. Again, if you're Joe Nieuwendyk do you keep Richards and hope for a playoff round win or two even if you sense he'll bolt July 1? It may be a situation where a team has to overpay in terms of assets and you're right the Kings have some to spare. But how much is too much? Great debate to follow the rest of the season.
5 best defensemen in your opinion right now?
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Matt; Current level of play I would go; Nicklas Lidstrom, Kris Letang, Dustin Byfuglien, Duncan Keith and Chris Pronger.
I know we're still a little ways away but it's gonna be coming up quick.... (and the game on the 23rd will give us a better idea)but what's your prediction for this year's Winter Classic? besides bitter cold, snow, and a heated rivalry?
Scott Burnside (5:01 PM)
John; I am pumped for this and am looking for a 5-4 overtime win for the Penguins. In the snow.
Scott Burnside (5:01 PM)
Okay folks, thanks as always for dropping by. Back to Monday next week. See you then. Sb