Scott will be here soon!
Top of the season, hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday. Looking forward to your questions!
Hey Scott, what do you think of the Blackhawks and their seven game win streak? Also, any thoughts on Duncan Keith being of the ballot, it's a shame right?
Funny, I was just talking about this with Pierre LeBrun about how good the Blackhawks are. We are not at the halfway point yet, and it is very early to consider playoff matchups, but I am impressed by their goal differential which is very close to the SJ Sharks; they are 8-1-1 over the last 10 games and they are playing great defense. Yes their offense is amazing, but to me it is their defensive game that has been most impressive. And yes Keith is an underrated player, and the All-Star ballot is a bit of a sham. It is a world onto itself, not really based in reality. But it will be interestring to see how much attention eh gets when it comes to the Norris Trophy. I think he will get some attention if he continues his current level of play.
Did we learn anything about the Rangers this week? Did they exceed expectations on the West Coast road-trip?
Well, I am not sure they exceeded expactation as they got back to playing the kind of hockey we saw at the start of the regular season. After failing to land Sundin, maybe that was a wake up call. The team was expecting a major shakeup that did not happen. They put in some good efforts out West, but they still do not score enough and are not good enough on defense to be considered a Cup contender. Again this is a team that is a work in progress as we approach the holiday break.
I want to hear what you have to say about Sydney Crosby's actions last week. You kill the Flyers after anything saying there the dirtiest team alive and in my opinion thats one of the cheapest, dirtiest, and gutless things a player can do.
Interesting to hear such vitriol coming from a Flyers fan. In my defense, I do not think I suggested they are the dirtiest team alive, although last season they at times seemed to be vying for the title, but I agree with you to a point. Crosby crossed a line against Atlanta. He was seen pilling on and punching a Thrasher and was given a minor penalty, although being the third man in he could have been given a suspension by the league. I think all the issues are fair and valid points you bring up.
Do you think the Bruins can continue to succeed with the loss of Patrice, and sturm being out for an extended period of time?
Certainly they are a feel good story of the first three months of the season and Patrice Bergeron return from last year's injury has been a feel good story within a feel good story. His loss for a numbers of weeks is a tough one. His point totals are not what they used to be or were before his injury, but he is a complete player who kills penalties and plays on the power play, combine that with the loss of Sturm for at least a month, and yes those are two big holes you need to fill. But the Bruins have managed to pile up points and score a lot really without significant contributions from either player. Sturm has missed about a dozen games before the msot recent injury, so it was not like they were rellying on him. He is a very underrated second scorer, but they have not looked to him constantly throughout the season. Krejci and Wheeler and Milan Lucic have really stepped forward in terms to supplementary scoring and are the big contributors behind the teams big guns. So, in short, you hate to lose guys, but I think the Bruins have shown that they have remarkable depth upfront and I do not expect them to miss a beat going forward.
Any thoughts on the Winter Classic at Wrigley? We're going nuts here in Chicago.
In talking to collegues about our trip to chicago and it is hard not to get excited about it. I was in Buffalo a year ago, and it turned out to be a stellar day and Chicago should be even more compelling with the histrory of Wrigley, in the city proper, the festive atmosphere that I think will surround the game. I think there are some nerves when it comes to an event like this wondering what will happen because the potential for disaster exists at every turn and that adds to the drama. A lot of folks around the hockey world will be watching weather forecasts especially at Jan 1st nears. It promises, though, to be a great day for Chicago, the Blackhawks, the Red Wings and the people of the city. I will see you there.
Is there any news on how well Marty Broduer is recovering? Can the Devils keep this up and be in a position to take the division when he returns?
I must admit I have seen nothing one way or the other regarding his rehab. My impression is that it is too early to speak of rehab and where he is. And everytime I look at the standing I remain agog about where the Devils stand. They have the Rangers in site and are within a few points of Philly and ahead of Pittsburgh and all with a guy who was not good enough stay in Toronto, one of the NHL's worst teams. So much credit to Sutter and Clemmensen. This team has shown, once again, to be made of the right stuff. And it does make you wonder what they are capable of when Brodeur comes back in late March. It is a scary prospect for the rest of the teams in the east.
Now that Sundin has signed, how long before the big names on the trade front begin to move?
I think once the roster freeze ends on Dec. 27 there might be some movement. Burke has made no secret about his desire to make some changes to his roster and he can take on salary if teams need to dump a high-priced player to make another move. So it is possible Burke will do that in Toronto. But players like Gaborik have to prove they are healthy before they can be moved. Jay Bouwmeester has finally come alive and the Panthers are back in the hunt. They will no doubt make a serious bid to re-sign Jay Bouwmeester, and will wait as long as possible before dealing him if that is what they are forced to do. Maybe a guy like Shanahan finds a hoem now that Sundin has signed. But teams are so tight in the standings that I think it will take until the March trade deadline before we see much movement.
Scott.. after the whooping the Wings put on the Sharks - is it safe to say the are again the team to beat. It seems as if they can turn it on and off.
No doubt that was an statement and an impressive on at that, 6-0 in Detroit. That was a big win, and probably a bigger win for Detroit than a lost for San Jose, since the Sharks had already beaten them at home. I think SJ is a little out of rhythm on defense and have not gotten the consistency in goal they may have wanted. I think the Wings needed to make a statement and they did. It is all about perspective with 50 more games to play. But for Detroit it does show that they are still the champs and should not be forgotten and they can bring it. And if they meet in the postseason then that is a game that may stick out for both teams.
Blachhawks are impressive, but even with there 7 game win streak, do you see them adding/trading any pieces like previously talked about in the beginning of the season?
Yes I do. It is always nice for a team to deal from a position of strength. I think it is very possible Nikolai Khabibulin will still be moved before the deadline. As well as he has played, as long as Cristobal Huet can get into a consistent groove, I can see the Hawks moving Khabibulin and bringing in a top-line center. They need beter depth in the middle to compete against Detrit or SJ late in the postseason. So I think that move is very possible. If they can find a top 6 forward, especially a center, they will be in even better shape.
Why have the Blue Jackets not offered Rick Nash a long-term Ovechkin/Leclavier type deal? He is one of the top 5 players in the NHL - and that goes without saying all he has done for the CBJ. He'd be a superstar if played anywhere else.
I do not quibble with most of what you say. He is a great talent and the lone face of the Bluejackets. Doug McClain was roundly criticized when he gave Nash his last contract. I think there are a number of reasons they have not reupped and one is the economics of the game and a team like Columbus has to be careful that they do not cripple themselves going forward. That said, the Jackets will do everything in their power to keep him and will pay him handsomely and pay him term. If I am Rick Nash I would want to make sure this team keeps moving forward as far as drafting and signing good players. They need a top notch center to maximize his value. You mention Brassard, he is their most talented center and now that he is lost for the year, that is a huge setback.
Phil Kessel finely turning into the player they thought he could be when he was drafted? I am guessing we won't see him as a healthy scratch in the playoffs again.
It is a terrific story for as young man who took some time to learn how to be an NHL player. It is not just about showing up with a lot of skill. It is about working and commiting and all those cliches. He had to learn and he sis, the hard way. Nothing like being a healthy scratch as a top prospect. But he has taken the lessons to heart and has been a very big part of the Bruins success. He logs a lot of ice time, scores big goals and plays the way Claude Julien needs him to play...he is responsible on defense. He has 21 goals but is also +15. That is a big turnaround. This is a great story and one Bruins fans are certainly happy is being told.
Jeff Carter, new superstar or just a hot streak?
Good question. Not to take anything away from Jeff Carter, who leads the NHL in goalscoring with 25 goals. Now those are not 25 flashes in the pan. He has become the type of player the Flyers were expecrting him to be when they drafted him 11th overall in 2003. He has taken time to mature. But he is a force at 6'3 200 lbs and has a great shot and release. Yes he is in the zone, but he is meeting expectations now. This did not come out of nowhere, however; he came on at the end of last season and in the playoffs. He is on an ark and the good thing for Flyers fans is that he does not seem he has the type opf game that is prone to long slumps. I think he is one of the reasons why people look at the Flyers as a potential Stanley Cup finalist.
Mr. Burnside- Who's the best center available now that Sundin is gone?
Very good question. I'm trying to think of this off the top of my ahead of guys who could be on the move. Micahel Nylander comes to mind and there were all kinds of rumors about Chicago nabbing him a few weeks ago, but that did not happen. Columbus obviously needs a top center. But the one thing that will make people think twice about him is his contract. He makes $5.5 this year and has $8.5 million left throught 2010-11. So that is a lot of money still owed. Those figures will influence any moves. But off the top of my head, he may be the most talented center that could be had in the NHL. I am also sure Brian Burke will get lots of call for Nik Antropov, who is 6'6 230 lbs and handles the puck very well and scored 26 goals last year. He can become an UFA this summer, so it would not surprise me if Burke would part with him for the right deal of high picks and prospects. Antropov is a player who has some skill, although he also has cosistency and injury problems; but he has skill and would not break the bank. So those are two player off the top of my head.
Is Zach Parise a top 5 player in the NHL now?
Top 5 takes into account a lot of great players. I think that is a stretch, but he has become an elite. He is one of the main reasons the Devils have been able to ride out Brodeur's injury. He is tied for fourth in NHL points, is +12, has many game-winning goals. I think his profile will increase through this year, or a year from now when we talk about the Olympics. Parise and Kane are the two guys who must produce if Team USA wants to contend for a medal. But he is a player who is on fire.
Have a great and safe holiday period. We will touch base a week for now and look ahead to the game in Chicago. Enjoy the season and be well!