We've got Scott!
Do you think the Capitals have a shot at winning the Cup this year? They are playing well and have been playing well with key injuries. I feel like people are 'just now' recognizing them.
Your last point is an important one. I think that teams that battle through adversity and still maintain momentum, we saw this with Pittsburgh last year, those are the teams that learn how to win. The Caps are one of those teams this year. They may be more battle tested come playoff time. I still think the Capitals will have to get better consistent goaltending from Jose Theodore if they are really going to be considered Cup contender.
If it came down to a potential Game 7 situation who would the Bruins go with...Thomas or Fernandez
Tim Thomas. I wouldn't even hesitate. That's not to take anything away from Manny Fernandez, who's been more than a revelation this season. But I think Thomas has established himself as a top flight goalie.
do you think that the blues will make the playoff cut??
This year or next year? The simple answer is no. Too beat up. Too young. I understand they're only eight points from the last playoff berth, but they're 15th in the standings. That's too much real estate to make up. But for the fans, they can't possibly be as unlucky next year as this year.
What can the Penguins do to get out of this slump?
It's an interesting story. As we speak, the Penguins are in ninth place. They've scored only one more goal than they've allowed this year. They're just not playing well. The temptation will be for Shero to make a trade to change the dressing room or the dynamics. But I will be surprised if that happens. He's a smart guy. He understands that there is a lot of talent in that dressing room. He understands they've had some injuries. People forget how young this team is and how much they accomplished last year. I think it would be shocking if they didn't win the playoffs. No doubt it would be shocking for the Penguins if they don't make the playoffs. I assume they will bounce back. It is interesting to watch the frustration. We've seen that in Sidney Crosby in the penalties he's taking and the fight the other night. But I would imagine this is a team that rides it out.
ANY TRUTH TO THE JORDAN STAAL RUMORS OUT THEIR?
I would say no. Ray Shero made it quite clear at the trade deadling last year when Staal's name came out that he's too good of a player, too young to consider trading. He's got all the skills, plays center, terrific penalty killer and great upside. No, don't see it happening.
How good do the Devils look once the Greatest Goalie Ever gets back?
Are the Devils thinking about signing Patrick Roy? Seriously, though, your point is well taken. Clemmsen has been dynamite. Who would have imagined that Brodeur out long term that the Devils would be challenging for the Atlantic Division lead. It's a testament to Brent Sutter's coaching and the character of that team. THey have overcome arguably the single most devastating injury to any team this season. So, the answer to the question then is when Brodeur comes back, the Devils play gives them the luxury of not having to rush him back. And I think Brodeur's play in the playoffs since the lockout has fallen, because of his large workload. But I don't think that will be a factor this year.
What were your thoughts on the Winter Classic? Any possibility Toronto could host a similar event? After all, we ARE the mecca of hockey.
Yes, and aren't we reminded of that point every single day. I thought the Winter Classic was a terrific event. Having been at both efforts the last two years, I thought the NHL did a great job of creating more buzz this year. Being in Chicago and at Wrigley, it added to the festive element of the game. I thought the game itself was exponentially more entertaining and more like real NHL hockey. Commissioner joked that the ice outdoors at Wrigley was better than some of the indoor arenas. Sad, but true. I think it will be 5-6 years before one of these events comes to Toronto. Mecca or not. Birthplace or not, the US is the place where it needs to be. I expect these events to be US based for the forseeable future.
When looking at other top young players like Kane, Toews and even teammate Boedker, Kyle Turris isn't living up to the hype. Is he a bust or does he just need a lot more development?
I think it's way too early to suggest that Kyle Turris is a bust. He is still very much a boy. I had the chance to talk to Wayne Gretzky in Dallas. He talked about Turris and people forget that he played one year at the University of Wisconsin but played two years of Tier II Junior A. He comes through a different route than a lot of the rookies at the top of the scoring list this year. His maturing process is going to take longer, that's just the way it is. He's still got tons of skill. He's playing on a Phoenix team that's very young. He's learning along with them. I think it's too early to make those kinds of comparisons or to suggest that he's failing as a young prospect.
Have they decided where the Winter classic is next year? I think The Shoe in Columbus (where Ohio State plays football), would be an awesome choice. They could get over 100,000 fans there to watch a game!
There is a lot of discussion about where next year's Winter Classic might be. There's talk about Pittsburgh-Philadelphia in a cross state game. I would be surprised if they went back to the Penguins this early in the going. Sometimes it would just be the venue that would be attractive. I think they will try to continue to draw on tradition in terms of the matchups. I think you'd have to look at the Rangers, Boston, Minnesota, the Avalanche. Teams that might create more compelling story lines. That might push a team and a city like Columbus down the list.
Is Brodeur still on tracking for a Feb. return?
I probably haven't been as diligent as I should have been about staying on top of his rehab, but all indications are that late February, early March is the timeline the Devils are looking back. I think it's a month to five weeks before the start of the postseason, which this year is April 12. Nothing to suggest anything different than that. It's a loose, longterm timeline.
I always felt Montreal and it's 26 cups were more of the Mecca of hockey. How long does a championship drought have to be before a city is no longer considered a "Mecca"?
That's a fair question. Sometimes Mecca is in the eye of the beholder. Having lived and worked in Toronto, covering the Leafs, sometimes the view doesn't go any further than the walls of the Centre or the local sports call in show.
scott, do you think the stars can make it all the way despite their season controversies.
It's not just a controversy, it's the injuries that have compounded the bad press from the Avery saga. They have climbed out of a big hole, but they are up to 11th in the West and just 2 points out of the playoffs. They're still battling crippling injuries. Morrow and Zubov are gone for the season. Right now they're missing Fabian and a number of other players. It's going to be an uphill battle the rest of the way. It's a veteran team, they still have a ton of talent. I don't think they'd be long for the playoffs, unless there's a miracle return for some of their players.
I have no doubt the Blackhawks will make the playoff's my question is how far do you think they will go?
That's a great question. As long as they can avoid Detroit, the sky is the limit. Some troubling issues, Kane is now out with a high ankle sprain. That's problematic, because you never know how long it will take to recover. If he returns before the end of the season and comes back 100% or close to it, then the Hawks could go at least to the second round. I think it's a stretch to see them going to a conference final, because that would mean beating Detroit or San Jose in the second round. I don't think they're ready for that.
Kings - Ducks on the Beach: how would that be for the winter classic?
Well, I'm all for the beach. No doubt about that. There was some discussion at the Winter Classic about just how far South, or in case of your question South and West, could you do these games. What about San Jose-LA? Sharks have a terrific fan base. Lots of history with the Kings. I think for the next few years they'll stay in true winter markets, to build the brand. I think there's risk with the games, but I think there's greater risk with the climate.
How is Alex Ovechkin not a starter in ther All Star Game? He's the best player in the world!
Yeah, he probably is the best player in the world right now. THat just goes to tell you that fans with computers might not know everything there is to know about hockey. That's the deal, not just in the NHL, but any sport where fans vote in players for an All-Star competition. It's such a non-story. Ovechkin will play in the game. It doesn't have anything to do with anything, the fact that he wasn't named as a starter.
With respect to Montreal... Everybody knows Toronto is the "Hockey Mecca." And Detroit is "Hockey Town." Not sure what that makes Montreal.
caps/wings..stanley cup..caps in 6
That's pretty bold. The Wings look good. Although, I think San Jose will have something to say about that. If you're looking at San Jose-Detroit and a Boston-Washington final in the East, that's a pretty good matchups to see if your prediction comes true. But the Caps goaltending could trip them up, but if Theodore gets on a roll for 3-4 weeks, you may be right.
What do you think the Wild's chances are of making the playoffs this year?
They should make the playoffs. They're a good, well coached team. But as you well know, they simply don't score enough to be considered a playoff threat. Earlier this season, they were getting good balanced scoring, even though Gaborik was hurt. Now he's out again and will be recovering from hip surgery until well after the trade deadline. The Wild will have to continue to eek out victories. Unless they're able to find offensive help at the trade deadline, that's the reality for the Wild. If they sneak into the 7-8 seed, they will be waxed by San Jose or Detroit. That too is the reality of their situation.
Fenway Park: Montreal vs. Boston OR New York vs. Boston. These would be great matchups in solid original six markets. Your thoughts?
Love it. I love the idea of Fenway. My impression is that there are some issues with getting into Fenway during baseball's offseason the next couple of years due to construction or renovation issues. At least that was the buzz in Chicago this last week. But there's no doubt that Fenway is in the NHL's wish list. It's one of few parks that rival Wrigley in terms of history. You mentioned the Rangers, I would be surprised if they don't make a run at the new Yankee Stadium. I could see the Rangers at home in the New Yankee STadium is something that could happen in the next year or two.
How bad are the Pens wishing they would have matched Ty Conklin's contract with Detroit? (Sorry, I laughed when I asked that question!)
It's an excellent question. It was a year ago right now that Ty Conklin was in the midst of saving the Penguins season, playing his brains out with Marc-Andre Fleury out. If the Penguins were to start the playoffs today, I would say he would start for them, if he were still there. I imagine there are still days when the Penguins pine for the days when they looked down the bench and saw Conklin sitting there in a Penguins jersey.
Will the sabres ever win 3 games in a row or more to make a good stand for the playoffs?
That's really been the issue the last couple of years for Buffalo is consistency. They're in the 8th place and the final playoff spot for the East right now. But they're 5-3-2 over the last 10 games. It wouldn't be surprising if we talked next Monday and they're a point or two out of hte playoffs. They just can't get on a roll like they did the first year or two after the lockout. Offensively they're not scoring enough to pile up the points like in the past. That's a mark of a team on the playoff bubble.
Would the NHL ever have the All-Star game as the Winter Classic
No. And I think because people wouldn't respond to it in the way they do with the current setup. The fans want to see a real game and the all-star game is anything but. No one wants to get hurt. We don't want anyone to get hurt at it. It's an exhibition. It's all about corporate sponsorhip and schmoozing and has little to do with the game itself. The Winter Classic is compelling because it's a real game that's played outdoors. We saw how the Hawks and Wings went at each other.
How does Rangers assistant coach Perry Pearn still have a job? His power play is absolutely atrocious and they lead the league in short handed goals given up.
Is that a coaching issue or an execution issue? Maybe a little of both. And you don't see assistant coaches fired in the middle of the season. That's not the NHL's pattern. And if you look at the lineup, there's no reason for them to be that bad in the power play. I think they've tried different things on the power play. That might be why they have given up the short handed goals - players trying new things or trying too hard. They can't seem to find a rhythm. Montreal has been dynamite the last couple of years on the power play. This year? Ah, not so much. It will be interesting to see in the second half if the Rangers can find that kind of rebound in their power play play.
How long is Patrick Kane out? I thought he was due back any day.
I don't think anyone really knows. You can use comparisons. Players like Brian Rolfson and Sidney Crosby a year ago. If you started with 20 games and went from there, depending on the severity, that would be a complete ballpark guess. The short answer is that high ankle sprains are never good. You hear it said that it would be better in some cases to have a broken bone then a high ankle sprain.
Will Phoenix make the playoffs this season? Next?
Well, the way the Coyotes have been playing, I think the expectation is now. They sit in 7th place, 2 points out of 6th. They're in that group of about 6-7 teams that could go either way. If there's concern it's the youthfulness. Bryzgalov seems to have rebounded after a miserable start to the season. But they're a team that will have to get better offensively if they're going to stay in the playoffs. Right now they have given up 10 more goals then they have scored. That pattern would keep them out of the playoffs. If their young players can continue to learn on the go and get more production, maybe their playoff arrival is a year or two ahead of schedule -- next April.
Any word on Shanahan? Did the Pens work him out?
I don't know that. I know that he has been working out with an eye to getting back into NHL action, perhaps by the end of the month. Again, I think it's about finding the comfort zone in terms of geography and cap room. He doesn't want to be too far from his family in New York. That gets rid of Western Conference teams. Then there's the question, does Philly have room for him? Are the Rangers an option? Probably not, but as they continue to struggle, perhaps they revisit it. I expect him to be back by the end of the month, I'm just not sure where yet.
Scott, How good has Bobby Ryan been? Other than Getzlaf, he has been the lone bright spot as of late, is there any chance he could win the Calder or does Mason have it locked up?
This is the kind of story that all teams can see reflected in their own teams. A young prospect sent to the minors who gets a chance and thrives. He was the second player selected after Crosby in the '05 draft. He's been slow to develop. But they need more scoring. Ryan is under significant pressure to produce. Teemu Selanne is out with injuries, so the Ducks need production out of a talented young player. Not just to keep in the playoff mix, but long term. This spring and playoffs.
The Canes have been playing pretty well since Maurice was brought in, and are 7-3 in their last 10. The only problem is, the Caps keep winning too. Do you see the Canes making the playoffs?
You're right. The Capitals have opened up what I think is an insurmountable lead in the South. They're 10 points behind. I don't see any team making up 10 points. That means Carolina is going to have to qualify in one of the bottom 5 playoff spots. Cam Ward is playing well, but that's been the problem the last couple of years when they didn't make the playoffs -- they haven't had the goaltending. They seem to be struggling with the injuries. But they're getting healthy now. The goaltending, if it remains consistent, should see them into the playoffs.
Will Florida trade Bouwmeester and/or Vokoun as I think they are both a distraction to the team? Can they finally make the playoffs this year?
As usual, there are periods where they look like a young team that's ready to take the next step and then they look like junk for a month. A poorly run team. Right now they're just three points out of the playoffs. They had a terrific month in December and made up some ground. But then they're 3-5-3 in their last games. But I don't see anything to suggest their play in the second half will be any different. I don't trade Vokoun. And as for Bouwmeester, GM Martin should be able to get a terrific package for him. But the question will be if they trade Bouwmeester, what can they get in return. Pittsburgh did it last year for Hossa and it worked out well. Will a team give up a lot for a player who might walk come July 1? I don't know, but the number of teams in that category has to be small. But that has to be better than the alternative of watching him walk away on July 1 for nothing.
Thanks again for taking the time. We'll do it again next week!