Scott will be here soon!
How's it going? Let's go!
Scott the Kings called up Jonathan Bernier cause Ersberg is hurt again. What are your thoughts on Bernier? Can he become this teams true number 1 for years to come?
I think it is too early to tell. I think th Kings have done the right thing with him. He traveled with them, and they made the right call sending him back because the team is not ready to contend for the playoffs. One of the reasons why is because they do not have a No. 1 goaltender. Someone has to step up and assert themselves as the No. 1 guy. It is always safer to be cautious with young goaltenders, because you can do some real harm if you rush them. It will be interesting to see if he gets starts here and how he responds.
What kind of names do you see the Pens looking for at the deadline?
Well I think they solved one of their problems by getting Mathieu Guaron. It is obvious they do not have an elite winger to play with Crosby, the likes of Hossa. But there is no Marion Hossa available at this year's deadline, barring some dramatic move, like Atlanta wanting to move Kovalchuk. So what you see is what you get. Goncher should be back by early March and that should be a huge bonus for the Pens and as long as they can get healthy, they have lost more guys to injury than almost any other team in the NHL, they should get better. But help is not coming from the outside in this case.
Hey Scott- I was watching Sportscenter the other day and I heard Barry Melrose say that Washington will win the East... After watching them beat Boston on Saturday night do you think we could outlast them in a 7 game series?
I think it would be a great mathcup and it could take seven games to decide it. I think the only way the Caps win is if they get the type of goaltending they received from Jose Theodore on Saturday. Now Theodore may give you that performance for a week or 10 days and then disappear for a similar amount of time. So that is always going to be the question, as to whether the Caps are true Cup contenders.
One of the hottest teams in the NHL seems to be the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they are finally getting healthy. What is your outlook for them in the second half of the season?
We talk about Wahsington a question marks in net, and there are none when it comes to Columbus in the net. It is all Steve Mason all the time. If he is not a lock for ROY, then he is the odds on favorite, as long as he stays healthy. He has provided what LeClaire could not earlier in the season. He leads the NHL in GAA, he is second in Save%, and it is a cliche but he gives them a chance to win every night. And now you have Rick Nash back and they picked up Jason Williams, someone who can help boost the Jackets power play, and so they keep hanging around. As we speak they are about 1 point out of the last playoff spot in the West. Honestly, I do not think they have enough to be there in the end, but they are probably closer than many people expected at this point in the season.
Buffalo's gotten the better of Boston this season. If the Sabres make the playoffs, how do you feel about that matchup as a first round upset?
I do not like it a lot, although you are right the Sabres have played a lot better. They have pretty good balance up front now and their defense is okay, even without Numminen for the balance of the season, which still creates a problem. I know people question if Tim Thomas is for real in the Boston net, but I wonder if Ryan Miller can deliver the goods as well. I would be shocked if they were able to pull off an upset over the Bruins if the series were to happen.
How about that game in Boston today? I know their record is nothing special, but I think the St. Louis Blues may be the most underrated team in the NHL. They've been killed by injuries this year, but their young guys have stepped in and been very impressive. Do you agree this will be a playoff team in the next year or two?
I do agree that the Blues have a very impressive cast of top-end young players. I am not sure about their long-term goaltending. But they have great young defensemen, who do give Blues fans something to be optimistic about. If they cannot avoid the injuries they suffered this year, I think it is possible. I think certainly in the next two years they should be in the playoff hunt.
What's the outlook for the Blackhawks now that they seem to be slowing down a bit? (Especially if Keith's head injury becomes a lingering issue.)
It is true, they have not been winning at the pace they had been in the first half, but that is to be expected over 82 games, the dips and wobbles. The Hawks have been able to stop the bleeding this season when they hit a rough patch, which they have not been able to do in the past. It would be a huge collapse to see them miss the playoffs. I think they are weel positioned to have home ice to start the playoffs. Injuries are always a concern, but I think this is a team that is well positioned to win at least one playoff round.
Do you see Boston's young players struggling to adapt come playoff time or will they be able to overcome their lack of experience?
A lot of them got a taste last year in the seven game first round loss to Montreal. Under Claude Julien, they play a type of ongoing playoff system anyway, which is very physical with a focus on defense. I think the concerns about the playoffs revolve around injury and whether the goaltending can stand up, which I think it can. I do not see their youth being a huge issue for them in the playoffs.
Any thoughts on Sharks vs. Wings game last Saturday as well as the return of Claude?
Let's start with Claude, the acient one, Claude Lemieux looks to be set to join the Sharks in their next game, Tuesday. I cannot imagine his role will amount to anything and I am not even sure he will remain with the team through the season. But what a great game between two top clubs. I know neither of the coaches were happy with the defense, given the 6-5 scoreline, but what a great treat for the fans, and what a treat it would be if it were a Western Conference final matchup.
As a Wings fan I'm starting to feel my blood boil a little when I think about the Sharks. Do you sense a growing rivalry between Detroit and San Jose after last Saturday's game and now the arrival of Claude Lemieux to the Shark's starting roster?
I never thought of it that way, Lemieux maybe the most hated man for Wings fan. Maybe there is a method to the madness there. Maybe that is what they were after. Noit just grit, but grit that may have tetth to it around playoff time if they meet. Now that is a long way away for a guy who has not played since before the lockout. And you are right about the rivalry. What made Colorado-Detroit so great was that both teams, each year in the 90s looked like serious Cup contenders and now you have the same thing happening with Detroit and SJ.
What are your thoughts on the Ducks? Is it time to rebuild or do you think they have what it takes to beat the Sharks and Wings in the playoffs?
That is the problem with the NHL is that you cannot just rebuild right away. It takes time. I know the Ducks are ina bit of a swoon, but they are very much a playoff team. The emergence of Bobby Ryan has answered some of their questions from a year ago when they had problems scoring. And Teemu Selanne's return will make things much easier for them as far as putting together a balanced lineup. They still take too many penalties, which is a problem and will be a problem in the playoffs, if they get beyond the first round and have to play Detroit or SJ, who will eat you alive if you give them penalties. But they are not that different from the team that won the Cup a few years ago.
wat is your assessment of the Montreal Canadiens so far, in partcular their young players (Kostitsyn, Latendresse, Lapierre, Pacioretty, D'Agostini)?
I think they are very impressive in large part because of tyhe young guys you mention. Alex Kovalev, the acting captain, has seen his production fall off, Alex Tonquay as has Saku Koivu, and yet this is a team that is rolling right along, winners of eight of their last ten with a very solid road record and great at home. Another injured player is Carey Price, so the fact that they keep scoring points is a good sign for them. They will be able to count on or turn to younger players in the playoffs if they have to and those players will have some experience; and that is crucial for a team that is expected to make a little run in the playoffs. I still think there may be a move or two to be made before the deadline; LeCavallier may look good in the red, white and blue.
Why is everyone down on the Rangers because they win a lot in the shootout when the Flyers creep up the standings with all their overtime losses? It seems a little unjustified to me.
I think the misconception is when you win a shootout that the extra point is tainted, or that it does not reflect if the team is playing well. Dallas, a few years ago, accumulated a lot of points that way and then did nothing in the playoffs. The rangers may fall into that category. They have scored the same amount of goals as they have given up. Elite teams do not find themselves in that position. Id Philly any more deserving? Argue amongst yourselves. But I think that is where it comes from. But if the Rangers get the third seed, they will make apologies to no one, and they may very well open up, at home against the Flyers.
Did the wings/sharks game prove anything?
I think it did. I think it proves that with the Wings pushing the Sharks, with a chance to overtake SJ for the top spot in the West, the Sharks held their ground. Yes, it was a close game, but it showed that the Wings were not going into SJ and taking the top spot from the Sharks. And with three games played, the home team has won all three. So the serve goes back to the Wings and now there is more pressure on them to win that game at home, because barring an upset these two will meet in the Western Final and these games provide the base of knowledge as they move forward. Right now it means something and right now it means that the Sharks have a 3 point lead...and the home team, if these two were to meet, would enjoy a huge advantage is a postseason series.
Did you see Randy Carlyle change all 4 lines for the Ducks against the Wild? Do you see him doing that as just a quick fix for one game or something he will try for 5-10 games?
For a team that is in a bit of a wobble, and only 10-9-2 away from home, these kinds of things can serve a bunch of different purproses. It is a wake up call to certain players and gives other players a chance to play different roles, working on the PP or working with players they may not have a chance to play with. And you are trying to catch lighting in a bottle. If it works, great if not you go back to what worked earlier. Carlyle is not afraid to make changes and give ice time to players who work hard. It will be interesting to see how the Ducks respond because right now they are struggling.
Heard a rumor that the Islanders are moving. What do you think?
Well the question is if they moved, would anyone notice. It is too bad. One of the great dynasties in NHL history is playing in a horrible arena, with little hope for change unless the local political structure changes. A project that would see the Isles in a new home or an improved home seems always in limbo and at some point that will lead to the sale of the team and the possible movement of the team to a place like Kansas City or another city looking for a team. At some point Charles Wang will move the team himself, or sell it to someone who will. And maybe in the end that will be the best thing for all parties when you consider to poor state of the franchise.
Scott, A lot of talk these days about Ovechkin and Crosby. I feel that OV is a much better all around player, scoring, passing, hitting, Power Play, Penalty Kill. What is your take?
I think that right now Ovechkin is the most dynamic player in the NHL and the player the vast majority of GMs would take if they had to take one guy around whom to build a franchise. But they are so different it is hard to compare them. Look at Crosby leading his team to a huge win over NY off an injury and the excitement factor with Ovechkin is much different. Until Alex can produce in the playoffs, I think you have to hold judgement before annointing one player over the other.
Do you think the hurricanes will make a trade anytime soon?
When you are a team in 10th place in the East you have to deciude if you are a buyer or a seller. Goalscoring for them is way down. They have scored fewer goals than any of the teams that curently sit ahead of them. Now scorers do not grow on trees and there are even fewer who are in Carolina's price range. The answer must come from within and I do not think there is enough in that dressing room to get them over the hump.
Thanks again for the questions and we will do it again next week!