Scott will be here soon!
Happy Monday. Let's roll!
what do you think of the recent surge of the kings? with quick, kopitar, doughty, brown, frolov & co., can this team make the playoffs?
They are like that knight in the Holy Grail, you keep cutting off limbs and they keep coming. They have shown a lot. They remind me a little of Pittsburgh two years ago, when nothing was expected and they made the playoffs. It may be too much to ask this Kings team to be a playoff team, but the good thing for them though, apart from winning three straight, is they are only three points out from a playoff spot. Yes, they need to jump three teams, but they have two games in hand on the teams in 9th and 10th and they have a game in hand against the 8th team, Vancouver. The goaltending is still a work in progress. Jonathan Quick has been a star of the week, but there is still a lot of hockey to be played an I am not sure they have enough to be there in the end. Big picture, I cannot think of anything better for the league's overall health than to have the Kings back in the playoffs. LA is a big market, and to see the Kings really start to get it is good news for not only the Kings and their fans, but the NHL as well.
Scott, do you thinks teams out West should be worried that despite the fact they have been pretty bad defensively, the Wings are still 2nd in the Western Conference and within shouting distance of 1st?
Yes, if you are a team that aspires to a deep playoff run, I think the Wings are an interesting study. It is a cliche, but it is so hard for a defending champ to find the emotional level needed to play the regular season with the right amount of intensity after winning the Cup. Babcock has said that his players have at times found it hard to find enough will to play at a certain level and that has to do with their defense and their problems. They are dynamic on offense and ordinary on defense. Come playoff time, yes you cannot turn on a switch, but they have been there and know how to win in the postseason. You see it in a game, yesterday, where they shutdown Pittsburgh. That was a message to the league and SJ that they are not going to go away easily. Can Vancouver or Edmonton beat them in the fist round? No. Whatever problems the Wings have, it is not going to be easy for anyone facing them in the spring.
The NY Rangers! Do you think they are a playoff ready team and do you think Avery possibly coming back would help them any?
He is such an interesting character, and I use the term character liberally. I thought he was a good fit for Dallas because of the edge he brought and the mix of offensive skill and belligerence...and that turned to dirt. It was a mistake by Brett Hull to bring him to Dallas and it almost destroyed their season. The Stars are a playoff team now, and when he left the team they were among the NHL's worst. That said, I think he works in NY. The Rangers' record with Avery in the lineup is far better than when he's not there. The Rangers miss Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan, two strong personalities. If Avery returns to the Rangers in the coming weeks, does it make a bad situation worse, or does it rally the team. Interesting question and I do think we will get the answer to that question.
What do yu think the Sabres chances are of making the playoffs without Vanek for the next month?
That is an interesting question and a terrible loss for the Sabres. They are 6-3-1 in their last ten and have looked like the Sabres of 2006-07. Vanek is the straw that stirs the offensive drink. He is a pure goalscorer. There is no understating his loss. But I think the Sabres are developing the chemistry and group mentality that was missing last year, as a result of the many departures, including the loss of Drury and Briere. I do not see them dropping. The good news for them is that there are a lot of teams in the middle of the pile that are struggling, including the Rangers, Canadiens, and even the Flyers are not playing well. It will be an interesting test for the Sabres. We'll see what they are made of.
I was listening to Rob Ray the other day during a Sabres game and he said that he thought fighting was necessary as a way for players to police themselves. Do you think that players need to police themselves or do you think that the NHL should review games and give HARSH suspensions for cheap shots. Even if a referee missed a call the league could still review and suspend.
I am not sure I buy the whole fighting as deterrent idea. I think the idea of two giant men agreeing to fight in the faceoff circle is ridiculous. Not sure what it polices or proves. I do understand that if your star is being mauled, it behooves the star player's team to respond. If that means coming to his defense in a fight or physically trying to intimidate the star player on the other team, so be it. But I think back to Georges Laraque, when he arrived in Pittsburgh, everyone said he would protect Crosby. As it turned out he was on the ice for three minutes a night and could not keep the pace. There are very few fights come playoff time, when the games mean everything. But you mention tape review, and that is also sadly lacking. I think it is way too much for one person, Colin Campbell, to be the lone judge. I think it is too much for one person. I think the NHL needs to rethink how it hands out discipline. I do agree that the NHL should come down hard on players for a cheap shot. But that does not happen often now. Denis Gauthier of the Kings threw a vicious elbow to the head of Josh Georges, and received a 5 game ban. Which is the same as avery got for his comments. The NHL says it is trying to cutback on blows to the head, but to me those actions are a 10-15 game ban.
How does the goal-tending situation in Anaheim work out? This season and next?
Great question. J.S. Giguere has struggled and has had some off-ice issues. And Jonas Hiller has proven to be a more than capable back up. But I think you cannot forget that Giguere has established himself as one of the greatest playoff goaltender's of his generation. His OT record is unreal and he won a Conn Smythe trophy in 2003, took the Ducks to a conferecne final in 2006, won a Cup in 2007. The guy can bring it come playoff time; it would not surprise me to see both men out there. Giguere will be there come April.
what do you think of the capitals chance to go far into the playoffs, and how far do you think they you can go?
Some nights it looks like the sky is the limit for the team. I think there is one major question mark, that will dog them through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Is their goaltending playoff worthy? Jose Theodore has shown, especially in the last months, that he is finding his game, and last year in the first round we saw that he can play out of his mind, the guy who won the Hart and the Vezina in 2002. But, until he can do that through playoff rounds, I think the jury will be out. Because beyond the goaltending, I think Wasdhington is the best team in the East, no big revelation, but Boston and Washington are head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. There is no reason the Caps should not go to the Eastern Conference final and face Boston. Anything less than that would be a disappointment. That is how good I think this team is.
Scott, in your "5 things" column you state that it would be great for West Coast hockey if LA Kings made the playoffs, and I agree with that. But I think it would be better if the Ducks make it in also. The 2 teams have never both made the playoffs in the same season, much less played each other, so that would be awesome if they could play a series against each other. What do you think?
I agree. It would be very cool. Looking at the standings, it probably won't happen this year, the Ducks-Kings matchup that is. But I agree. Obviously the Ducks winning the Cup was huge for California hockey, not just the Ducks. But it put pressure on the Kings to hold up their end of the bargain and stop being an afterthought in Cali. I could not agree more, with SJ's wild success and then have all three of the Cali teams competing in the postseason would be great for raising the profile of the game in an important part of the country. I would be quite an achievement if all three made the postseason.
How do you see the flames situation shaping up in the next few weeks? They seem to have a stout offense but their defense leaves something to be desired? Daryl Sutter has gone on to say that players in their system are better than what would be available, do you agree? Jay Bouwmeester possibly?
I think with the way the Flames are built adding another big ticket defeseman like Jay Bouwmeester is unlikely. If there is an issue of the Flames it is offensive depth. I think they will look to bolster the offense in the offseason. I think Bouwmeester is a luxury who will be gone after by teams with bigger defesnive needs than the Falmes have.
What do you think the chances are of Scotty Niedermayer finishing his career with the Devils this season?
I know the Devils are getting the old gang back together with Rolston, Holik and Shanahan, back where he started 150 years ago...but no, I think that is a long shot that Niedermayer goes anywhere. This guys spent half of last season wondering if he wanted to play at all. The Ducks are a playoff team and he is not going anywhere, as much as the band would like him back in New Jersey.
Give it to me straight, do the Pens make the playoffs?
Well, I am so selfish in my belief that they will. With all due respect to Carolina and Florida, I think the playoff storylines are much richer with the Pens in the tournament. I'd like to think of Washington and Pittsburgh in the first round. But they are not making it easy. They need to get in a groove and I think they will. The very presence of Malkin, Crosby and the return of Gonchar suggest they are a playoff team. Now they have to go make it happen.
ok, who you got tomorrow bruins or sharks?
Good one. I say Bruins at home. They are 19-3-4. It's too bad Marco Sturm is hurt, or I would pick him to win it in a shootout.
Do you think the Rangers will fire Tom Renney before the season ends, especially if this losing streak continues?
I think probably for the first time since he took over as coach, in Feb. 2004, Tom Renney's job is less than secure. Call me a traditionalist, but I am always slightly angered when teams start to go sideways and the first idea is to fire the coach. Renney has worked mild miracles with this team. He had to coach Sean Avery and had success while he was there, so he deserves some room. He took a team no one though would make the playoffs in 2006 and did so. They have won a round each of the last two years. This is not a pleasant team to watch right now, and maybe that has to do with the coaching, but it is also a team that has been poorly constructed as well. Will he last the year? I do not know. Things are hot in NY. Does he deserve to get fired? No.
With Brodeur 2 weeks from returning -- is there a market for Clemmensen or Weekes?
Interesting. Maybe we've seen a bit of a wobble from Clemmensen recently, and Weekes played well against Atlanta. Together they have done a good job. And Clemmensen has been this year's Conklin in terms of saving the season. But I am not sure what you do in terms of trying to trade either Weekes or Clemmensen. It will get tough as soon as Brodeur comes back. But there are question marks about what will happen when Marty comes back. This is his first serious injury and we need to see how he responds. Look at how Luongo reacted after coming back from his injury. I think they will stick around even if it does get a little crowded.
Is MacTavish in trouble Scott? Will he ever be? I hadn't settled in Saturday before it was 5-0 against the Wings. I've never seen a goalie hung out to dry as much as Roloson was that day
MacTavish is an interesting situation. People point to the fact that he has been there since June 2000, which suggests maybe players are tired of his approach. But these are very young players, so I do not think the argument holds water. He took the Oilers to a Cup final in 2006, so he can coach. There is something wrong with this team, however. Because when they go diseways, they go all the way. They can get pounded. They seem to have little in terms of resolve. If they get behind, theya re out of it. Is that a coaching issue, or the fact that these young players have not learned how to win. But the team should be better. I still think they are a playoff team, but lots of nights they do not show it. But I do not see a coaching move being made during the season.
Do the Blues with Mason in net make the playoffs?
If they has Steve Mason, maybe. But, and no direspect to Chris Mason, no. I give them all the credit in the world, having gone 6-1-3, but they are dead last in the West with 30 games left and seven teams to climb over. It is just not going to happen. They would need to go 23-7, or there abouts to make the playoffs, and I do not think they have that run in them. Lets have this conversation next year, because if they can avoid the big injuries, this is a team that should be in the playoff hunt a year from now.
Thanks again for taking the time. Next Monday we will chat from Tampa. Questions poolside.