Greetings and salutations hockey people. Let's rock.
Parise or Ovechkin for MVP? When you discount the goalies and defesmen who have their own awards, doesn't it really come down to one of them? They both score BIG goals for their teams and you have to wonder where their teams would be without them. Malk8in & Crosby have points but they give out assistsa like candy in the NHL. My choice would be Parise because he more of a complete player than Ovechkin. He forechecks, backchecks and kills penalties better than anyone in his class of scoreres. He is a complete player quite Frankly.
Peter this is a great question and strikes at the heart of what the Hart Trophy is. Is it for the best player in the league (for my money Evgeni Malkin, but I digress) or, as the wording states, most valuable to his team? And you're right, hard to find a player who has been more valuable to his team than Parise who has quickly elevated himself to star status. That said the voting usually falls somewhere between the exact wording and straight point totals. My guess is Parise makes the final ballot with Malkin and Ovechkin but Ovechkin's flash and dash (and 50-something goals) carries the day.
Do you think that the Sens can squeak in the playoffs?
No. Great run, though. Their schedule down the stretch is too heavily weighted to road games.
Scott, What do you think #1-8 will look in the east by the end of the season?
Tyler, I'm guessing Boston/Montreal. Don't think the Panthers or Sabres can sieze the moment and don't think the Habs have any juice left to jump up from the 8th seed. Still, pretty darned good match-up wouldn't you say?
Do you think the Hurricanes can do some real damage in the playoffs this year? Since getting Cole back, they have been on a tear!
Love the way the 'Canes have come alive. The RBC Center has been rocking and it's good to have the Caniacs back in the post-season after a two-year absence. It's possible the 'Canes could actually end up jumping over Pittsburgh into the 5th seed but let's say they end up in 6th and play Washington that would be a terrific series. Not prepared to suggest an upset but Cam Ward is back to Conn Smythe form and the top guys, Staal, Brind'Amour, Whitney and Cole are all clicking. Should be fun.
The Lighting talked to the media after the game about how they didnt like Ovechkins celebration and how he should pay for it. Why didnt they do it during the game? He did score in the first period.
Excellent question Danny. I wasn't a big fan of the celebration, a little bit too much T.O. for my liking but then I'm a bit of a fuddy duddy that way. Still, don't complain about it after, take a shot if it bugs you that much. The Lightning didn't and I'm afraid that tells you a lot about why they are where they are in the standings.
Hey, Scott! Kimmo Timonen and Ryan Parent have been playing great together recently. Is there a defensive tandum playing better right now? Does their play rub off on the remaining pairs? The Flyers played a great defensive game yesterday, holding Malkin and Crosby to no shots.
A lot of the talk at the trade deadline was about the Flyers' attempts to shore up their blue line; Derek Morris and Jay Bouwmeester to name two; but I like the way the Flyers play. Big fan of Kimmo Tmonen and Ryan Parent's development goes a long way to taking some of the pressure off their other young gun on the blue line, Braydon Coburn. Thinking it might be an all-Pennsylvania match-up in the first round and that would be a terrific tilt. If so it will be interesting to see how a healthy Flyers team might match up against the Pens.
Scott, what game are you looking forward most too this week?
There are a couple, actually, including a Tampa/Washington tilt just in case the Bolts are really still annoyed with Ovechkin. But how about Anaheim at Nashville Tuesday, my guess is the winner gets in and the loser stays home come playoff time.
Hejda and Commodore-one of the most underrated defensive pairings in the whole nhl?
Big Mike Commodore fan and Jan Hejda was one of those quiet surprises a year ago and has continued to impress in what has been a landmark year for the Blue Jackets (not to put the heebie jeebies on them with three weeks to go). Interesting to see how much attention they get in the playoffs especially if they end up trying to shut down Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri and Olli Jokinen of the Flames in the first round.
should drew doughty get serious calder consideration?
Craig, there is more than a little sentiment for Doughty to be at least among the top three among the season's top rookies. My guess is Pekka Rinne and Steve Mason will be automatic given their numbers in Nashville and Columbus respectively and that Doughty and likely Bobby Ryan will fight it out for the third spot on the ballot. Have to figure Mason looks like he'll take home the hardware, though, and he's full value for it.
Who do you think gets the Jack Adams Award this year?
This will be a great race. Barry Trotz and Ken Hitchcock will get lots of notice if both Nashville and Columbus end up in the playoffs. Claude Julien has changed the culture in Boston and they're for real. I think, though, Brent Sutter's handling of the New Jersey Devils without Martin Brodeur for most of the season will earn him the trophy.
hey scott, think the sabres still have a shot at the playoffs? even tho they've struggled lately, they still have game remaining against florida, montreal and carolina, and miller actually got his first full practice in since being out...
My initial reaction having seen them stumble over the past week is to say stick a fork in them, they're done. But the Sabres have been helped immeasurably by the equally inept Montreal Canadiens. Figure the Sabres to have to go no worse than 7-3 down the stretch and win all of those head to heads you noted to make it happen.
Is the Selke going back to Detroit this year with Pavel Datsyuk? He may not get MVP consideration, but you can't tell me there's a better two way forward out there.
I am guessing yes. You can certainly make an argument for him as MVP but like Malkin and to a lesser extent Ovechkin Datsyuk gets hurt because he plays on such a star-studded team. But you are right on when you suggest there are few players who are better in all three zones.
scott, the atlantic division had 4 of 5 teams in the playoffs last year and is poised to repeat this time around. is it the best division in hockey?
If it's not the best it's certainly one with some of the most compelling storylines and that's going to continue into the post-season when it's possible you'll see two Atlantic match-ups (New Jersey/Rangers and Pittsburgh/Philly). That said, you have to look at the Central and the distance it's traveled in terms of competitiveness. If the Blues catch a break down the stretch it's possible all five teams could qualify for the post-season. Not likely but pretty interesting if it happens.
I've seen some "all rookie" teams or "top rookies from 08-09 you'd want in 10 years", and none of them have had Kyle Okposo on it. He started the season slow, but he's been averaging over a point per game of his last 20 and has really turned it on. He looks like a legitimate top LW for years to come. Why is he being overlooked?
Agreed that Okpos is definitely meeting expectations if not exceeding them at this early juncture in his career. Playing on Long Island is always a recipe for being overlooked. That's just the way it is when you play for a 30th place team and when you're not running away with the rookie scoring. No slight on Okposo and it wouldn't surprise me to see him end up on the all-rookie team when the dust clears in June.
Does Zdeno Chara win the Norris Trophy this year?
Lots of reasons to suggest Chara is the game's best defenseman but I think this is the year that Mike Green wins over the voters. As someone else noted in a question I didn't get to, the Caps are a wildly different team (read: worse) when Green isn't in the line-up as was the case one night last week. His offensive game is by far the most dangerous of any NHL defenseman this season and he is learning to be a better defensive presence, too. My ballot will have Chara and likely Shea Weber to round out the top three.
does obama do a nhl playoff bracket for espn?
He should. Better still have him on with Barry to do some pre-playoff predictions. Assuming he's got to love the Hawks and the Caps in the final.
So does the Thrashers recent play mean we might have a positive outlook going forward here in Atlanta? And for that matter, does it mean Kovy might stick around for a little while?
Had a chance to talk to Bryan Little late last week and there is a definite sense of heading in the right direction in the Thrasher locker room compared to a year ago. Zach Bogosian is the real deal and with Kari Lehtonen appearing to have turned some sort of corner perhaps there will be more impetus for Kovalchuk to sing on long-term in Atlanta than at any point in the recent past. Still, this is his big chance to join a contender as he eyes free agency at the end of next season and not sure the Thrashers are close enough to that stage to keep him in the fold.
So after the Blues get in the playoffs do you think they can upset a team like San Jose in the first round? It would be great considering the Sharks did it to us when we had the league's best record.
I recall that series well. I think Chris Pronger took about 100 penalty minutes for the Blues. Sadly I think if the Blues do sneak in it might have taken all their bullets to get there. And you know the Sharks never spit the bit until the second round.
I hear rumors about the NHL cutting as many as 12 teams in the next few years...
Negative. Like it or not the Dirty Thirty are here to stay.
Who gets the Vezina? I think Thomas deserves it, but would be fine with either Rinne, Mason, or Vokoun winning it. What are the chances though that guys like Kiprusoff, or Lundqvist get nominated sheerly out of reputation once again?
Another trophy race that is bound to generate a ton of debate. My colleague Pierre LeBrun, and a wiser man could hardly be found, suggests that the GMs may give a nod to Roberto Luongo given his terrific second half. Me, I think it's Steve Mason's barring a complete meltdown in the final 10 games. Thomas, as you know, leads the NHL in GAA and save percentage but I think sharing time with Manny Fernandez may hurt his chances of getting the big trophy. He'll have to settle for the Jennings for best team goals against.
How does Jeremy Roenick get to sound off on anything any other player does, especially Crosby? You lose a lot of credibility when you create controversy around yourself by doing selfish things like pouting in a bar when you're scratched or running your mouth over your entire career.
Ah, J.R. Here's the thing. Roenick, who has embarrassed himself on a number of fronts a number of times during his long career has become a virtual model citizen in San Jose. So we'll give him a shot at Crosby because he's been on such good behavior. Plus, compared to Semin's slagging of Crosby earlier this season this isn't so bad.
Scott - Mike Richards might have something to say about handing Datsyuk the Selke so easily.
Agreed. Both those guys are going to be major factors in whether Canada or Russia wins gold next February in Vancouver. Not to mention a Stanley Cup this spring.
what are yr thoughts on the current 3 point system? should a team losing in o.t. be rewarded with a point?
I don't mind the current system although I know there are lots who favor three points for a regulation win, two for an overtime/shootout win and one for an overtime/shootout loss. I was disappointed to see Detroit GM Ken Holland's suggestion that the first tie-breaker become regulation wins got little support at the GMs' meetings in Naples, Florida. That would have been a nice way to reward teams for getting it done in regulation without dramatically altering the current standings system.
are the new blackhawks the nhls biggest surprise this year and are they talented enough to be a contender for the cup
Not sure if the 'Hawks are a bigger surprise than say Boston or Columbus or even Vancouver but big picture their return to relevance in Chicago is likely the biggest story. Now, are they ready to challenge for the Cup? Probably not. They're still young and lack the experience that all teams seem to need to get over the playoff hump (see the Pittsburgh Penguins). Interesting to see how they fare if, as it appears, they face a very good, tough Vancouver team in the first round.
More likely landing spot for Kovalchuk - LA or Colorado?
Los Angeles unless Colorado GM Francois Giguere ends up moving Ryan Smythe (maybe to the Kings?).
Scott if you were behind the Ducks bench, who do you go with Hiller or Giguere ??
Great question. Hiller has proven to be more than a reliable back-up and has helped keep the Ducks afloat (as it were). Still, when push comes to shove don't you have to dance with the guy who brought you (again, as it were); Giguere?
Western Conference Finals, Wings and Sharks, game 7 in San Jose...who takes it?
Hope it comes to that. Roenick from Thornton in OT. Sharks to their first final.
What do you think of Steven Stamkos' turnaround. He is looking like a future superstar. Tocchet and Walz may be on to something in their unorthodox handling of him.
Bill, nice to see. Stamkos has handled a very difficult season with amazing grace. I happened to be in Tampa the night he recorded his first hat-trick and they were all scorers goals. There's lots not to like about the Lightning but Stamkos is a shining light.
If the Ducks make it to the playoffs, how dominate could the Ryan/Perry/Getzlaf line be?
I think a better question is, who else will manage to score if the Ducks make the playoffs? Rarely do one-line teams have any measure of success in the post-season.
Hey Scott. Don't you think enough people are criticized Biron for his inability to lead the Flyers to the cup. I mean not everyone can be as good as me...I mean as good as Mr. Parent.
Bernie, think you are right on the money (and is it true that only Jesus saved more than you?). Is there a worse place to play goal (other than for yourself of course) than in Philly? Think Biron has established himself as a fine NHL starter and having taken the Flyers to an unexpected Eastern Conference final a year ago you would think he'd get cut a little slack.
I like Tony Granato as a coach and I want him to stay but have you heard anything about him getting fired since the team has performed so poorly?
Brandon, the Colorado situation is tough to judge given the injuries they've absorbed this season. And it's not Granato's fault they don't have a bona fide NHL starter. Until that gets corrected, though, this team has no shot at getting back to the playoffs, I don't care how many more years Joe Sakic plays.
playoff dark horses?
Carolina in the East (I don't count the Pens as a dark horse). Anaheim, Columbus and Vancouver in the West.
Was yesterdays win over the Devils a sign of the Bruins breaking their recent funk, or was it a glimpse of their early season play.
Maybe a bit of both John. One explanation for the Bruins' swoon of late was the huge lead they built up in the Eastern Conference. This is a team that is still learning about being a dominant or elite team. They learned a lot taking the Habs to seven games a year ago and it carried over to their play through the first half. The win over the Devils suggest maybe Claude Julien is getting them back into a groove at exactly the right time. I think they're a lock to win the first round. After that is when the real test will come (which I suppose is self-evident).
Should anyone other than Steve Sullivan win the comeback player of the year award? He's a lock in my book.
Thanks folks. Until next week.