Greetings and salutations as we begin the last week of the regular season. Bring it on.
Hi Scott thanks for the time to meet with us today. I was wondering your feelings on the 8 seed in the East. With the Panthers now tied with the seemingly fading Rangers what do you think of the Panthers chances to sneak in?
Sean, my pleasure. The plucky Panthers have Philly, Atlanta and Washington left while the Rangers have two against Philly and one against Montreal. Given that the Rangers hold the tie-breaker right now with one more win (they're tied in points) that means the Panthers have to out-point the Rangers. Let's say the Rangers go 1-1-1 that means the Panthers would have to win two of three. This is where the three-point game may end up killing the Panthers' chances. I say the Rangers end up besting Florida maybe just on the wins tie-breaker.
Is there something wrong, metally, with Sean Avery?
I don't think it's the metal I think it's the cement.
Fine or suspension for Avery's 'accidental tap' to Thomas' head during Saturday's tv timeout? The NHL can't be pleased given his rap sheet/reputation.
Okay, one more on Avery who has been, for the most part, one of the best parts of the Rangers in recent days. I think the whole thing got slightly overblown and no one got hurt and no one's girlfriend was offended (at least that we're aware of) so I doubt there'll be any supplementary discipline. I agree, though, this is the kind of thing that gives commissioner Gary Bettman a little indigestion given Avery's history.
Malkin or Ovechkin? Who is your Hart Trophy Winner?
Great question, great race. Two points separating the two of them with a week to go. I was all Malkin when he was 11 points up on Ovechkin now it's a little tougher. Still, I like Malkin's all-around game and I think he has become a better two-way player and may edge out Ovechkin in the final voting. Malkin it is.
The wild are toast... Time to have a fire sale? keep only Koivu, Backstrom and Burns I say...
I think the bigger question is whether ownership has the interest or the gumption to come in and make a move at the top with GM Doug Risebrough and head coach Jacques Lemaire. Both are terrific hockey men but have failed to move this team forward at all.
Please tell me thomas takes the Vezina this year! Best in the league in saves and GAA is unbelievable for a 34 year old.
Glad I don't have to vote on this one (it's the GMs' job). Splitting time with Manny Fernandez may hurt Thomas's chances a little with such virtuoso performances coming from the likes of Steve Mason and Pekka Rinne but I like Thomas's chances with Luongo and the Canucks stumbling a bit and the Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist unable to nail down a playoff berth. He is, without a doubt, a great story not to mention an inspiration for players thinking of packing it in.
Scott, you're a magician when it comes to sports insight. If you're looking to help the Sharks pull off a magic trick, which teams are you hoping they play in order to pull the stanley cup out of your hat next time your in SJ? And which teams do you feel give SJ the toughest match up, from the West or East?
Well, if the Sharks can end up facing Colorado, Phoenix and the Islanders...oh, sorry, my magic hat isn't that deep. I think the Sharks match up well against Nashville given that they've beaten the Preds in '06 and '07. And let's be honest, there isn't a team the Sharks shouldn't be handily in the first two rounds but we've heard that story before haven't we?
Environmentalists have made their choice for the Norris, "We think the Norris should Go Green this year"...Mike Green that is. How bout you?
Hard to vote against Mother Earth but I think the vote will ultimately come down to Green's offensive acumen against Zdeno Chara's all-round game and leadership for a Boston team that just clinched the conference title. I think Green will win it. Just not sure yet he should.
Steve Mason has got to be the winner of the Vezina. How bout some CBJ love for once!
I don't think we have an anti-Columbus bias here. And come on they're going to the playoffs for the first time. As for Mason I think it's pretty much a lock although I keep saying look at Pekka Rinne's numbers, not all that much different and while he's played fewer games he may have had as big an impact on the Preds' chances as Mason has in Columbus. Great race from two terrific rookies no one expected to be making much of an impact this season.
I asked you this last week and you said you would contat Elias Sports Bureau: has anyone ever lead the league in both GAA and SVG and NOT won the Vezina?
Marc. I have failed you miserably. But I swear I am going to get to the bottom of this.
Scott, if the Devils are able to start playing the way they were before the recent skid, how far do you see them going in the playoffs?
Mike, that's the big question, no? I liked them to go to the Eastern Conference final when they were rolling and with Martin Brodeur coming back so strong. Yet now I wonder if they have the 'next gear' necessary to get anywhere. They'll likely face either Carolina, Philly or Pittsburgh. Honestly, not sure they're up to beating any of those teams right now.
Should I be panicking after seeing my avs win last night? What if they move up to 3rd overall and don't get a to 2 pick, is there THAT much of a dropoff for the next 3 picks?
Don't fret B-Diddy the Avs are so bad they can't possibly replicate last night's performance against Vancouver. I believe a lottery pick and at least the first or second pick in the draft is theirs. As for the drop-off you know what a crapshoot the draft is but the consensus is that Tavares and Hedman are head and shoulders above the rest.
Scott, let's put you on the spot. It's the end of the year, what are your predictions for the conference and cup match ups!
Given the uncertainty of the standings this will be totally unscientific but all things being equal I like Boston and Pittsburgh in the east and San Jose and Detroit in the west (I know, big limb there). Cup final? Pittsburgh Detroit again. This time the Pens come out on top. Of course if the Pens end up with the Bruins in the first round then all bets are off. How's that for gutsy?
Just wanted to say that you have nice hair.
You are a very wise man.
After the Stars have faild to make the playoffs this year do you think that there will be any changes? And is this the last we will see of Mike Modano?
Andrew, I think you can chalk this season up to Sean Avery and injuries and then move on. Quickly. I expect Modano will be back for one more. I suspect the lure of the Olympics will be incentive enough. The biggest question will be Sergei Zubov. Assuming he's recovered from surgery will he give the Stars a hometown discount which will allow them to work under the salary cap? I think yes. With Brenden Morrow and Brad Richards healthy this will be a playoff team a year from now. I guarantee it. Unless of course they reacquire Avery.
If the playoffs started today, Pittsburgh is the 6th seed. So for it to be PIT/BOS in the East Finals, Montreal has to beat Washington, any chance that happens?
That is the problem with trying to guess now who will end up where. But I do think the Caps are vulnerable against a team that can score and who has the potential to throw out a hot goaltender (Carey Price anyone?) Plus I wonder about the mental part for Jose Theodore having to face the Habs and the fans in his hometown. Hmmmm. That would be some great drama.
Every year great goaltenders come out of the woodwork. Provide two sleeper goaltenders who will be given a chance to shine next season.
Great question. How about Simeon Varlamov in Washington and Al Montoya in Phoenix.
What are you thinking about the Blues with three games left? And how do you feel about a strong run in the 1st round? If that happens....Andy Murray, coach of the year?
Andrew, just think people were whispering that Andy Murray was in trouble heading into this season. Junk talk. Still, the Blues may have the easiest road to the post-season of those in the hunt. At Phoenix and Colorado and home to Columbus. Win two of three and they're in. I think. Maybe. As for the first round? Not much of a prize having to beat San Jose four times in seven but stranger things have happened (ie. Edmonton 2006 six games over Detroit).
Scott, which of the top teams (DET, SJ, BOS, WASH) do you see as most vulnerable to a 1st round upset?
Neal, good question. I would say the Caps given their propensity for giving up lots of goals. See my earlier response to a possible Theodore homecoming in Montreal. That said, if he can get on a roll the Caps could be in for the long haul. That's a pretty big if though.
Realistically, how many more years can we assume Brodeur will play? As a Flyers fan, I will throw a party the day that man retires. Has he done more damage to any one team than the Flyers? Makes me wonder how good some of those late 90's/ early 00's Flyers teams would have been with the big MB in their net.
Assuming relative good health I figure you've got three more years of Mr. Brodeur at least six times a year (barring changes to the schedule and playoff appearances). Good luck.
Bruins are 3 pts behind the Sharks with 1 game in hand...who wins the President's Trophy?
Who do you believe will win the Jack Adams Award and the Masterdon Trophy this year?
I'm guessing Steve Sullivan for the Masterton and the Jack Adams is wide open. If I had to choose the top three coaches I'd go with; Brent Sutter, Claude Julien and Barry Trotz
What do you think of Mike Richards winning the Selke Trophy?
I think he'll have to arm wrestle it away from Pavel Datsyuk. Should be fun to watch.
It looks like the Hawks should get home ice in the first round against either Vancouver or Calgary. How do you see that series playing out depending on who they face? They were 4-0 against Calgary and 2-2 against Vancouver during the regular season. Go Hawks!
Brian, I think any chance the 'Hawks have of advancing through the first round comes with home ice. The United Center will be rocking. All three teams have been prone to going sideways through the second half but I think the 'Hawks match up better against Calgary simply because the Flames can't seem to get their offense going and appear more fragile and capable of going completely off the rails. Of course fans in Calgary may be saying the same thing about the Blackhawks.
I have already cleared a place on my shelf for the comeback player of the year. Any problems with that?
Simon. It's nice to have you back. Did you call Steve Sullivan to tell him you were taking the trophy?
In your opinion, who do you think is is the best Canadian team?
At this very minute it might well be the Habs. Go figure. In a playoff series I still like the Canucks. Last month's Canucks. Not Sunday's Canucks.
Why do most of the hockey writers always seem to write off the Sharks? Is it because they are west of Oklahoma and south of the canadian border?
Mike I think it's because they've developed this habit of spitting the bit every second round.
Any reason for the dislike of everything Caps? No Ovie for MVP? Don't think Green deserves Norris? and ready for them to be bumped in the first round?
Hey, they were my Team Can Dream a year ago and they got all kinds of love from us.
I wanted to clear one thing up from past chats. You've said more than one that you can't just wave a magic wand to make teams disappear. No magic wand needed: PHX declare bankrupcy and contract / ATL buy out the owners who don't want a team and contract. Presto - 28 team NHL. 4 division of 7.
Hmmm. You may be on to something. Still, I doubt if it's going to happen. Certainly not on Gary Bettman's watch.
Any luck of the Canes snatching 4th place? That would be something else, wouldn't it?
Absolutely there's a chance of that happening. The 'Canes and Flyers are tied in points but the 'Canes have two more wins. The Flyers have a game in hand but they have to put up points. Another potential series (Philly/Carolina) where home ice would be crucial.
It's been 4 years since I've seen ANY playoff actions for the Leafs. When do you see this team making the playoffs? Next season, the season after?
RD I am guessing two years at the earliest.
Do you think that Dan Bylsma deserves consideration for the Jack Adams Award?
Not enough games but nonetheless a magnificent job. I am sure he'd rather have a contract extension than the hardware.
If the Red Wings resign Hossa and Franzen is there any way they can keep Hudler and Fillpula too?
GM Ken Holland has been pretty candid saying he can't keep all his guys. Franzen and Hossa are priorities and if he gets them both under contract before July 1 watch for him to try and move some other assets or the rights to them at the draft. But there's not room in the Red Wing ship for all four of the players you mentioned.
Will this be the year Joe Thornton becomes the man in the playoffs?
Seriously though he's never going to have as good a team around him as he does this season.
Would you agree with the general statement that goalies tend to be a little nuts?
Well that used to be the case with most NHL netminders. And there were certainly interesting personalities issues with guys like Patrick Roy and Ed Belfour. Yet someone like Martin Brodeur is almost the polar opposite in terms of being 'normal'. Maybe it's all been sanitized out of the game now, that weirdness.
Who is your Calder Trophy winner and what production can I expect from them next season?
I think Pekke Rinne and Steve Mason will be on the final ballot along with Bobby Ryan from Anaheim. Ryan's got all kinds of up-side. As for sophomore goalies, that's a little more prickly as we've seen from guys like Carey Price. Bigger potential downside for tenders I would think.
What matchup do you want and need to see in this playoffs I have one or two I am keeping an eye out for sure but what are your picks this post season?
I must admit I have a hankering to see the Caps and Pens at some point. And we've been talking all year about Detroit and San Jose. I think we should see how it would play out in real life.
Thanks, as always, for the questions. A week from now we'll know the skinny on who's going where. Can't wait.