Greetings from sunny Naples, Florida, puck fans. I see we've already got a huge queue of questions. Let's get a her.
Do you think the Bruins will win the Cup this year?
They've got as good a shot anyone from the East but I'm sticking with my September pick since no one else picked them back then _ the Sharks. Have to stay loyal !
I have two questions, one hockey related and one not: 1. I'm assuming your favorite baseball team is the Blue Jays. Is that accurate? 2. Is this play we've seen from Nikolai Khabibulin going to last into the playoffs or is it just luck?
1. No. Grew up a massive Expos fan and when they died I didn't pick up another team. I just cheer for whatever players I have on my AL-only Roto team. 2.Hard to tell. He's had good stretches this season but also some stinkers. He's won a Cup so at least you know he's done it before in the playoffs
With a few days left in the season, is it the Canes or the Flyers who end up in the 4 slot?
The Canes look like they may never lose again ! But I'll take the Flyers by vitue of having a game in hand
It seems like when bigger, more physical teams are hitting, they get charged up and they score. So if a team is bigger and more physical why not play big and physical every night? I guess my real question is do you think that teams choose to be less physical on a given night on purpose or do you think coach would like the team to bring it every night and players just don't have the mental will to do do so? Case in point, Caps get out hit 18-9 by Atlanta last night...why?
I think NHL coaches, from what they've told me over the years, always want their teams to be as physically involved as possible. When you have nights like Tuesday it's because the Caps weren't totally committed and I know Bruce Boudreau seemed to think the same juding from his post-game comments
If he does return at all is this the last we see of Super Joe? Also will we ever see Forsberg again? Could Adam Foote be done soon as well? Sakic and Forsberg I believe are sure bets for the Hall but what about Foote?
Tough to say on Sakic, but as a betting man I'd say he's retiring. Forsberg is done for sure I think. Foote has another year left on his deal at $3.25 million so I think he'll honor that and come back for one more season
With the major injuries to Markov and Schnieder, is Montreal the best team for the Caps to face in Round 1? In he playoffs anything can happen, and it being MTL's 100 year anniversary worries me...
Had Montreal been healthy I would have been concerned as a Caps fan to play Montreal because the Habs like to play the skill on skill game. But without Markov and Schneider they are such a different team, their transition game shot and their power play impotent. So yes, cheers for a matchup with the Habs
What first round upsets do you see in the East?
I think a sixth-seeded PIttsburgh could take New Jersey.
Pierre, what's your take on an all-California first-round between Anaheim and San Jose? It has never happened before in the playoffs!
Yes I know that... would cut down on travel time instead of having to play in a different time zone for once.... Anaheim is a dangerous first-round foe for San Jose. The Duck are two years removed from their Cup triumph... would be a great series
It seems like the eastern conference has better individual players (Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin amd co.) and the west has better all around teams, do you think this is a stylistic issue or just the hype that the big three get from the media?
No, it's just a fact. The best three players in the world play in the East and by far the best overall conference in terms of quality o teams is the West. Such if life.
Pierre, a couple weeks ago, the Oilers looked good in the Western Conference playoff hunt while holding down the 7th seed. Now, they are out of the playoff hunt with a loss to the Kings. Will Craig MacTavish be out as the Oilers coach?
yes, my guess is that MacT will do the classy thing and resign from the job
how deep do you think the Blues can go into the playoffs? and also is Paul Kariya gonna be back if we make it to the playoffs?
Blues could be a big upset team. Last I checked on Kariya, which was about a month ago, the Blues told me there was hope he'd be back for sometime in the first round of the playoffs
Pierre, I enjoyed the article about the Central divison. The division, however, has already clinched the most points by a division because with the games played last night, they have 474 points cumulatively. The division has 13 games left (CHI-3, DET-3, CBJ-3, NSH-2, STL-2). Of these games, 5 are intradivision, meaning that the division could potentially earn 3 pts in each game, but is guaranteed to earn 10 points. The division could finish with anywhere from 484 to 495 points, but either way is assured of breaking the post lockout record you spoke of.
Well, thank you very much John. Yes I was going to update their big points tally on Monday. Thanks for reminding me John.
Why no love for Malkin for MVP? I understand that Ovechkin is a great talent, but Malkin is doing more with less. And when Ovechkin won last year, all he did was get the Caps in the playoff while Malkin got them to the Finals.
as I said in my explainer, I may still change my mind before my official, real-life vote for the Hart. They both deserve it. it's a tough call
Big night for the Blues on Tuesday with their win and the Preds loss. Blues definitely have the easier of the finishing schedules (Columbus, @ Colorado) as opposed to Nashville's (@ Detroit, @ Minnesota). Do the Blues finally make it back into the playoffs?
yep, make your playoff travel plans Bret !
Pierre, what are your thoughts about Correy Perry's actions against the Sharks' goalies? First his cross check to the back of Nabokov's leg and then his punch and apparent step on Boucher's head and stomach. Should the NHL step in or will Perry just feel the wrath of Jody Shelley if the Ducks meet the Sharks in the playoffs?
He's a dirty but very talented player. In the great tradition of Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe and Mark Messier, among many others, he can score big goals and throw his elbows around as well...
Since it is unlikely that the Sabres will make the playoffs and since Dominik Hasek has left only making it twice, Do you see the Sabres making any sort of personal changes this off-season?
I'd like to see them add more leadership in the room. I think that's lacking right now. But otherwise, there's a danger in overreacting. If Ryan Miller and Thoms Vanek don't miss a month apiece, they're probably sitting seventh in the conference right now
Hey Pierre, My friend Bitter and I can't seem to agree on who should win the Hart. He thinks that Ovechkin is a shoe-in for MVP because Malkin has Crosby and Gonchar backing him up in Pittsburgh, but doesn't the same hold true for Semin, Backstrom, and Green in Washington? I'm willing to admit I'm wrong, but only if you say so.
Flip a coin, they both deserve it. And I hope your friend Bitter isn't too down on life
I don't think the playoff frenzy in the Central Division is a fluke. I think for many years to come, the central will be the one of the toughest if not the toughest in all of hockey.
yes i believe I wrote that yesterday in my blog :)
the caps are virtually a lock to pick up a point in their next 2 games to clinch the 2 seed in the east. so, mr lebrun, who should they hope to finish in 7th?
an injury-riddled Montreal
Steiny: Is he a great chatter or just sends in so many questions that he has to get something posted?
Yo, Pierre, My esteemed colleague, Mr. Merlo, and I have been having a gentlemenly disagreement about the Selke award. My friend is obviously confused and believes that Pavel Datsyuk is the second coming, but I'm squarely in the corner of the new breed, Mike Richards and his heaping pile of shorties. Please let me know your thoughts so that Mr. Merlo might find some education. Ding! School's in!
Datsyuk will win again with Richards a close second. At least on my official ballot.
As an admittedly biased Caps fan I just don't quite get the late season love for Malkin for the Hart. The Pens are a team that has underachieved all season long and Malkin's late season stats have been less impressive than his early season numbers. His points per game has dropped by .2 ppg since the new coach was hired and he only has 1 goal and 5 assists in his past 7 games, during a playoff push. Conversely, Ovechkin has 5 goals and 10 assists in his last 7 games and his points per game has gone up to 1.6 ppg during the same time frame that Malkin's has dropped by .2 ppg. Big players play big when it counts and Malkin is not playing as well during crunch time...again.
Malkin kept the Pens afloat with Gonchar out, Crosby out for a few games, the team strugglin... he was their most consistent player and may go wire to wire to win the Art Ross.
pierre, do you see the jackets making a deep playoff run if they can get by the winner of the northwest? they would have a favorable matchup against san jose in the second round in my mind, if they advance. it seems like the jackets play well against the top teams in the league and ok hockey when they play the subpar teams like st louis, nashville, phoenix, etc. also, do you see them adding to their roster over the off season?
I like their chances against Calgary but not so much against Vancouver. The Canucks offer up the only goalie who matchs up evenly with Mason. To me, the Flames' Kipper looks overworked and tired and the Flames aren't in synch right now.
Now that Vancouver and Calgary are tied for the Northwest Division lead after last night's game with Calgary holding the tiebreaker, which team do you think will come out on top? Also, would you rather face Chicago or Columbus in the first round?
I see the Canucks still winning. Chicago has picked up its game after a so-so second half. The Hawks look dangerous and cocky again. But Columbus may have the best goalie this season in net. Pick your poison but I guess the Hawks' massive inexperience might be your best bet
Hello Pierre! The best kept secret in th NHL that is the Carolina Hurricanes is starting to leak out. Assuming that everyone stays healthy, what chance do you give the Canes to hoist their second Cup?
It's wide-open in the East with the top six seeds all having a good shot. Welcome to parity ! But the Hurricanes have looked tremendously impressive, especially Cam Ward.
The Ducks have put together a good streak and seem to be playing great hockey AS A TEAM (with some new blood in the line-up). How do you see them doing if they make the playoffs? they seem to match up well against the top teams in the conference especially San Jose and Calgary.
Watch Pronger, Niedermayer and the '07 Cup boys bring their game up even more come next week... Jonas Hiller is the wild card, hasn't been there before...
I'm gonna get 60 goals this season, so everyone can stop debating about who's gonna win the hart. Sorry Geno, it's my year...again
Alex, your English keeps getting better. But if the Hart were only about scoring goals, we wouldn't need to hand out a Rocket Richard Trophy.
Hi, Pierre - I'm a long-time Blues fan (let's just say I remember BJ Crombeen's dad scoring a goal in double overtime against the Penguins to win a play-off series nearly 3 decades ago). Should I be encouraged with what Davidson has brought to this team. Not expecting much in the playoffs this year - but hopefully the future looks bright.
Dave, the future looks so bright you better wear shades. Imagine you haven't even had your best young defenseman all year in Erik Johnson and there's more on the farm. Great, great future. JD deserves a lot of credit for turning the ship around along with Larry Pleau and Doug Armstrong in St. Louis.
Bonjour Pierre, out of the top 5 teams in the NHL (San Jose, Detroit, Boston, New Jersey, Washington)which do you think has the best chance of being upset in the first round and do you think it will happen?
I think New Jersey and Washington are the most vulnerable in that group. The Devils had another stinker last night to Toronto and haven't played well sicne marty broke the record. The Caps are loose defensively and who knows what you'll get from Jose Theodore
If the Florida Panthers miss the playoffs will that cost GM Jacque Martin his job?
I hope not, because I think he made a gutsy decision in keeping Bouwmeester despite his UFA status July 1. But I think it would be naive not to think Jacques might be in trouble.
With Ottawa out of the playoffs, and even though they are playing well when it does not matter, does the offseason include dealing away one of the big three, Alfredsson, Heatley or Spezza?
Healtey has a no-trade clause and Alfie might as well written on his forehead given that he's the face of the franchise with a post-career job in the organization his for the taking. So that leaves Spezza, whose no-trade doesn't kick in until July 1. I think Bryan Murray will listen to offers but only pull the trigger if he gets enough in return to justify it. And I'm not sure he will.
Which 3 teams have impressed you the most this year?
1. San Jose, people keep forgetting that almost no one picked them to win the West back in September 2. Boston. From eighth to first, enough said. 3. St. Louis. Can't believe the Blues survived all the injuries
Quite simply, last two teams in, one in the east, one in the west.
Rangers and Blues
What's your take on Chris Hanson's NHL future after going undrafted and scoring in his first NHL game?
It actually wasn't his first NHL game last night but who's counting :) I think he's got potentioal to be a second/third line player
Pierre, the Islanders lost a franchise record 9-0 last night to the Canes. Any chance we see the Las Vegas or Kansas City Islanders next year?
Well, if the Islanders move it's got nothing to do with losing 9-0 last night, but rather owner Charles Wong not getting the Lighthouse Project off the ground (a real estate development that will rebuilt Nassau Coliseaum)
What's your take on the Flyers goaltending situation in the playoffs?
Let's give Marty a chance, he proved last spring he can deliver the goods in the playoffs
How will Grier and Lemieux's return impact the Shark's Cup chances?
Grier, especially, is a huge return. His work ethic and sandpaper qualities are tremendous. Great on the PK and a very useful playoff peformer in tight games. I can't tell you how many times people in the Sabres organization have told me how much they miss him.
Pierre, I just have to say you have a nice goatee.
Well, gee, thank you so much :)
Where does Paul Kariya end up next year?
St. Louis. He still has another year left on his deal at $6 million
Who should get more credit for the Pens comback? Sergei Gonchar or Danny Bylsma?
No offense to Bylsma who's done a great job, but it's amazing how much the Pens missed their No. 1 defenseman _ transition game, defensive coverag, power play, PK.... Look a Montreal now without Andrei Markov
Will Mike Green remain prolific in the playoffs?
Every analyst seems to write off the Sharks as an average playoff team. Where's the love for the West?
Obviously you haven't followed by blogs this year ! I love the Sharks
What's your take on the Sean Avery headtap?
Stupid, but not he end of the world
Should Mike Richards be a Selke finalist behind Datsyuk?
yes, he will be on my ofifical ballot
Will the Pens supporting cast behind Malkin and Crosby be enough to take them on another long playoff run?
They've got what it takes. There's not much separatin the top six seeds in the East, so anything can happen, but Pittsburgh does have enough depth to make a deep run
The Panthers gambled on keeping Bouwmeester this year at the deadline. Where do you see Bouwmeester next year if he doesn't resign with Florida?
He won't re-sign with the Panthers so don't hold your breath on that one. I think he wants to return to Western Canada so Edmonton and Calgary are obvious bets but also watch out for Toronto, I think Brian Burke may throw the bank at him
How do you see the Star's season next year with the aging stars of Sergei Zubov and Mike Modano?
Listen, they got hammered by injuries, I mean clobbered. Just getting Morrow and Zubov and Richards back healthy will be a huge. Loui Ericksson and James Neal took huge stries this year and Steve Ott became a complete player. There's hope.
Any chance I see my beloved Whalers back in the NHL soon?
I don't think so. But I can tell you that my cell phone ring tune is the Brass Bonanza. It drives my wife crazy but my dog likes it.
If the Blues make the playoffs, what would their most favorable match-up be? Also, if Kariya comes back, does he make the lineup for the playoffs or would that the affect the teams chemistry negatively?
Unfortunately, there is no favorable matchup. San Jose and Detroit are the best two teams in the NHL. Pick your poison
A few weeks ago the NHL came out and said it would cut down on fighting especially right off a faceoff. Fighting hasn't seemed to slow down, though. Good for NHL?
Paul, the new ''staged fights" rule that GMs recommended at their march meetings won't take effect until next season. And it still requires approval from the Competition Committee and the Board of Governors.
Who do you think will be the biggest name traded this offseason?
My 'Nucks are really surging now. You think they can take the division and how far will they go in the playoffs?
I think they have a reasonable shot at going all the way... San Jose and Detroit are still the teams to beat but Vancouver has a shot
Will the Rangers be able to hold onto the 8th playoff spot these last few games or will the Panthers catch them?
I say the Rangers make it
The shootout goal by the guy from the Sweden: Best shootout goal you've seen? Where does it rank?
By far the best I've ever seen. But given the pressure and the moment, Peter Forsberg's 1994 shootout goal to beat Canada and give Sweden the Olympic gold medal was pretty impressive as well.
Well I am one sad Panther fan as of last night, but we can only blame ourselves and a non call that led to a bad goal by Vokun. Anyway thanks as always for the time and what do you see happening for the 8 spot in the West?
Also Sean, blame your team's record in shootouts this season. That's a factor. The West? St. Louis
What are the odds we see a Pens/Wings repeat in the Stanley Cup Finals?
They're not unreasonable
Have you considered shaving the goatee and rolling with the 'stache?
I did that for a time in the mid-1990s but looked like an overweight porn star. Now I just look like an overweight hockey writer :)
I think the jackets are highly overrated and the entire season is just. If they make it it will be the worst thing for the NHL. What are the odds the jackets dont make the playoffs
Tony, we allowed your Preds to make the playoffs, why not the Jackets?
Assuming the Hawks hold onto the 4th spot, how do you think they would do in a 7 game series against Calgary? What about Vancouver?
If I'm the Hawks, I'd rather face Calgary. I think the 'Nucks have something special going on right now
Gaborik is on fiiiiire! His late season performance after coming back from hip surgery has kept the Wild alive. Which is more likely: a team caves and give him his rumored salary demands ($8+ million per year)in a long term deal or do you think he might take a one year flier with a team (the Pens?) so he can put up big numbers and cash in bigtime in 2010 free agency?
Hard to predict July 1 given the state of the economy and the cap going down in two years... I don't think he'll get $8 million but maybe between $6.5 milion and $7 million
Who picks up the Hart trophy this year?
Same every year Rufus, members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, which I am part of. The PHWA also picks the Calder, Norris and Selke. The team broadcasters select the Jack Adams while the NHL's 30 GMs vote on the Vezina
Pierre, Now that Beauchemin is cleared to play for the Ducks & Hedican coming back, how scary does that Ducks BLue Line look now? With Beauch on the 3rd pairing.
Best in the league
Who wins the Vezina this year?
I think it's between Tim Thomas, Steve Mason and Roberto Luongo
Is it possible Gareth Snow was a better goalie then GM? I mean come on.
I'm guessing you mean Garth Snow, although Gareth is a stylish name. Give him time, the Isles have some young pieces in the system and have a shot at tavares in June
Getting Cole back now seems like one of the best trade moves this season. The chemistry between him and Staal on the ice is amazing.
Jim Rutheford has always had a great feel for his dressing room and its needs
Do you believe the Blackhawks youth will stop them from making a deep playoff run?
I hope not, but yes, that's what I fear
Any suggestions on how to respond to obnoxious Penguins fans?
Remind them they live in Pittsburgh :)
OK cool cats, time for me to get out and get the remaining Florida sunshine for the day. Talk to you next week !!! The playoffs are almost here !!!!!