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April 15, 11:23 AM ET
NHL analyst Barry Melrose

Barry Melrose
  (3:00 PM)

I hope all the other hockey fans feel the same way...this is the greatest time of the year, the first round of the playoffs.

Justin (PA)

How much does home advantage really mean to the players. Is it more pressure to try to take those first two games at home or easier since you get to sleep in your own bed and have fan support?

Barry Melrose
  (3:01 PM)

I personally would like to open on the road, especially with a young team like St. Louis and Columbus. There's no pressure on you, you can play loose and without a lot of emotion. If you look at hockey, home ice is not that important. It's not like it's a huge thing like the NBA. If it goes to a game 7, you'd like to have it at home, but overall it's not a big deal.

John (San Francisco, CA)

Level with me, should I skip watching my Sharks or will they get through the Ducks?

Barry Melrose
  (3:02 PM)

It's probably the worst matchup they could get. The one positive thing is that, if they beat the Ducks, they'll feel pretty good about themselves, but it's hard to depend on the Sharks since they let us down so much. I think you should watch, pray, and hope you don't get let down.

Mike Columbia,MD

Who do you see coming out of the East to play for the cup? Do the Caps have a chance of beating Boston?

Barry Melrose
  (3:03 PM)

I like the Caps. They're my pick to come out of the East. I love their offense and think they'll be more committed to defense in the playoffs. They have a great power play. This is Ovechkin's time...to be considered a great player, you have to show up in the playoffs, and I think the Caps are poised to do some damage.

B-Diddy (Munstoeville, WYO)

I say 3 fights in tonight's Burgh/Philly hatefest. You going over or under?

Barry Melrose
  (3:03 PM)

Under. I wish I could say over, but in today's NHL, the only way you see fights is if the game gets out of hand. It will be very intense and nasty, but there just aren't fights in the playoffs anymore.

Jim (Elmhurst, IL)

How do you see the young Blackhawks performing in their first playoffs? How do you see the veteran Khabibulin performing?

Barry Melrose
  (3:04 PM)

Khabibulin finished the year on a good note, and he's played well int he playoffs before. I think the Blackhawks are going to do some damage. I like this team a lot. They are deep in a lot of areas. They're very talented. They beat Calgary four times, which doesn't mean too much, but it's nice to have in your psyche.

Zach (OH)

Does Steve Mason have to play a perfect series for the Jackets to upset the Wings?

Barry Melrose
  (3:05 PM)

Yes. He's gotta be unbelievable. We've seen a great goaltender be the equalizer before. Mason has to steal this series...it's the only chance Columbus has.

Jack (Pittsburgh, PA)

Do you think the Pens did enough at the trade deadline to beat a team like Detroit or San Jose?

Barry Melrose
  (3:06 PM)

I don't think Pittsburgh is as good this year as they were last year--they've lost Hossa, Malone, Roberts, etc. They will rely on Crosby and Malkin, while Gonchar needs to be the leader.

Michael (Great Neck, New York)

Why does everyone say that the Rangers woon't be able to score against the Caps? Since the Coaching change they have been averaging about 2.81 g/g, almost 0.4 better than before.

Barry Melrose
  (3:07 PM)

I don't think it's a case of them not being able to score, but can they score enough? The Rangers have to win 2-1, 3-2 games, and it's very hard to keep the Caps off the scoreboard. Lundqvist needs to be great for the Rangers to beat the Caps.

Tyler(Raleigh,NC)

What do the Canes need to do to win the series against the Devils?

Barry Melrose
  (3:08 PM)

They have to continue to play the way they're playing. Cam Ward finished the season well, Eric Stahl was great the last 20 games. Hopefully the Devils will continue to play the way THEY are playing---they've limped into the playoffs.

Rick (St.Louis,Mo)

How big is it for a young team like the Blues to get that playoff experiance for next year that could see the return or Brewer, Johnson, and Kariya?

Barry Melrose
  (3:09 PM)

It's awesome. For them to make the playoffs after the start they had is a great story. The more games their young players can get in, the better. They have a tough matchup against Vancouver, but as I said before, it's good for them to open on the road.

Robert (Raleigh NC)

If I told you that only one series would be a sweep and only one series would go 7, which 2 would you think they were?

Barry Melrose
  (3:09 PM)

That's a good question. Pittsburgh-Philly would go seven, and if there was a sweep, it would be Detroit-Columbus.

Dan(Chicago)

Barry, I noticed you were the only "expert" to pick the Ducks over SJ. Are you sticking with it?

Barry Melrose
  (3:10 PM)

Of course I'm sticking with it! I like the way the Ducks are playing going into the playoffs. They're getting great goaltending and have a lot of experience. They are underdogs, but guys like Pronger and Niedermayer play better this time of year.

Joe (Vallejo, CA)

Would it be a good idea for Anaheim to start Hiller even though Giguere has the experience in the playoffs?

Barry Melrose
  (3:11 PM)

That's an interesting call. Hiller has played better down the stretch, but Giguere has the experience. That's why coaches are paid big dollars. I will say that if Hiller struggles, Giguere will be in there quickly.

Mike Columbia,MD

Who are your canidates for coach of the year?

Barry Melrose
  (3:12 PM)

My pick to win is Claude Julien, but I think Andy Murray has done a great job in St. Louis.

Adam (Blacksburg Virginia)

When it comes down the the finals, who do you like to win it all -- the east or the west?

Barry Melrose
  (3:13 PM)

Pretty hard to overlook the West. San Jose, Detroit, Chicago, Vancouver...all of these teams are great. I think it'll be Detroit, personally.

Steve Pittsburgh Pa

Barry have you ever seen a final like Bu Miami Saturday?

Barry Melrose
  (3:14 PM)

It was great hockey. The final game was spectacular. The finish was unbelievable...to come back like that was phenomenal. Those kids from Miami will feel this the rest of their lives.

Barry Melrose
  (3:14 PM)

I hope everyone's tuning in, and I hope everyone's team wins!