Hello all. Am in Pittsburgh for Game 6 and with all four of the conference semifinals hitting at least six games it's hard to imagine it getting any better. Let's have at it.
really?!? walker doesn't get suspended for sucker punching ward!? he only gets a $2,500 fine?! nice work nhl.........
Rob; Yes, once again the NHL's curious system of handing down 'justice' seems flawed. Chris Kunitz received the same fine for his cross-check on Simeon Varlamov but this was far more aggressive and may keep Ward from continued play. No, don't get it.
Any word on Sergi Gonchar?
Head coach Dan Bylsma plays his line-up cards pretty close to his vest but there was no discussion this morning about Gonchar going tonight. The debate rests with whether to go with seven defensemen in which case both Alex Goligoski and Philippe Boucher will go tonight or just six defensemen in which case I am guessing Goligoski will go. My guess is Bylsma goes back to the same line-up he used in Game 5 which means seven defensemen and Pascal Dupuis will be a healthy scratch from the forward line-up.
I have to work late on Thursday, any chance I'll be missing any game 7s or are they all done?
B-Diddy, you'd better get your computer hooked to NHL streaming because it wouldn't surprise me at all if the Bruins and 'Canes are still going at it. Less likely I think the other two go seven games given that the 'Hawks and Pens can close their series out tonight on home ice.
Scott, the key to the Wings-Ducks series has been the depth of the Red Wings wearing down the one line + Teemu Selanne Ducks. Is any team going to be able to match that depth going forward?
Tom; I think there are a couple of teams whose strength is their depth including Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Washington even though the Caps need to see more of it if they're going to advance. The Wings have that incredible mix of star power plus tremendous supporting help both up front and on the blue line. That's where they separate themselves from the pack. I think the Pens come closest given the presence of Malkin and Crosby.
Scott, do you think the Ducks should switch the Giguere for game 6? The team needs a shot in the arm/spark, Giguere isnt a slouch in the playoffs, do you think they make the move, to try and shake things up in Anaheim?
James; I doubt it. Hiller wasn't really at fault yesterday and if you recall they were still down just a goal, 2-1, late in the third. In fact I still think it's curious there was no interference call on Dan Cleary on the Wings' third as he was in the crease and making it hard for Hiller to get himself set. The Ducks have to get back to their physical play and get more from their offensive group so I'm guessing Hiller stays.
would you be shocked if the ducks win this series?
Wes; In a word, yes.
Scott, obviously a little biased here, if by nothing else then by having seen more games, but it occurs to me while watching Caps/Pens that Ovechkin, while arguably the best individual player in the league, makes his team's offense less dynamic, more one-dimensional while he is in there, whereas Crosby does the opposite for the Pens. Thoughts?
Nick; I'm not sure I agree. Ovechkin is a dynamic goal-scoring force, that's evident in how he drives the net and how often he shoots. But has a nice eye for the pass and you've seen it in this series. As for Crosby I recall articles earlier in the year suggesting he would never score big numbers because he didn't have a big shot etc. etc. He doesn't shoot like Ovechkin - who does - but he knows exactly where to go to score and his hand-eye co-ordination are extraordinary as we've seen with his ability to bat pucks out of mid-air. Two greats playing in a great, great series, that's for sure.
Enough of the three stars in the Caps / Pitt game... how about some good two way hockey! Does anyone focus on +/- anymore? I will gladly take Pavel's +34 w/97 pts over ANY other F in the game.
John; Actually all three of those guys have played pretty good two-way hockey. And you're getting great two-way hockey in this series from a lot of guys (the Jordan Staal comes to mind) and in the Boston/Carolina series the games haven't been close but in each one the team that's getting the most from all three/four lines they roll is the team that's dominating. I must admit I am less prone to quote plus/minus as a determining factor during the regular season because it is always skewed in favor of players on good teams. Good plus/minus doesn't necessarily tell you if you're a good player.
i would just like u to admit that your article calling the caps the "best young team in the nhl" was premature. the pens and blackhawks are awefully young too.
Matt; I guess we'll find out in a few hours.
All the trades that were made this season and it looks like that Jussi Jokinen for Wade Brookbank and Josef Melichar has made the most impact on the playoffs. Who could have forseen Jokinen doing what he is doing and how much of a genius is JR to ALWAYS pull moves like this?
Robert; I have been and remain a long-time fan of the work done by Jim Rutherford. He sees the big picture - think about last year's deadline trade to acquire Joe Corvo and his move to bring in Joni Pitkanen both of whom are big factors in the 'Canes playoff success this spring. He is a true gentleman, too. As for Jokinen, here's a guy that wasn't good enough to play for a bad Tampa team but has been clutch for the 'Canes. Maybe it wasn't Jokinen after all.
I have been listening to ESPN radio all day and they are saying that if anyone other than Ovechkin put that hit on Gonchar, it would have been a five minute major and a likely suspension. Why the double standard? How can someone blatantly take out arguably the most important player on the opposing team with a dirty play and not face some retribution?
Brian: No question the NHL has consistency issues when it comes to punishment but I'm not sure I buy that argument because if it's a guy like Matt Cooke on Mike Green he's likely approaching it differently. I initially thought it could have been a major penalty but looked again and while Ovechkin does stick his knee out a bit it's not a deliberate attempt to take him out (at least I don't think it is). And the league does take past action into account and Ovechkin has no history of intent to injure so I don't think it's the NHL giving Ovechkin a break I think they assessed this one on the money.
Hey Scott, Thanks for all your coverage on the Pens-Caps. What are your thoughts on the Penalty calls? Do you think they are really lopsided or is it just the Caps are commiting more penalties? I've heard alot of whining about bad Refs.
Chris; Thanks. What I loved about Game 5 was the fact just four minor penalties including the one in overtime. Were the teams playing with more discipline or was the game called differently? Probably a bit of both. I was surprised the Caps spent as much time earlier in the series - when they were leading by the way - complaining about the calls. In general I think the calls have been just and a lot of it comes from the Penguins controlling the play and forechecking the Caps into taking penalties.
Scott,not to sound harsh if I do, but have the Blackhawks made writers and analysts kind of shut up about being the youngest team in the league?
David; I think it's understandable to have been skeptical of the 'Hawks' chances this spring. (I can say this having picked them to win the first two rounds.) Look at the Pens two springs ago and they were overwhelmed by a superior Ottawa team that had loads of experience. I think what is most impressive about the 'Hawks being on the verge of going to the Western Conference final is that they have fallen behind often but never quit, they never look to the next game and as a result have managed to win games I'm sure both Calgary and Vancouver felt they were going to win. They are full value for being where they are.
I complain way too much. Calls always go against us and my Ducks have never done anything wrong.
Randy; Don't get down. Lots of coaches suffer from the same malady.
which move do you feel was better for the game...removing the 2 line pass or installing the hex behind the goal line?
Brennen; I like the red line being removed. Don't like the hex at all.
Say the Wings and Hawks meet in the Western Conf. Finals...how much of an impact would a person like Scotty Bowman have on the game planning for Chicago?
Chuck, I think it would be significant. Bowman knows the Wings inside and out - obviously - and I know Mike Babcock spoke often to Bowman during the playoffs the last couple of years. But that kind of information or his presence isn't going to make the difference in the series. You're just glad you have it.
Varlamov has been playing great thus far in the playoffs, but it reminds me of Carey Price from last year. Rookie goalie in the playoffs for the first time starting to crack. Would attribute this to the Pens continuous pressure or the rookie starting to feel the pressure of the playoffs?
Brendan; I'm not sure Varlamov has really cracked. He had an off night in Game 4 but was pretty good in Game 5 and the Pens really enjoyed a healthy edge in shots and puck possession after the first half of the first period. I was impressed that he was as good as he was so quickly on the heels of his first off night of the post-season. We'll see tonight what he brings to the table.
Has the Caps/Pens series lived up to the hype?
Tyler; Absolutely. The series will go at least six games, there's been tremendous shifts in momentum, great goaltending, controversey. Ovechkin and Crosby have put on a clinic and Malkin responsded to criticism with a couple of big games. Two overtimes, five one-goal games so far. How often do games/series/players get hyped and then there's lunchbag letdown? Not in this one.
Hi Scott, I have noticed you haven't mentioned Backstrom a lot in your game previews. What gives? The guy is 4th in playoff scoring and ahead of etc Semin.
Tobias; Nothing personal against Backstrom. I think outside Ovechkin he's been their best player and has shown he's the real deal when the games have become increasingly important. Can't wait to see him in Vancouver next year at the Olympics.
There has been some talk on this board about the younger teams in these playoffs; how do you think the wings stack up over the next few seasons?
Simon; The Wings are the greybeards of the proceedings compared to the 'Hawks, Pens and Caps, that's for sure. Yet they really aren't that old (except for Chris Chelios of course) and are the kind of team that will always deliver one or two surprises like Jonathan Ericsson et al. How about the playoff Jiri Hudler is having? In short, the Wings won't be going anywhere soon.
Which match up do you think would make the biggest buzz for the stanley cup finals
Well, judging by the television ratings a year ago I think a Pittsburgh/Detroit re-match would work out pretty well. Of course that has nothing to do with the fact that's what I predicted at the start of the post-season. Not that it's all about me. Really.
so you have to have a history of being a dirty player to draw a suspension ?
Eric; No. It's always a factor, though, just like habitual offenders are treated differently in the court system.
Scott who wins each game tonight and why?
Ben; Lots of calls for my take on tonight's game here in Pittsburgh. I'm 0-1 after the Caps win last Monday night. Pens 4 Caps 3.
Why does Barry Melrose refer to you as Scott Dankside?
Pat; Must be a faulty teleprompter.
what do my sharks do this offseason to get rid of the marleau, thronton, and nabakov?
Sal; I don't think there would be any problem in dealing any of those cornerstone players. I think the question is in choosing which to try and move in the hopes of creating the right mix/chemistry in the Sharks room. I'm guessing Patrick Marleau makes the most sense on a number of levels.
Who wins game 6 in Raleigh?
I'm on a roll now. Boston 5 'Canes 3
A Pens/Wings rematch would definitely draw, but how about Detroit/Washington? Ovechkin would have his turn in the spot light this time around. Sergei Fedorov vs his old team. Ovie/Semin/Green v. Datsyuk/Zetterberg/Franzen/Hossa/Lidstrom. Heck, Wings vs. anyone would be a draw. Original 6: Detroi v Boston. I just realized that if Detroit makes it to the Finals, if they play anyone other then Boston it's a rematch from years past: Pittsburgh ('08), Carolina ('02), Washington ('98). I have to belive they have played the Bruins for the Cup before too.
Jeff; I can honestly say I think any of the match-ups involving any of the four remaining Eastern Conference teams and anyone but Vancouver in the Western Conference would be dynamic and would have great storylines. The Canucks? They are trying to suck the life out of that series with their style of play. New Jersey west. I know that's what Alain Vigneault's got to work with but fans everywhere should be cheering for the Blackhawks to close that one out.
Do the Hawks close the series out tonight?
Daryl; Yes. Chicago 4 Vancouver 1 What are the chances that I am 0-4 in game predictions when we reconvene next Monday? Sadly, high.
Tell me you're not dying to see Lucic get his hands on Walker and show him what a real fight feels like?
Lucic has had his problems with playing inside the whistles this spring and I suspect Game 6 will be another test. But to answer your question, yes.
If pittsburgh wins this series who will be the tougher opponent and why?
Jason; I think both Carolina and Boston would be dangerous. The Bruins are probably more physical on the back end with Chara and they can roll three dangerous lines. The 'Canes are more like the Penguins, creative, speedy, more offensive oomph from the back end. Cam Ward in goal has been there which would be a big factor.
patrick marleau, if he goes, a king?
Tony; The Kings are one of the few teams with tons of dough to spend and are anxious to make a splash with some top-end offensive help in the hopes of jumping back into the playoff fray. Might be a nice fit for Marleau there.
If the Bruins win game 6 do you see any way they could lose a Game 7 after all that has gone in this series.
Jon; I thought there was no way the Caps would lose Game 7 last year when they came back from 3-1 in that series. And they did. In overtime. Ouch. The one thing about the 'Canes as the Devils learned is they never take a knee. Game 7 would be a dandy. I'd take the Bruins but it'd be a nail-biter.
Which is more fun/not boring for you to answer: Questions about the playoffs or questions about the off-season?
Frank; Love 'em all. Sure beats work don't you think?
Scott, Is Brashear really not going to play tonight? I think he would help the pace for the Caps because he slows down the other team. What do you think?
Colin; Bruce Boudreau didn't sound optimistic that he'd be using Brashear even though his suspension is up. I agree it's a tough spot for a guy to come into a series without having played a lick and try and make an impact without taking a stupid penalty or two. I'd be amazed if he's in the line-up.
If the Canes were to go on and win the cup, do Jussi Jokenin's clutch goals (again and again) outweigh Staal's sheer quantity as far as playoff MVP is concerned?
Loup; Good question. When it comes time to vote on Conn Smythe it's about the body of work in the playoffs but it's also about timely impact; winning goals, overtime play, timely saves. It'll be a nice thing for 'Canes fans to debate if it happens, no?
Okay folks, time to head to Mellon. Thanks as always for the questions and for keeping me honest. Enjoy tonight's games. See you Monday.