Greetings and salutations. Pardon my tardiness. A bit of a hectic day driving from Detroit to Pittsburgh. Carry on.
Why is it every year you doubt the Red Wings yet they still own the Penguins?
Evan; Fair question although I think eight games hardly qualifies as a deep sample. But you're right. Picked the Pens two years in a row. Might have to stop drinking the Kool-Aid although the last time I checked they still have to win all four.
What is with all the favoritism towards the Penguins from most notably NBC, but you guys here at ESPN as well? No one seems willing to give the Wings credit, they just take it away from the Penguins.
Steve; Not sure that's fair. My colleague Pierre LeBrun has been giving lots of love to the Wings this playoff year. Witness his fine profile on Chris Osgood.
What do you think of the NHL's preferential treatment towards the Malkin instigator penalty?
Brad; Sadly it's not just Malkin and the league's handling of the instigator penalty. If you recall Scott Walker sucker-punching Aaron Ward at the end of a game the Bruins had clearly in hand. Walker was given the same penalty that Malkin received last night but got the same treatment, a rescinding of the one-game suspension. It's a joke. Every time Colin Campbell does this he undermines his officials who make the call on the ice. If you're going to have this rule - and I like it - suck it up and let the suspension stand.
Scott, Is Taveres still the consensus number 1 or has Matt Duschene creaped into the discussion?
Brian, I will still be shocked if the New York Islanders don't take John Tavares with the number one pick but Hedman, Duchene, Schenn will all be in the mix. Watch for the Leafs to try and sneak into the top couple of picks with the hopes that the Isles will take Hedman the big Swedish defenseman leaving Tavares to become a Leaf. Should be fun regardless.
Say the Wings win - who wins the Conn Smythe? Could it really be Osgood?
Chris; My vote, right now, goes to Chris Osgood. Not even close. Go figure, eh?
The Wings seem to be in the heads of Crosby and Malkin. Your thoughts?
I'm not sure whether the Wings' are in their heads or that they're in their own heads, if you know what I mean. No question some frustration on the part of the Pens' big stars after failing to convert on some glorious chances in the first two games.
I heard that Bettman said the Penguins are the NHL's model franchise. Thoughts on that?
Scott; I think maybe what you heard was commissioner Gary Bettman talking about the Penguins being the model for a team that had to go through tough times (ie. being bankrupt) and turned itself around. In terms of model franchises not sure you need to look any further than Detroit for that label.
do you think that Malkin getting into it with Zetterberg is a positive thing (like I do), in that it shows the emotion that Pittsburgh lacked in last years SC Final?
Eric; interesting point. Pretty fine line between being emotional and blowing your stack. One thing, for those who remember Malkin being a passenger during last year's final, well, he's in the engineer's cab now. Pens' fans better hope he doesn't over-stoke the firebox, though. Still, agree with you that seeing the emotion from all of those top players is great drama.
I think the rest of the Penguins might be getting in Crosby and Malkin's heads too - they set up a few of their teammates to half open nets that yielded no results.
Dan; Good point and no question a little more finish by the Pens and this series looks a whole lot different. But that's the business, right, got to close the deal with the Cup on the line and the Wings are doing it while the Pens aren't.
Scott, why wasn't a penalty shot called either time that Zetterberg covered the puck in the crease during game one or two. The rule is pretty straight forward and they even reviewed one and did not call it. What is the deal?
Gregg; I'm not sure the officials can use the review to call a penalty shot but rather I think they were looking to see if there was evidence the puck crossed the line under Henrik Zetterberg. Agree that one could have been called in Game 1 when Zetterberg put his hand on the puck which had inexplicably ended up on Osgood's back in the crease. Watched the replay a couple of times and not sure, though, if it was that cut and dried. Crazy plays, though, both of them.
Scott, do you see the Flyers going out this offseason and making a deal for a goalie like Luongo, Price, or maybe even Tim Thomas? They have the arsenal of forwards to make this move, but it seems like Holmgren wants to keep the youngsters in the fold.
Corey; I thought at the end of the first round we'd probably seen the last of Martin Biron in a Flyers' jersey but there aren't a lot of guys available unless Paul Holmgren is going to take a run at Nikolai Khabibulin - doesn't strike me as being his kind of guy. Carey Price is interesting given that the Habs will be re-tooling with so many unrestricted free agents (10 I think) and Price's uncomfortable relationship with the fans in Montreal. Could be something there and Price would look pretty good in Flyer orange.
Scott thanks for the time. I was wondering your feelings about Malkin at the end of the game nice to see some fire in him atleast. Also, any news on Jay Bou from floridad and where he is going? thanks
Sean: My pleasure. The end of Game 2 I think just reflects the emotion in play here. The Pens realize they let a great opportunity slip by. As for Jay Bouwmeester. Was on a conference call today with Bill Torrey and other Panther types after Jacques Martin jumped ship and took the head coaching job in Montreal. Torrey, who will hire the new Florida GM, will, along with assistant GM Randy Sexton, talk to Bouwmeester and his agent about returning but I think that is a long, long shot. Look for the Panthers to try and trade Bouwmeester's rights at the draft.
Given the number of gamewinning goals, why could not Franzen be considered for the Conn Smythe? Although I agree that Osgood deserves should the Wings win.
Peter; Welcome from Stockholm. Are you pumped about the Wings visiting next fall, perhaps with the Cup in tow? As for Franzen, agreed, he will be in the mix if the Wings win and win quickly but right now think Osgood is the Conn Smythe man.
Scott - Any thoughts on when we might see Datsyuk back?
Tim; At the rate this series is going look for him on a float at the Stanley Cup parade in about a week. Seriously, his foot is not healing very quickly and I would be surprised to see him in this series unless it goes six or seven and perhaps not even then.
Scott, thanks for the time today. I was hoping for a 7 game series in the finals, and feel a little cheated with the marginal officiating at crucial times. Yes, refs make mistakes, just like players, but seriously, these are massively game-changing and series altering missed calls. Thoughts?
Hello Gazelle; How do you feel about the Coyotes bolting town? As for the referees, the one call I wondered about in Game 2 was Marian Hossa who appeared to chop Pascal Dupuis's stick in half which should have been an automatic penalty. Talked to a colleague of mine who insists the stick was broken on it's own and Dupuis tried to sell the call. I talked to Dupuis who insisted after Hossa chopped it in half. The Wings scored on the play so that one had a huge impact on the game.
If you were a betting man, would you bet on Phoenix staying put?
Joe; Been known to place a wager or two in my day. I would guess the Coyotes stay at least temporarily. If they go it'll be at the league's discretion, at least that's what they're hoping. Don't see the bankruptcy judge essentially throwing the NHL's bylaws, and by extension, the bylaws of all pro sports leagues, out the window on this one.
Scott, do you like the penguins chances any better at home? considering the wings haven't played their best game yet and were without datsyuk, I can't see this series going more than 5
Rob; I didn't like the Penguins' chances when they were down 2-0 to Washington coming home. And they gave up the first goal on the first shot of the game in both those and still found ways to win. You're right the Wings may not have been the better team for periods of time in Games 1 and 2 but they sure do find a way to get it done. Would it surprise me to see the Pens win Game 3 as they did a year ago, no? Can they even it with two straight at home, tall order as the Wings smell blood.
What was the best playoff matchup this year? ducks vs Wings or Washington vs Pitt?
Dave; Loved them both but they were completely different in style. Had the good fortune to cover the Washington/Pittsburgh series and I think seeing guys like Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin bring their 'A' game pretty much every night, not to mention a rookie goaltender like Simeon Varlamov very nearly steal that series, was pretty compelling.
Thanks for the time Scott. If the Wings win the Cup, do you see Hossa wanting to stay long term for less money? Or because he would have won his Cup, bolt and look for a huge contract in the summer?
Jordan; Someone asked who the top free agents will be this summer and Hossa will be one of them. His playoff performance has only been so-so this spring and there is the issue of the likelihood the salary cap will drop significantly in 2010-2011 so there may not be as many big-number, long-term offers for Hossa. Wouldn't surprise me to see him stay in Detroit maybe for a couple of years at less than market value.
If Draper is healthy for game 3, do you put him in for his defensive-zone faceoff prowess and his veteran leadership? Who would he replace? Leino?
Chris; I think Kris Draper is healthy enough to go now and in fact GM Ken Holland told Pierre LeBrun that last night. But with the Wings rolling and the kids playing so well I doubt if head coach Mike Babcock is going to make any changes until the Penguins win one or two.
Scott, would it be better if byslma put malkin on the same line as zetterburg or leaving crosby on, since that matchup has been proven to subdue crosby to this point?
Emily; Dan Bylsma alluded today to maybe trying to get Crosby away from Zetterberg although there have been enough chances through the first two games to suggest it's more about cashing in than getting away from a specific match-up.
So will I be calling the Bell Centre my home arena next October or what?
Vincent; Possibly although I'm wondering how you feel about the Staples Center?
Seems to me the redwings are so successful because their 3rd and 4th line guys know their role. Pitt has a skill guy like Staal as a 3rd line center. Is he supposed to score? With those wingers? Defensive stopper? Way too much skill. Seems to not be the best use of his skills.
Erik; When the Penguins were successful in the first three rounds they were getting solid efforts if not actual offensive production out of Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke. They are being out-played by guys like Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm and Ville Leino. That's not how it should shake down on paper.
Just how hurt is Lidstrom? He's been doing a phenomenal job on Crosby, but his minutes seem down.
Pete: Actually Lidstrom has been among the ice time leaders through the first two games but it still looks to me like he's laboring a bit. Gutsy performance, though, as he had another terrific game in Game 2.
What do you think the ceilings are for Helm, Ericsson, Abelkader, Leino?
Steve; Hard to say given that they've played so little. But Ericsson is the real deal I think and Helm, if he can develop some touch around the net will be a valuable commodity for a long time. The fact these players aren't being rushed, have played significant minutes in important situations at the minor league level is a big part of their ability to succeed in such a pressure-packed environment here in the finals.
Scott, yes or no... Should the Malkin suspension have stood up?
Logan; The rule is the rule, or it should be. He should be out.
Scott,Do you give any credibility to Jeremy Roenick's claims about Babcock hating Chris Chelios? And will we see Chelios at all this series? Are the wings simply too deep or is Chelli simply too old?
Tom: No, don't buy the JR comments. And whether Babcock liked Chelios or not would have no bearing on whether he ends up in the line-up. Babcock likes to win too much. As for seeing Chelios, not until parade time.
How do you see these two teams progressing next season: with Detroit being a year older, Pitt being a year wiser? Will Detroit need to startincreasing minutes for all the talented youngsters?
Kerry; I think you're seeing what the Wings will look like next year with guys like Leino, Abdelkader, Helm, Ericsson shouldering a big burden. They're going to be scary good again. Pens? Likely no Satan and no Fedotenko which means the hunt for talented wingers for Malkin and Crosby will be renewed by GM Ray Shero.
Do you think Lindstrom will retire at the end of his contract in two years?
Gabi; I think a lot has to do with his health. This has been a difficult playoff year for him. I think in two years calling it a day might look pretty attractive to Lidstrom.
Scott, You've been to both buildings; which crowd is louder?
Logan; Depends on the night. Thought the Mellon Arena crowd was surprisingly pedestrian against Carolina. Thought Joe Louis was loud last night and expect the Penguins' fans to bring it tomorrow. Both are older, smaller buildings which makes things seem louder than the newer, cavernous barns.
With the Red Wings success over the past decade and considering their more European style of play, are other teams taking notice and moving in the same direction? Is this the future of the NHL?
Steve; Whichever team wins that's what other teams will try and emulate. After the Ducks bruised their way to a Cup win in 2007 lots of teams went big and physical but it only works if you've got enough scoring punch to go with the size and dedicated penalty killers to kill off all the penalties. Neither Pittsburgh nor Detroit are particularly bruising but they are physical and have players who will play a gritty game. All championship teams need that so it's not just a matter of finding 13 skilled forwards and voila you have the Wings or Pens.
How long is the drive from Detroit to Pittsburgh?
Tim; 4 1/2 hours although that includes some periods of time where the posted speed limit is not necessarily adhered to.
Will Osgood make it into the HoF?
Corn; If he adds a fourth Cup ring this spring I say start working on the plaque.
Scott, how many speeding tickets have you eluded because of who you are?
Adam; I have learned that not one single Ohio State trooper cares a whit about who I am. Which makes sense.
Is Mike Babcock the best coach in the NHL right now? Do you think he gets overlooked for the Jack Adams because the Wings are in it every year?
Tony; That's such a hard question. It's like asking who the best player is because so much depends on the environment in which he plays. No question Babcock is as good a coach as there is. Coaching a good team means it's harder to get recognition than if you get more out of a lousy team. People assume it's easy to coach talent like Babcock's got. It's not. It might be harder because everyone wants something more. The fact he's back here for a second straight year suggests there are few better.
Thanks again folks. Wonder if we'll have a series to discuss next week or if we'll be on to free agency, draft and awards talk. Adieu.