Hello all, greetings from the bowels of Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh completely lost their heads in the second period Saturday night. Talbot's slash on Datsyuk's foot was one of the most gutless things I have ever seen on the ice. That said, what Penguins teams comes out tomorrow night? The one that plays exceptionally well at home, or the one that got absolutely dominated when Datsyuk came back?
Blair; That's the 64-dollar question, no? We've seen both teams look out of sorts in the last two games, the Pens much worse of course in Game 5. Have to believe they'll be better tomorrow night. Just not sure if it will be enough.
If by chance the wings lose the series, what do you think will happen to hossa? Will the wings keep him or will he want to leave?
Brandon; I don't think the outcome of this series will have any bearing on whether Hossa stays or goes. I think a long-term deal is in place and will be signed in the off-season before July 1.
Scott, do you think Talbot should have received a suspension for chopping Datsyuk, and the way after the play, chopping Holmstrom while on the way to the box?
Rich; Given the way the NHL has handled its discipline this spring you pretty much have to commit a felony to get a suspension so I think Talbot's chop was appropriately handled.
What is your opinion of the Flower as a championship caliber goalie? I'm not sure I believe he has the consistency that a team really needs to lean on in a tight playoff series like this. Goalies take time to develop, but it's not as if MAF hasn't been here before. Do I expect too much?
Toot; I think we're going to find out a lot about Marc-Andre Fleury Tuesday night. He has been good but not grreat in this series and he'll need to be great to keep the Pens' chances alive. I think he has it in him but whether it gets out will be another question.
If the Wings sign Hossa, who is out? Hudler and Samuelsson? Who replaces them?
PJ: Look for Samuelsson, an unrestricted free agent, will be gone. Hudler is a homegrown prospect and I think he'll stay.
Scott - What do you think lead to the breakdown that was the Penguins during Game 5?
Stasia; Great question. I don't even know if the Pens know why they lost their collective minds in Game 5. But playing against really good teams will do that, exposes your flaws very quickly, and that can lead to a lot of frustration. They'll have to be a lot better Tuesday or it's all over.
Scott, given that Datsyuk's return seems to have either shaken up the Pens or given the Wings another gear in their game, who do you think will benefit more from the couple days off? The Wings to get healthy and rested, especially Datsyuk, or the Pens in finding a way to neutralize him in their arena?
Brian; I think the two days off is a big boost to the Wings. It gives guys like Datsyuk and Nicklas Lidstrom extra time to heal and rest. The Penguins had a full off day yesterday but are still being reminded of Game 5 today instead of getting ready to play tonight with a normal schedule.
Does Hossa finally have a break out game Tuesday and score?
Jackson; Wouldn't that be the great irony if Hossa breaks out with a couple in Game 6 and then gets to skate around with the Cup. Could happen although it's a bit strange he's been nowhere near the force he was a year ago when he was a Penguin.
Scott, I've been seeing everywhere that Malkin or Crosby should be the MVP. Now I'm a Red Wings fan, but I just can't see the logic in either of them. Malkin wouldn't score so much if Datysuk hadn't been hurt, and Crosby would still have only 1 point if Babcock hadn't juggled his lines a bit in game 4. If the Pens (God forbid) win, I could see Fluery winning the Conn Smythe, but not Crosby or the cheap shot specialist/dirty player Malkin. What do you and the boys at ESPN think?
David; I will be shocked if Chris Osgood isn't the Conn Smythe Trophy winner if the Wings win Tuesday. If it's Game 7 regardless I think you have to consider either Crosby or Malkin in the mix given their performance throughout the spring. There is a temptation to consider only the final series in this but it the trophy is for MVP of the entire playoff year.
What do you think Rod Brind'Amour's status will be next season? Retired, back close to his old form, or struggling again?
Richard; I expect Brind'Amour will be back next season. He wasn't his old self but who among us is? Look for better days for the heart and soul of the 'Canes.
Scoot after the pens lost in game 5 and how bad it was, do you think they will come out and play even harder and better in game 6.
Dakota; I expect a very close game Tuesday. In spite of their lack of discipline I don't see that as being a recurring theme given their make-up.
Don't you think Zetterburg should get strong consideration too for MVP? He's leading the Wings in points and his defense on Crosby has been great.
Jim; Definitely. I think his play on both sides of the puck has been terrific. He's a great player. Just think that Osgood has been so steady all spring and his play at home, especially in the final, has been out of this world.
Scott, has the NHL discussed a plan to prevent me from continuing to blatantly cheat the salary cap with these inflated long-term contracts for Zetterberg, Franzen and soon to be Hossa. Only a handful of teams can afford to essentially pay a player NOT to play at the end of his deal just to keep his camp number down now. How is that competitive balance?
Ken, as you well know there is nothing in the CBA to prevent you from signing guys to 32 year deals to keep the cap hit down. Look for that loophole to be closed when the next agreement is being considered. By then, you'll have a whole mantel full of Stanley Cup hardward.
Does Chelios finally retire after this year? He has been a healthy scratch a lot lately.
Raul; Hard to imagine the ageless one won't finally call it quits. Watch for him to find a home in Chicago with the Blackhawks and a role with the U.S. Olympic team in Vancouver. Got to figure the playing days are at a close, though.
Any word on what is happening down in Phoenix? Any chance at all that Balsillie gets the franchise?
Scott; Waiting for tomorrow's ruling, if it comes tomorrow. But I am doubtful that Balsillie gets what he wants this time. Will there be a second team in Southern Ontario? I think it's inevitable. And Balsillie may actually get a team but not until he learns not to tick off everyone connected with the league.
Scott, How long do you see Osgood staying in Detroit? Do the Wings finally bring Howard in next year? I just don't see Jimmy being the really good goalie the Wings would want to take over for Osgood.
Jon; Agreed. Not sure that Jimmy Howard is the answer when Osgood is gone after his deal ends after 2010-2011. Watch for the Wings to come up with the goaltending version of Henrik Zetterberg, though. They always seem to be able to plug their holes.
Heard an interview with Chelios the other day where he said he would like to keep playing (of course it takes two to tango) and that it would be very hard to leave Michigan with his son starting at MSU. Do you see Scott Niedermayer coming back with the Ducks? And if so, do they try to trade Pronger?
Brian; I would be surprised if Scott Niedermayer didn't come back. He played well and the Ducks managed to re-tool on the fly. Plus there's the Olympics in Niedermayer's home province of British Columbia and he's a virtual lock to make the team. If he comes back watch for GM Bob Murray to try and move Pronger, perhaps at the draft in Montreal.
Goaltending version of Henrik Zetterberg? You mean Thomas McCollum?
Hey Scott!! In an interview after the game on Thursday, Maxime Talbot said that he was going after the puck when he chopped Datsyuk's feet (When the puck was clearly out of his reach unless he were to pull out a 10' stick lol). While I'm not too worked up about the chop, what bothers me is that to me it comes across as an insult to the fan when you are that blind to your own actions. I'd rather him just said "no comment". Any thoughts?
Good point Logan. I was there when he said it and it seemed more than a little disingenuous. But I never get too jazzed for a 'no comment'. I think everyone knew what the chop was about. A good thing Datsyuk didn't suffer any kind of setback.
What do you see the score being in tuesday's game?
Tricia; A couple of factors. First, most of the reporting corps want to go home. Second I have been wrong on a significant percentage of these one-game predictions (better on series outcomes, go figure.) so I will say; drumroll Red Wings 3 Penguins 2
Scott, I have to strongly disagree with you on Talbot. Brashear was suspended for 5 games for a body check and a blatant slash to a player's legs by Talbot is swept under the rug. How about a little consistency from the League?
Well, I think you have to look at the outcome which I know the NHL does. Brashear broke a man's orbital bone with a sucker punch and for mixing it up in warm-up. The NHL doesn't like that much. The fact Datsyuk didn't miss a shift suggests the right call I think.
What moves do you see the Bruins doing this off season? Fernandez is most likely out, as is Sturm, but who will take them?
Jon; There aren't many free agent goalies so I am sure Fernandez, who put up good numbers in Boston, will find a home if he wants to come back. I see he's waffling on his earlier comments that maybe he was done. The Bruins will look at beefing up the blue line but that's a tall order if you're thinking a guy like Jay Bouwmeester. I doubt they'll be doing much of a major nature.
Scott, Please Answer. Why do so many people hate the penguins? Not much complaining on boards when crosby was blatenly chopped in pittsburgh last week. Now Datsyuk is chopped and every penguin should be suspended.
Matt: I think emotions always run high with elite players. Lots of people carped about Wayne Gretzky for his perceived whining etc. And you're right, the Maltby hack on Crosby was about the same as Crosby's on Zetterberg.
Are you surprised that the best players have been mixing it up? I mean the Malkin-Zetterberg fight has to be one of the most unexpected fights in Stanley Cup history.
Joey; I think it just speaks to the emotion of the moment. How about Miroslav Satan (fists of fury) battling Patrick Eaves in the east final? Or the granddaddy of star fights, Vincent Lecavalier and Jarome Iginla tangling in the '04 final. I think it's great to see frankly. No one's going through the motions out there that's for sure.
That slash by Talbot is exactly why we get the upper body/lower body injury description. Players can't be trusted. Where's the respect?
Erik; Excellent point. No different, I suspect, than football players going after an opponent's shoulders or knee or ankle if they know it's a way to slow him down.
Pavel, broken foot or no?
Peter; Don't know. But I am always amazed at what players will play with and then admit to after like the guys from the Bruins who had surgery after losing to Carolina, etc. etc. So wouldn't surprise me at the end of this to hear he has a fracture of some kind.
Scott, bigger story in game 6? Datsyuk or Fleury?
Fleury. Wonder if Datsyuk will take a step back (if you'll pardon the pun) in his second game back.
Can Lucic sue the NHL for his suspension citing the lack of suspension to Malkin for the exact same play?
Scott; Good point and agreed that finding a way to discipline players that doesn't appear as though they've pulled the decision from the bottom of a hat should be a priority.
Think more players will go abroad/stay abroad to play like Fedorov?
Matt: I think the KHL will continue to be a good option for players, especially European players, who are at the end of the NHL line. I still don't see the KHL as being able to attract any/many front-line players. It's likely a good thing as the opportunities for young players may increase with more veterans taking the bigger paychecks in Russia or the other elite leagues.
If the Wings win tomorrow: when was the last time a team closed out the Cup finals in the other teams house 2 years in a row? Against the same team?
Kerry; funny, just looked this up in the press room here at Mellon; 1977 and 1978 when the Habs beat Boston in Boston in four and six games.
The home team has held serve in every game this series. Why do you feel Detroit will break through tomorrow? And if the Wings don't win tomorrow, how can the Penguins break through on Friday? Can the Washingoton finale give them reason to hope?
Pete; Just a feeling. And if the Washington/Pittsburgh Game 7 illustrates, truly anything can happen when it's winner take all.
Any thoughts on the Toronto Legacy team? Will Toronto actually have 2 teams?
Mark; Think the Legacy might as well be called the Faint Hopes. But, yes, think there will be a second team in Toronto at some point.
Scott? If team revenue is tied to the salary cap, then teams like the Coyotes are effectively contributing to a falling cap. Why can't Bettman then just admit failure and let the team move to a better hockey market where revenue would be better?
Jon; Lots of people agree with you. I think the NHL first wants to make sure everything has been tried before pulling up stakes. It's not an easy thing for a community to lose a team and it's bad for any league to see teams jump around; damages credibility. Remember the Coyotes have been pretty much junk on the ice every year since arriving in the desert. Let's see what happens when they're good and then if it's still empty back up the moving trucks.
If Hossa scores a game winning goal in game 6 will there be a more hated player in Penns history?
Brodie; He'll certainly rival Adam Graves.
They say tension is bad for performance because it hinders one's fluidity and flexibility (like in golf). Do you think that applies to hockeyin the Cup Finals?
Tommy; Players seem to like a little tension in their system. Talked to Pens today about the fear that will come with playing tomorrow night. Most like it at least a little.
Okay folks. Must turn attention to copy so my boss doesn't have to stay up half the night wading through it. Next time we chat we may have another if not new Stanley Cup champ. Thanks as always.