Hello Hockey fans; One week from now I will be in Stockholm anticipating the start of the NHL regular season. Bring it on, say I, your humble servant. And your questions.
Scott, the red wings just finished training camp here in Traverse City few weeks ago and there young talent is just amazing. How do kenny holland and Jim D manage to get so much talent and are able to build up players like Pavel Datsuk< Zetterburg and Franzen?
Josh; That Traverse City gathering has become quite the pre-season must-see event. Hope to get there next year. And had the chance to talk to GM Kenny Holland today for a season preview and was reminded again about not just the great job of identifying talent (remember, the Wings never draft anywhere near the head of the draft class) but their patience. The guys who are expected to step in this year, ville Leino, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, have all had experience in the AHL. I think that's why they're so much more likely to succeed when they do get a chance and a lot of them are going to get a chance this season.
Outside of Tavares, who are the other Calder candidates to look for? My fellow BU alum Gilroy is looking pretty good thus far in the preseason.
Craig; Matt Gilroy might be a dark horse as will Tyler Bozak in Toronto but there are a lot of possibilities. Victor Hedman apparently looks great in Tampa. And here in Atlanta they are pretty pumped about Evander Kane, the fourth overall pick in the June draft. Sometimes the college kids don't get as much recognitiion as they should when it comes to the Calder but perhaps this year will be the year.
who is going to replace Kessel's 36 goals this year/ was it a huge mistake for Boston to let him go? Seems like they never were too high on him from the start.
lexie; I'm sure GM Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the Bruins faithful are wondering the same thing but the nice thing is this is a Boston team that has developed nice depth throughout its line-up. It's not like they lost the key component to what was a top-ranked offense a year ago. And you're right, Kessel didn't really fit in on a number of levels, philosophically (ie. he didn't particularly get along with head coach Claude Julien) and stylistically and in the end financially. It will be interesting to see how he rebounds from shoulder surgery and then fits in with Ron Wilson in Toronto, a guy who's never shy about unloading on his players either privately or publicly.
Why are so many "experts" down on the Rangers this year? I understand that the team is quite different than last year and that they are not necessarily better. However, the criticism last year was their lack of an offensive punch so they signed Gaborik. If he gets hurt, they are basically the same talent-wise as last year.
Mickey: Well I would beg to differ. If Gaborik, who has already complained about tightness and is coming off surgery to try and correct hip/groin issues that cost him most of last season in Minnesota, cannot play a full slate at full speed the Rangers are a lot less dangerous than last year when they weren't dangerous at all. Scott Gomez is gone as is Paul Mara and Nikolai Zherdev. There are questions about depth down the middle and the blue line even if Gaborik is healthy. I think that's probably why many wonder if the Rangers will slip right out of the playoff picture this season.
What'd u think of the Phaneuf hit clean or too dirty for a preseason game?
joe; Wow, that was a big-time hit. By the books, legal, but a real dilemma for the NHLPA and NHL. Someone is going to take a blind-side hit like that and not get up. Or get up and never come back to the game. And that would be a shame. There's got to be a way to protect players from those kinds of blows to the head even if they are technically legal.
QUESTION TO SCOTT BURNSIDE AT 4.20PM HI SCOTT DETROIT OR BLACKHAWKS CENTRAL DIVISION CHAMPS
RayGordon Reid: Blackhawks by a hair.
What are your odds on Fleury completing the comeback to the NHL? Seems, so far so good based on SC highlights but I'm more interested in the expert observations. Does Calgary have room for a 41 year old or is this just way too good for both sides?
Rich; I must admit I remain skeptical. To me it doesn't say much if a guy who hasn't played since 2002-03 can jump back into the Flames' line-up. That said, if he makes it and keeps playing like he has in exhibition games, well, I'll be among the first beating a path to his door to glorify him.
Scott why do you dislike Mark Crawford? Big Stars fan who hope we can rebound this year. What do you think James Neal's upside is? B Morrow version 2? Thanks
Matt; Fair question given my negative take on Marc Crawford's hiring in Dallas. Probably more a function of my disagreement with the firing of Dave Tippett who remains, in my mind, one of the top coaches in the game. And frankly a look at Crawford's record for most of the last decade and it doesn't seem to warrant getting a job for which it appears no one else was interviewed. As for James Neal, big fan. Likewise Brenden Morrow who should make the Canadian Olympic team provided he can come back from knee surgery. Saw him in Calgary at the Canadian Olympic orientation camp and he's mighty motivated.
Does Johan Franzen hit the 50 goal mark this year? He had 11 shots against Buffalo the other day. Other than Ovechkin, who else should hit 50 goals this year?
Eric; Franzen is a freak of nature and as such, yes, could hit the 50-goal mark. More likely he will remain in that 40-goal range and of course about 32 of them will be game-winners. Go figure.
Hey Scott, you are my favorite hockey writer/analyst. We love Jonathan Cheechoo here in the Bay Area. The Sharks have been very successful, but seemed to have hit a wall. Do you think it was worth giving him up for Dany Heatley?
Craig; You are definitely on my holiday card list. As for Mr. Heatley, any guy who has the possibility of putting up 50 goals is always worth pursuing. And by keeping Patrick Marleau and giving up Milan Michalek and Jonathan Cheechoo the Sharks remain exceptionally deep down the middle. And frankly, probably time Cheechoo had a change of scenery. He should bounce back nicely in Ottawa where he'll get loads of power play and top six forward time at least at the beginning.
What's up with Detroits goaltending situation? Ozzie only plays 1/2 the games, so Holland is going to trust Jimmie Howard or Cloutier for 1/2 their games this year?
Josh; This is Jimmy Howard's big audition. If the Wings have their way he'll play 30 games. If he can't Ken Holland will be on the phone looking for the next Ty Conklin.
Do the wild have a fighting chance in the northwest?!?!
Jana; I thought new GM Chuck Fletcher would do more to bolster the offense but adding Petr Sykora whom he knows well from their time in Pittsburgh is a nice compliment to Martin Havlat. But durability is an issue for both players. Still, should be more fun than previous incarnations of Les Wild. In short, though, no, don't see them winning the division or making the playoffs.
How do the Blackhawks avoid a lull in their performance after they return from Finland?
AJ; Good question. The European experiment has been decidedly mixed in terms of how it affects teams. All four coaches who went last year got fired although the Pens did end up winning a Cup. I think the 'Hawks' youth and the nice steady hand of head coach Joel Quenneville will keep them from going off the rails when they get back from Finland.
where in the western standings will the Blues finish
Brad; I like the Blues to finish third in the Central and somewhere around 6th or 7th. If the Red Wings falter, though, they could nip at their heels and sneak into a fourth or fifth seed. That is all pending how many freakish, season-ending injuries the Blues sustain between now and Thanksgiving.
Do you think the Kings re-sign Frolov soon or do you think both parties wait to see how the year goes ? If the Kings are looking at another lottery pick they ship him off and if they are still in the hunt in Feb, they keep him ?
eugene; I think GM Dean Lombardi will want to keep Frolov in the fold and if the Kings do as many believe and become a playoff team it should be easier to accomplish. If the Kings look like a lottery team come trade deadline time there'll be a lot of deadwood over the side and you can bet there'll be changes aplenty on the management/coaching side of things shortly thereafter.
Hey Scott, do you think young guns like Stephen Weiss, Nathan Horton, and Michael Frolik will step up for the Panthers this year to lead them to the playoffs after such a close finish last year?
Brian T; Don't want to spoil the surprise but I think the Panthers break the playoff drought this year and the kids you mentioned will be the engine driving the Panther machine. (Whoever thought anyone would say Panther and machine in the same sentence?)
How good are the capitals do you see them winning the cup? what do they need to do to be perfect?
Nate: I think the Caps are good but that's not really going out on a limb. I think they need to play better team defense, take fewer penalties and sort out their goaltending. But they're not far away. It's going to happen, that Cup parade down Constitution Ave. just not sure when.
I think Lemaire makes a lot of sense in New Jersey for where that team is at this time. Why are you so negative about this decision?
Jason; I know everyone says Lemaire's reputation for defense first is overblown but you talk to players who play for him and he is so rigid that I think it stifles creativity and thus stifles the entertainment value of the game. Now maybe I'd feel differently if I was Lou Lamoriello. In fact had a chance to chat with Lou yesterday and was talking about how excited Lemaire is to be back in New Jersey. Nothing personal but I don't think it makes for a good product. That said, the Devils don't have all that much to work with offensively so I get why Lemaire was an attractive hire.
Scott, you don't seem too high on the Wings this year...What gives? Don't you agree that team-wide they still have the most talented team in the league? I can't believe you think Chicago will win the division this year...on what basis?
Mark; Not down on the Wings but realistic, I think. They lost 88 goals from their line-up and while they don't need to replace them all I am not sure they've got enough to keep from back-sliding a little. I've got them fourth in the conference. As for Chicago they may have the best defense in the NHL and while the goaltending is a bit of an issue no more so than the issues that will confront Detroit. Plus the addition of Marian Hossa and John Madden are nice compliments to a dynamic young offensive group.
Do you think Marty Turco can bounce back and help the Stars get into the playoffs?
Evan; I think Marty Turco can bounce back but I don't think the playoffs are in the cards. And given that Turco can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season I wouldn't be surprised to see him dealt before the trade deadline.
The Flyers seem to only have added tough guys in the past few months, will they be sunk again this year by penalties?
Thomas; I'm not sure I'd characterize Chris Pronger as just a tough guy but he sure is tough. But you are right on when asking about the penalties. One of the top teams in terms of taking minor penalties a year ago head coach John Stevens is working to dramatically cut that number. If he can the Flyers will have more chance to unleash what is a potent offense and either score more or draw more penalties.
Can Anaheim ever get a 40-goal scorer. any of their prospects stand out?
Albert: How about Ryan Getzlaf?
Hello Mr. Burnside, can you give an update on DiPietro's recovery. When will he play again, or will he? What do you expect from him?
Craig; DiPietro could be back in November which should create some interesting discussions around the Islander locker room given the acquisition of Dwayne Roloson and Martin Biron. Honestly, hard to know what to expect of a guy who has had multiple surgeries and played in just five games last season. Let's just say expectations are pretty low for DiPietro moving forward.
Saw the Wild vs Blackhawks last night. I think your underestimating the Wild. Havlat looked very good, notched a goal minute into the game. Their top line of Halvat, Koivu and Sykora will be as good as any in the league.
Luke; That's a bold statement. For the sake of the fans in the State of Hockey I hope you're right.
I'm late to the chat but has anyone asked you about the Okposo hit? I don't understand how the conversation is already dying out!
Brian; I did address it earlier but can add this update; NHL has suspended Pascal Morency for the rest of the exhibition schedule and the first five games of the regular season. A blow for the Morency faithful to be sure even if you have to tip your hat to him for coming to Okposo's aid.
Scott,How good can the revamped Ducks defense be? How good can Sbisa be this year ?
Marty; The Ducks are really interesting with a nice blend of youth and of course with Scott Niedermayer still playing like a kid. If Jonas Hiller continues the strong play he showed in the playoffs and J.S. Giguere can bounce back the Ducks are going to be very hard to play against and could push San Jose for the Pacific Division title.
Is there any hope for the AVs this season or do they just not have the talent that is any good?
Clint; Hope is a relative thing. Bottom line is the Avs are too thin just about everywhere to be a playoff team. Look for them to draw the number one pick in next June's draft.
There was an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review discussing Kunitz's goalless streaks. With him playing on a line with Crosby and Guerin, do you think he really needs to worry about scoring or keep providing the energy by doing the little things that get unnoticed by the stat sheet?
Tim; I think most folks around the Penguins would appreciate it if Kunitz chipped in a goal now and then. I figure him for 25 this year, though. And agree he does lots of small things that make him valuable.
give me ur top west and top east teams preseason?
dan; Like the Sharks, Chicago and Calgary as division winners in the west. Boston, Pittsburgh and Washington in the east.
who are going to be the bubble teams in the west?
aric; I think there are plenty of bubble teams, that's what makes it so interesting. I think Columbus will struggle to get back to the post-season, Minnesota, too. Like the Kings to sneak in but that's a big jump for them. In the east the entire conferenc is full of bubble teams. Too much change for Montreal and New York (Rangers) but I think Buffalo hangs in, Tampa, too as long as they stay healthy, and Florida. The problem, in the east especially, is that you may have six or eight points separating 5th from 12th.
Hi Scott!! Who you think will be Olympic champion this year? Can anyone stop Ovie, Malkin, and Datsyuk?
Jan; That tournament is going to be hair on fire hockey. Not sure the Russians have the defense to win it all but man will they be fun to watch. How about the pressure on the Canadians? And I like the Americans to come out of nowhere to medal. How's that for wishy-washy? Honestly, I think health of players at the time of the tournament will have a big impact on which of the four or five tops teams comes out on top.
Rumor has it Emery's "watch is a little slow in Philly too." If this is true, surprised? And what could that mean for the Orange and Black?
Noal; I hadn't heard that but Ray Emery is always going to be an interesting character otherwise he'd be like Jack Nicholson's character at the end of Cuckoo's Nest. Still, not a good way to make friends and influence neighbors if you're not on time. I still think he'll be fine once they drop the puck.
Is there any hangover with the Hawks regarding the whole mess with their GM over the off-season? Any chance that could derail the good thing they have going there?
David; Honestly, I don't think players really care all that much about any of that stuff. So, no.
Back to the Leafs and Kessel, how well do you think he will fit into the line on Toronto? How many goals do you figure him to get this year?
Greg; Big question mark coming back from shoulder surgery. He should still be good for 20 to 25 playing 60 games or so. Let's put it this way, he'd better be good for that.
Who looks like the most probable replacement for Marleau as the new captain for the Sharks?
Vincent; I'm guessing Dan Boyle. Maybe Rob Blake although Blake is likely good for just one more year.
Terrific season by the Bruins last year, do you see them falling off this year (from 116 pts) and slotted in the 3rd seed?
Jim; Maybe a bit of leakage in terms of points but still enough to finish at the top of the Northeast and have home ice through at least the first round.
Hey scott, you cant seriously think that the Hawks have a better D then the Wings...Lidstrom, Rafalski, Kronwall, Stuart...c'mon.
Austen; Seabrook, Keith, Barker, Hjalmarsson, Campbell. Pretty good group. With all due respect to the Wings' blue liners. Interesting stat, though; Wings were 20th in goals against per game last year, the 'Hawks 5th. Food for thought, no?
hola from mexico!who do you think will be having the better year this year? crosby or ovechkin?
Carlos; Greetings. And to you we give the final word. Define better? I like Ovechkin to win the Art Ross as scoring champ but figure Crosby for MVP honors. And I still think the Pens have the stuff to go further in the playoffs than the Caps. At least for one more year.
Thanks again for all your time. Don't know what our sked will be like next week when I'm in Stockholm but look forward to our next gathering whenever that might be. SB