So, where were we?
Should the Red Wings look outside the organization for help now that Franzen is out? If so, who would be a leading candidate?
Eric; That's not really the Wings' style nor does it fit their salary cap situation so I would guess that GM Ken Holland will look to guys from Grand Rapids to fill in on the third and fourth lines while guys like Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm who is getting ready to return get a chance at top six forward minutes.
Hi Scott. Just noticed that Colorado beat the Bruins today. So are the Avs good, or good coaching, and are the Bruins not as good as we thought?
Eric; Was watching quite a bit of that game and was impressed with the Avs up and down the ice. They could have folded when the Bruins tied the game at 2-2 after leading 2-0 but scored a quick one and were never really in 'hang on' mode. Who knew Joe Sacco could get so much out of so little so early in this season. He's the mid-October Jack Adams winner for sure.
How about them Rangers? Is Gaborik what the team needed?
Tim; How are things in Guam? Rangers look pretty darned good. As for Gaborik, as advertised, he has re-energized the Rangers' offense and with points in every game so far has been a roaring success. Can he keep it up? That's the 64-dollar question but the Rangers are an early surprise thanks in large part to Gaborik's efforts.
How bout them Kings? Is this the year Kopitar really breaks out and do people on the east even know who he is?
Ethan; Agreed. If they can hang on to their 2-0 lead against the Islanders they'll go to 4-1 and never mind Anze Kopitar how about Ryan Smyth. An assist this afternoon gives him eight points. Who knew those old bones had that kind of juice in them? But you're right, Kopitar has more support than ever before and he could be poised to jump into the top five in league scoring. And it's not the people in the east but rather do enough folks in L.A. know about Kopitar?
Wanted to get your take on Victor Hedman. He doesn't seem to be a nromal rookie D and seems to be a Norris trophy winner waiting to happen.
David; Pretty early to be talking Norris Trophy let alone rookie of the year honors but all reports out of Tampa suggest that Hedman is one of those special players. He seems to have moved seamlessly into NHL style hockey and is logging tons of minutes. As long as he doesn't get over-exposed and put in positions where he can't continue to learn and grow he's going to be a good one.
What do you think of Colombus blue line? When are we going to get a power play quarterback? Who might be available? I think everyone plays well but a little too one dimensional. I think we are close to being a solid 2nd tier team in the West.
Frank; I think the Blue Jackets have done a nice job getting off to a good start, building on last year's playoff run. True, no real PP quarterback on the back end although I'm curious to see how Fedor Tyutin evolves this year. Good player and will get lots of opportunity to help what was last year's worst power play unit. Outside help really isn't the Blue Jackets' way of doing things. Suppose if the Leafs continue to stink Tomas Kaberle might be coaxed into moving and Paul Martin will be an unrestricted free agent next summer although the Devils will be highly unlikely to move him. Best look inside that dressing room for help.
Who do you see the Hawks trading to try and clear cap space to re-sign the big three? Me thinks Barker or Versteeg. Also any chance they can dump Huet and get JS Giguere or Thomas Vokun?
Andrew; At some point something will have to give in Chicago contract-wise and I think you're right that Barker especially will garner lots of attention given the 'Hawks depth along the blue line. Huet's contract makes him hard to move and frankly Giguere and Vokoun don't really amount to upgrades and they both have big dollar contracts (although Giguere will be a UFA next summer).
Which rookie(s) have impressed you the most thus far?
Craig; Well not to be obvious but John Tavares and Victor Hedman have been terrific. The two defensemen in New York, Matt Gilroy and Michael Del Zotto have been good. James van Riemsdyk has also been impressive in Philly although he did suffer a minor head injury.
Do you think the Eastern conference is stronger this year and will the winner come from there?
Fuj; No. I still think there are more, better teams in the Western Conference. And I think teams like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Washington if they can get their defense fixed, will likely separate themselves quickly from the pack and the final six playoff spots will be contested by pretty ordinary teams. The west with Chicago, Detroit, Anaheim, San Jose, maybe the Kings, maybe St. Louis, maybe Vancouver, means the journey to the post-season is much more difficult.That said, I picked Pittsburgh to repeat as Cup champs. For what it's worth.
Scott, any news from Chicago about a more clear target return for Hossa? I've heard some grumblings about him being out now until late Decemeber...at earliest. Any truth to that?
Leeson; Last I checked with GM Stan Bowman he was hopeful of mid-November and I have heard nothing suggesting a set-back. Doesn't mean there won't be one but nothing that I've heard.
are the leafs really this bad?
Steve; As difficult as it might be to believe, yes, they are this bad. It's really not close as to the worst team in the league at this early juncture.
With Franzen's ACL tear is there any chance we could see the Red Wings bring back Shanahan?
Kyle; No. I would say zero chance of that happening.
Scott what's up with the Caps? Is someone going to stand up the Defense or what? Ouch it hurts to watch sometimes..
Bernard; I thought last year the Caps got a bad rap defensively and that they were actually better than how they were perceived. This year the perception is reality, at least early on. Can't hold leads, take too many penalties, and the forwards haven't been helping out which puts more pressure on the defensemen and goaltenders. I think the key is staying out of the box and improving the penalty kill which should allow the team to get into a better flow. Of course that was supposed to be fixed by the time the season started.
Have the Senators really surprised you, and can they compete in what seems to be a weak northeast?
Sprung; Yes, the Sens have looked good especially defensively and in goal. If Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliott can keep it up the Sens have a chance in the Northeast, especially with the Bruins struggling out of the gate. Offense hasn't really kicked in yet, which may turn out to be a problem.
No love for Tyler Myers in your impressive rookies answer?
Chris; Good call. He certainly will be in the running for tallest rookie at 6-foot-8.
Scott, who will score more goals this year, Ovechkin or the entire Devils team?
Jesse; Fair question. Like the Devils with an empty-netter in Game 82 to edge Ovie.
Alexander Semin = first line talent but the focus of a player that is a healthy scratch.....your thoughts?
Pat; Semin is one of those perplexing players that has all of the talent to be a top five player in the NHL in terms of production. But focus, commitment, heart, whatever you want to call it, remains in question. He needs to take a few lessons on wanting to win from Ovechkin. If he gets there, though, watch out league.
The biggest difference between Rangers teams of the past 12 years or so and now: everyone on the team is a legitimate NHL player, and 5 of the 6 defensemen can carry the puck. Do you think offensively talented defensemen are the key to winning the Cup? Has there been a team that won in the Cup in our lifetimes that didn't have at least one big gun on the blue line?
Steve; GMs will tell you that having a guy that can go back and get the puck and move it forward without turning it over or simply handing it back to the other team is crucial to success. The Rangers seem to have found a nice blend and with the evolution of Marc Staal et al have taken the pressure off guys like Wade Redden. As for teams without a big gun I think of Carolina's blue line in '06 as more defense by committee and that was the case last spring as they went to the Eastern Conference final. Ottawa, I think it's fair to say, didn't have a true 'big gun' in going to the final in '07. Guess the point is if you don't have a big gun like Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Sergei Gonchar or Nicklas Lidstrom you'd better have lots of little guns.
The Wild are transitioning there style of play under new coach Todd Richards. They have put together some exciting offensive play, but pushing the puck in the neutral zone is leading to a lot of odd man rushes the other way. Do the Wild have skilled/fast enough players to play both ends of the ice? What do they need to make the system work?
Josh; I think Todd Richards is going to be a good fit in Minnesota but it's going to take some time to find out if he's got enough tools in his toolbox to play the way he wants to play. If you've been used to playing Jacques Lemaire hockey it's hard to think outside that box. I wonder, though, if there is enough skill in that line-up to get things done offensively. Certainly the early results have been disappointing in the State of Hockey.
Is there a better GM than Doug Wilson, who can admit a draft pick mistake and flip him for value (Carle = Boyle and Mihalek = Heatley and Sturm and Stuart = Thornton).
Joey; Agreed that Doug wilson is a top-notch assessor of talent who has great patience and vision when it comes to the big picture of his team. He's not afraid to pull the trigger on big deals, too. But (and you knew this was coming, no?) until he can find the personnel that can deliver when it counts none of that will mean anything in the final accounting.
You seemed pretty adamant on your Shanny to the Wings question. Was there bad blood when Shanny left?
Josh (and others); Not suggesting bad blood but I am pretty confident that ship has sailed.
Scott, How bout Duchene for top rookies? he doesn't have a lot of points but he is exciting to watch
Brian; Duchene has got off to a nice start, as well, and he's going to get lots of opportunity on a team that is rebuilding (although you'd never know if from their record). I talked to some at the draft who thought he was as good a player as Tavares and Hedman.
Don't you think Calgary is another contender in the West?
Eric; No question. Miikka Kiprusoff is off to a great start which is huge given his disappointing play of last season. Offense is nicely balanced and the blue line is intimidating.
Evander Kane looks good. Of course he plays in ATL so no one bother to mention him.
CC; True, the fourth overall pick in June's draft scored his first goal the other night and likely won't get a lot of attention. That's not a bad thing, really.
Who will get the starting gigs for the Caps, Preds and Ducks?
Joe; Great question. Wish I knew. But my guess is that Pekka Rinne once again ends up with the bulk of the starts in Nashville, Jonas Hiller is the man in Anaheim. Washington? That's a puzzler. Theodore looks to get the start again tonight and I think there are questions about Varlamov's mental toughness. The guy I'm curious about is Michal Neuvirth who was sensational for the Caps' AHL affiliate in the playoffs a year ago. He may yet end up being the guy carrying the freight there.
Why no love for the Devils?
Will; It's not that I don't have love for the Devils. Zach Parise's the real deal, Paul Martin one of the under-appreciated defensemen in the league, but I am still not convinced the Devils have enough offense to get them into the post-season. Gee, have I not said that for the past five years?
Do you think Kansas City, MO will ever get a NHL team to fill the new stadium we built?
Peter; I think there will be a return to a Canadian market before there is an NHL team in Kansas City. Now, the fact AEG, owners of the Kings, also own the Sprint Center, does throw an interesting element into the mix but I think if there is a move it will be to Winnipeg or Quebec City or Southern Ontario before K.C.
does phil kessel help the struggling leafs at all when he gets back? what type of year do you expect out o fhim? i guess you can do much when you dont have support...
Tom; Talk about pressure on the kid when he does get back in the line-up some time in November. He can't hurt but he also isn't going to carry a team. He's not that kind of player. The good thing for Kessel in Boston was he had players like Marc Savard and David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic to carry the freight not just offensively but in terms of dealing with the media. It's a whole other world that awaits him in Toronto. That said, he should still be good for 20 goals at least.
If Ovechkin wins a third Hart trophy, but Crosby repeats as Cup champ, does that make Crosby the better player even though he is on a stronger defensive team?
Tony; Great question. If the ultimate goal is to win a championship I think there is no doubt that Crosby will be considered the 'better' player or at the very least the better leader. I think his play a year ago has already put him in that bracket. Here's hoping the two get to settle matters in the post-season again, maybe in a conference final.
Does this loss to the Rangers say anything about the Ducks being the real deal?
Joe; I think it probably says more about being at the end of an east coast road trip. Still, the Rangers were full value for Sunday's win. Ducks will miss defenseman James Wisniewski, though, as he's 'week to week' with a shoulder injury.
what do you think of the young kid niemi starting for the hawks by years end? i just cant get comfortable watching huet...dont think hes the answer...
Don; Was just thinking about when we might see Antti Niemi again after his nice work in Helsinki. As for the starter, hmmm, stranger things have happened but I still think it's going to be Huet when the dust settles at the end of the regular season.
My Panthers were blasted 41-21 against NJ in shots. Tomas held the fort thankfully. Is this a thing about their D or the Devils offense?
Brian; Since we rarely see 'offense' and 'Devils' in the same sentence I think it might be a defensive issue for the Cats.
If Ilya Kovalchuk isn't able to come to an contract extension agreement, where do you think he will end up and for what value?
Cody; Well, I think the New York Rangers would love to make it happen if Kovalchuk does hit the market. The Kings have loads of young assets and some money to spend. I have a feeling, though, that Kovalchuk remains a Thrasher.
Thanks all. See you next week.