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October 22, 3:00 PM ET
Thursday Night Hockey chat

Buzzmaster
  (9:09 AM)

Send in your questions for today's Thursday Night Hockey chat. We start at 3 p.m. ET!

Barry Melrose
  (3:02 PM)

Hope everyone enjoyed the games last night. The Vancouver-Chicago game was awesome. I hope we have some more good ones this week.

Sydney (Houston)

How do you think the stars are going to do this year?

Barry Melrose
  (3:03 PM)

I like the Stars, they are playing great right now. They are healthy for the first time in a long time. I think they are a playoff team and a very good playoff team.

Brian (Beantown)

With all the injuries the Bruins have where do you see them come playoff time.

Barry Melrose
  (3:04 PM)

I think they are going to make the playoffs. They had a big win last night against Nashville. They should have everybody back in the next month. I don't think they will have 116 points like they did last year but they should make the playoffs in the East.

Sam (Pitssburgh, PA)

Will Ovechken have a big night against Atlanta tonight?

Barry Melrose
  (3:05 PM)

Ovechken has a big night against everybody. If they hold him to under three goals then it's a good night. I expect a lot of goals to be scored in tonight's game.

Mike (State College, PA)

Devils vs Rangers matchup? Who do you think will win?

Barry Melrose
  (3:07 PM)

I think the Rangers will win. They are playing really well right now. Henrik Lundqvist will be back in the net tonight. The Devil's are having trouble scoring so I think the Rangers will win tonight.

Danny (Pittsburgh)

The Penguins are a very deep team but they will miss Gonchar. How are they going to far without him for 2 months?

Barry Melrose
  (3:09 PM)

A lot better than they did last season when he was hurt. They have two really good young defensive players in Goligoski and Letang. Last season they weren't ready to pick up the slack but this season I think they are.

Frank J (The Rock, Brick City, New Joisey)

Barry, what does Scott Burnside have against the Devils? It's like they stole his lunch money when he was little and played keep away using the trap.

Barry Melrose
  (3:10 PM)

Scott is a real grouchy guy. He doesn't like anybody.

Rob (Florida)

Is Michael Del Zotto for real? He is finally the blueliner they needed since the Brian Leetch departure and can he fill those shoes?

Barry Melrose
  (3:12 PM)

He's not Brian Leetch but he's off to an unbelievable start. I think he is leading all rookies in scoring. With the addition of Gilroy they look really good. Let's see if he can play this way for 80 games not just eight.

Tim (Orlando FL)

How can the Rangers get rid of Redden and Rosival? Their salaries are too big for the effort that they put in every night. Two goals scored by San Jose were a result of Rosival turning the puck over.

Barry Melrose
  (3:13 PM)

They both make too much money and are untradaeble for the reason you just said. The Rangers have to find a way to get these two guys to play better.

Ryan (HOCKEYTOWN USA aka HOTLANTA!)

Thrashers...how do they finish up this season

Barry Melrose
  (3:15 PM)

The Thrashers are a good surprise so far. They are playing great and they have great goaltending. Kovalchuk is playing inspired right now and next to Washington, they are the second best team in the Southeast.

Mike (Austin)

Can the Wild recover from this terrible start. All those injuries have made it tough.

Barry Melrose
  (3:16 PM)

The Wild aren't a very good team right now but they did have a big win against Colorado last night. Burns played well which is a good sign but I don't think the Wild will make the playoffs.

Brandon (Albany)

It just seems like the Sabres keep winning....do you think they can keep this up all season? Can they be a factor in the playoffs?

Barry Melrose
  (3:18 PM)

Ryan Miller is playing great and they are getting goals from everybody. They are splaying the best I've seen them play in three years.

mike (LA)

What are your thoughts on frolov? And will he be a king after this season?

Barry Melrose
  (3:19 PM)

I think he will be. I think he isn't as good of a player that I thought he would be at this time. L.A. is a good spot for him right now so I think he will end up staying with the Kings.

mik (illinois)

Can the Blackhawks make it to the Stanley Cup finals with Cristobal Huet in goal?

Barry Melrose
  (3:19 PM)

No, not the way he is playing right now. Right now their backup goaltender is playing better than Huet.

PJ (Greenville)

Barry, when will the 'Canes get going? 4 losses in a row hurt. Thanks.

Barry Melrose
  (3:21 PM)

The 'Cans aren't very good right now. It f you're looking for good news, Staal played very well last night but overall the Hurricanes have been very disappointing this season.

Chris (MN)

MIkko Koivu the best hidden gem in the league and one of the few things Minnesota has going for it?

Barry Melrose
  (3:22 PM)

Yes, he is a great player. He scored a big goal last night and is playing very well. He's a bright spot for the Minnesota Wild.

Paul (West Babylon, NY)

Assuming Gaborik plays at least 75 games, can you see the Rangers making a deep run in the playoffs?

Barry Melrose
  (3:24 PM)

Yes they can. With Lundqvist and the way everyone is playing right now they are one of the best four teams in the East right now. No doubt about it!

jim (philly)

who you like between philly/boston tonight?

Barry Melrose
  (3:25 PM)

I like Philadelphia. They will be motivated because they haven't played in a while. It's a good time to play Boston because they are weak with all the injuries they have. I see the Flyers winning tonight.

Ian (Indiana, PA)

Am I alone when I think that my beloved Penguins have the best third line in hockey??

Barry Melrose
  (3:26 PM)

Right no, yes. That's why they are winning. It's not just Crosby and Malkin scoring. The third line gets at least two goals every night.

Andrew (Boston,MA)

Do you see the B's potentially making a move for a star player at the trade deadline with all of their draft picks in the coming years?

Barry Melrose
  (3:27 PM)

I think that they are positioning themselves well to pick up a big name at the trade deadline.

Brendan (VA)

Caps or Thrashers tonight?

Barry Melrose
  (3:28 PM)

I think the Caps will win. It will be a high scoring game, maybe 6-5. The Caps are playing well right now and have too much fire power for Atlanta.

Buddy (CT)

Barry, big fan! How important is Gaborik to the Rangers success this season? And do you think they have it in them to contend for the cup this year? Thanks

Barry Melrose
  (3:29 PM)

Yes, they are a very dangerous team. Gaborik has to stay healthy. That's been a problem for them his whole career. The Rangers are a very good hockey team with him out there.

Barry Melrose
  (3:31 PM)

We have a great night of hockey tonight. I would be interesting to see if the Sharks can play two great games back-to-back for the fist time this season.

Buzzmaster
  (3:38 PM)

Hey everyone. Matthew Barnaby will be by at 4 p.m. ET to take your questions, so be sure to get them in now!

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:57 PM)

Another good week of hockey. Let's get to your questions as I'm sure there are some good ones. I'll try to answer them the best I can.

Dave (Boston)

Any chance either Brodeur or Luongo does not make the roster for Canada?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:58 PM)

No, I think these two are a mainstay. The tough part will be picking the third goalie. Mason, Fleury have had great years already. You throw in Cam Ward. There are just so many to pick from, but I think the first two are a lock

Steven (NY)

Whats with Getzlaf and B. Ryan, was last season a one shot wonder or are they just starting slow?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:59 PM)

This is just a slow start. These are two great players and will get back on track. We are early on in the season and Getzlaf is one of the best centerman in the game. Bobby Ryan was no fluke. He's a big guy, skates well, and knows where the net is.

Tom (NJ)

How will Gaborik's supposed Swine Flu diagnosis affect his play tonight?(

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:00 PM)

I hope it's not Swine Flu. It is all over Buffalo and the people are going down all over. My son's hockey team had four guys out with the flu and one was Swine. If he does have it, look for him to be down for a week. As for his speed, he'll still be quicker than anyone on the ice.

JEREMY (SPRINGFIELD,MO)

WITH GONCH OUT CAN THE PENS STAY THIS HOT?? OR DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE A COOL DOWN??

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:01 PM)

I think if you look at their track record without him in the lineup, they will take a step back. Having said that, this is still a very strong team and the way Fleury is playing, I don't think it will effect them as much as last year.

Sam (Pittsburgh)

Hey lets talk about jordan staal and what his potential to be absolutely dominant in a shutdown power forward? i mean i feel he has only begun to scratch the surface and being in the situation he is in he can hone skills that very few have had the luxury of honing!!!

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:03 PM)

Staal can do it all. He's big, a great skater and is one of the best young forwards in the game. This will be a tough decision for Team Canada to put him on the team or not for the Olympics. He can play center or the wing, play defensive or PP, so Carolina needs him to play better than he is playing.

Loup (DC)

Which suprise team has more staying power, Colorado or Phoenix? It seems like Anderson is carrying Colorado, which is a great feat, but I don't think he can keep it up forever. While Bryz's play is a large factor in the Coyotes' success, aside from him the Coyotes defense is dominating play and Martin Hanzal is emerging as one of the better checkers you've never heard about. What is your opinion on these two teams?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:05 PM)

I'm going to say neither. I think both teams have come out of the gate very strong, but I think that teams won't take them as lightly and their goaltending won't hold up. Dave Tippet has done a great job in Phoenix in such a short time and Craig Anderson has been stellar in goal for Colorado. These are two teams that just aren't that good and are exceeding expectations.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Matthew, which of the young goalies has impressed you the most? Niemi, Halak?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:06 PM)

I really haven't seen enough of Niemi to give you a solid confirmation, but he has been better than his counterpart Huet. Halak played great in his last game and should get the next start for Montreal.

Benjamin (San Diego, CA)

How about the Sharks 7-3 bruising of New York. Think they have finally come around?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:07 PM)

I think this is a very talented team and struggled out of the gate. They did get a break in having Valiquette play in that game, but every game that goes by, they look stronger and stronger. I knew Devin Setaguchi was good but he looks great. Patrick Marleau is back to where he was five or six years ago. This team is going to be tough.

Ryan (Spokane, WA)

If you could have one enforcer on your team, who would you pick? Parros, Laraque, Boogaard or someone else? and I dont consider Lucic an enforcer.

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:08 PM)

I would go with Boogaard. It would be tough to turn down Laraque, as I don't know if he's ever lost a fight, but the Boogie Man actually instills fear into people. I don't know if I've ever seen someone tougher. Just ask Koci from Colorado.

Steve Cinderella (Bear, DE)

So I noticed the Rangers are finally scoring some goals this year. The last few years I feel like they have had a decent team, but Lundqvist always had to come up big because big name players weren't putting up the numbers they should have been. With the high scoring Gaborik-Dubinsky-Prospal line and even getting goals from young D men, not to mention the job the defense is doing. Del Zotto coming up big and Marc Staal shutting down Ovie in that Caps game. Do you think the Rangers have a legitimate shot at the cup this year?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:10 PM)

I didn't like their team at all last year for the fact that they didn't have enough goalscoring and a legitimate game breaker. Marian Gaborik to me was the best signing in the offseason. He gives them that ability to either tie or break away from a game at any point. Henrik Lundqvist is in the top three goalies in the league and will give them a chance every single night. I really like this team and was laughed at when I picked them to be in the top six in the conference. Those same people aren't laughing now.

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Matthew, the ROY race is going to be a crowded one. Which rookies have impressed yo so far?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:13 PM)

There have been so many great young players come into the league this year. Del Zotto has been awesome for the Rangers and unexpected. Tavares is doing exactly what he has done in every league and that is put up points. Matt Duchene is contributing every which way for Colorado. This is going to be a race that goes down to the bitter end. I started the year picking Hedman, but I think with the power play time Tavares will get he will eventually win the ROY.

Rob Schine (NY)

Do you think sharks are going to beat lightning like they did ny?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:14 PM)

Yeah, I'll pick the Sharks. The Lightning have struggled and the Sharks are hitting stride. Hopefully the Lightning can get their equipment back on after the game of strip showdown the other day. If they don't, the women demographic will definitely go up and I will be nauseous.

Doug (Minnesota)

What are the chances that Minnesota stands at the podium first come next year's draft?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:15 PM)

Well, they have not had the start they wanted, but I don't think they are as bad as their record is. If you want to see bad, watch the Toronto Maple Leafs play. The only bad thing for them, if they do finish last, Boston will get their first pick.

kommish (ca)

I am a big fan of sportsnation but why do you have someone like that big mouth on just because colin is out today, is he just trying to be funny? wrong he is not . sorry just changed the channel

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:16 PM)

I like him on there. I think he's great. He's funny. That show is all about personality. I just hope he can get that lock off at the end. He's about 6-6, 285, so I'm going to stay on his good side.

Travis (Canada)

BamBam, have you given any thought to going back to junior to coach? I know alot of your former teamates have had success.

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:18 PM)

I actually have given this a lot of thought. I love working at ESPN, but I also think that coaching would be a great challenge. I coach my sons competitive team and if you ask my wife, I'm a little obsessive. I don't know if I could handle being away from his hockey and the family as you have to travel so much. Bob Boughner is doing a phenomenal job with Windsor and will definitely have some opportunities to coach in the NHL.

Neal (New Jersey)

Who is the better team right now? Columbus or Atlanta?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:19 PM)

I'll say Columbus. They're both off to great starts, but Mason with the way he played last year and the start to this year gives them the edge. Ken Hitchcock is a proven coach that demands that his team plays great defense. Along with Rick Nash, one of the best forwards in the game, they are for real.

Carlos (Los Angeles)

Matthew, LA Kings pretenders or contenders? What's the missing piece? Thanks.

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:20 PM)

This was my wild card pick at the start of the year, to make the playoffs. I don't think they are Cup contenders, but I think they are good enough to make the playoffs. The addition of Ryan Smythe was a great one and the goaltending of Quick has been a pleasant surprise. A lot of good young kids will have this team contending for a long time.

Ryan (Hotlanta)

why no menton of Kane in your ROY discussion?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:21 PM)

Evander Kane is off to a great start. I can't name every rookie and to me, the other ones have a better chance.

LANA (ORLANDO)

Barn,Do you think the bruins will have a stellar season, or just another disappointment?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:23 PM)

I thought the Bruins wouldn't be as good as they were last year, but would still win the division. No Kessel, Lucic out, Savard out, that's tough sledding. They have not impressed me, even yesterday against a weak Predators team but found a way to win. Tim Thomas will have to play a lot better than he has if this team has any chance.

Joe (New Jersey)

Barry and Matthew, Do you believe Henrik Lundqvist can win the Vezina this year the way he is playing? I love the Rangers and am hoping for a cup run past the second round of the playoffs? You guys are awesome!

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:24 PM)

Absolutely. This guy makes some of the toughest saves look routine. He can definitely win the Vezina. One of the top goalies in the league already and is only getting better.

dan (N.Y.)

thank god you guys brought back thursday night hockey...living in new york i used to love be able to get to see western monsters like the avs n redwings face off! i was actually just talking about this the other night before i realized my (and yours matt) NYR will be playing tonight! good job espn for getting this back!

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:25 PM)

We're glad you guys are happy. I know a lot of people at ESPN love hockey and wanted to do something more for the fans out there that truly love the game. Enjoy it.

Steven (SD)

Has marleau played himself into a spot on team Canada, and if so is there a chance for a heatley thorton marleau line?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:26 PM)

I really think he wasn't on the radar whatsoever, but the way he looks, he is definitley going to get a look. He's versatile, can kill penalties and can play any position up front. It's good to see him rebound after having the captaincy stripped.

LANA (ORLANDO)

when are lucic and savard returning?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:26 PM)

I think you're looking at four to six weeks with both players. Two huge losses for this team.

Jon (Haslett, MI)

Who is the most likely to get a nose job after they retire from hockey? Ian Laperriere, Ryan Smyth, Stephane Robidas?

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:27 PM)

Definitely Stephane Robidas. The worst thing is I think he had it done this summer and first game back, broke it again. I shouldn't talk, mines been broken eight times. I'm like Johnny Drama, every time I am on TV, it has to be from the left side.

Josh (Dallas)

What do you think about the Stars so far this year and how do you think they will do going forth and making the playoffs.

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:29 PM)

Just did a thing for ESPNDallas.com and I think that this team is much better than it was last year, for two reasons: Marty Turco is playing better and when he isn't in the net, Alex Auld is a very capable backup. Last year, their goaltending was horrendous. Having Brendan Morrow, their physical and emotional leader is a huge boost for this team. It gives them an identity and also a presence up front that they were lacking. He also leads the team with 10 points. I think they'll make the playoffs, but I don't know if their defense is deep enough to really contend.

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:30 PM)

Hockey Night on ESPN tonight. Should be some great games. Talk to you guys next week.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:31 PM)

Thanks Matthew, I'll take that stick from you. You could never score anyways :)Let's go folks !

Puckie (Hartford)

When will the Whalers be back in the NHL?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:31 PM)

Unfortunately, likely never. But just in case, my blackberry rings to the Brass Bonanza

Sean (Morristown NJ)

Over the past 10 years we have seen many rangers teams that appear to be stacked when looking at the roster (i.e. Theo Fleury, Jagr, Lindros, Gomez) yet they fail to make a difference in the post season or fall appart before they can get there. Do you feel like this year's team will be any different and why?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:33 PM)

Too early to tell Sean but nonetheless a worthy question... the one thing I'll tell you is that John Tortorella teams have character. Even last spring's team, despite the fact he only got a few months with them, scared the bejesus out of a superior Washington team in the first round. It starts with the guy behind the bench

Robert (New York)

Where do you see the Rangers finishing the season? They look just as good as anyone in the East and have Lundqvist in net. Do you think this team is better constructed then last years?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:34 PM)

My prediction for the division hasn't changed:1. Philly2. Pitt3. NYR4. NJ5. NYIPhilly, Pitt and Rangers will all have very good seasons, Devils will be a bubble team and Islanders will continue to rebuild !

ccu (pittsburgh)

Why do the television broadcast insist on doing so many camera close ups while play is going on? KEEP THE CAMERAS BACK SO WE CAN SEE THE PLAY ON THE ICE!!! Wait for stoppage in play for your not so clever close up shots. That would help TV ratings. Hockey, greatest live spectacle sport, difficult to translate to TV, especially with all those unnecessary close-up camera shots.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:35 PM)

I know, I hate when they do close-ups of me on Hot STove !!!! Bad for TV !! haha

Shawn (Florida)

Is it me or has ESPNs coverage of the NHL decrease since the lockout? What chance to the sport have to grow in the US if the biggest sports network give it a 2min spot on the show every morning? Is there something as fans we can do to get ESPN to put more coverage on TV? Thanks.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:37 PM)

It certainly hasn't decreased on the web site ! I was a new hire in the summer of 2008... we expanded !

Brian (Brooklyn, NY)

Sean Avery had a bunch of penalties earlier this week against the Sharks. No doubt he plays hard, but often takes stupid penalties. If the Rangers make the playoffs this year, will Avery be an asset? Or will he be the Rangers downfall?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:38 PM)

He can be such an effective player. But in the first round against Wash last year (I covered that whole series)he took some dumb penalties, selfish penalties, forcing Torts to scratch him for a game

Leo (Connecticut)

Among thier other troubles, the Bruins are clearly not playing with enough grit. How do you think they'll fare in Philly tonight?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:38 PM)

Philly has had six days off. Watch out !

Leo (Connecticut)

With the orientation camp snub over the summer and now the broken foot, is there any chance Marc Savard will play in the Olympics?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:38 PM)

nope

Anthony Mitchell (Pittsburgh)

Even with the loss of Sergei Gonchar, the Penguins have the look of the 92-93 team that just ran through the league and ultimately won the Presidents Trophy. They are loaded with talent outside of the big 2, and they are all under 25 (Kennedy, Staal, Talbot, Letang, Goligoski etc.). Furthermore, they are all clicking, spreading the puck around, and getting great goaltending. Is there really any reason why this team will not reach its third straight finals? (Barring injuries of course)

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:40 PM)

I agree the are the team to beat right now... no question. Love their makeup. But unlike 92-93, this NHL in the salary cap era has a much smaller gap between the haves and havenots. Philly, Washinton, Boston and even the Rangers or Sabres could have a say in the East... That's why the playoffs are as exciting as ever in my mind because the parity is sensational

Russo (Yorktown Heights)

Do you see michael Del Zotto continuing on all year with these kind of offensive numbers? and what do you think his total output for the season will be?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:41 PM)

no clue what his output will be, I'm not a fantasy expert:)he's been fun to watch. Usualy with rookies they hit a bit of a wall. That will likely happen in his case. But what you hope to see is how he responds to that adversity,

Ryan Biery (Chester, New Jersey)

Why are the blackhawks so good? Will anyone stop them on their reign of terror over the western conference.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:44 PM)

Having covered them in the second and third round last season int he playoffs and again earlier this month in Helsinki, Finland, to open the season, it is amazing to see what wealth of talent they have. Everyone knows about Toews and Kane and Keith and Campbell, but that's just scratchin the surface. Guys like Brouwer and Bolland are so underratd still up front, as is the Hhmalrsson (can never spell his name), the Swedish puck-mover at the back end that gets overlooked all the time.The problem, of course, as has been underlined so far this season, is in goal. Huet has had a brutal start and will earn $5.625 million this year, as well as next year and in 2011-12 ! Yikes. Is Antti Niemi or Corey Crawford the answer ? Not sure...

Russo (Yorktown Heights)

Do you think with Tortarella saying hes gunna give henry about 20 games off this season that he will be more ready for a playoff run? its been said hes been burnt out the last 2 seasons due to 70+ games

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:46 PM)

It's a great question. I have to say King Henrik did look tired to me last spring, running out of juice as the series went to seven games... It's interesting because the Flames want to do the same thing to preserve Kipper.... But it's hard. Torts and Brent Sutter are similar guys in the sense they hate to lose a game any time and seeing Valiquette get lit up Monday night makes me wonder how much leeway Torts will give him. We all saw how Torts dealt with the post-Khabibulin era in Tampa. He doesn't have a lot of patience for bad goaltending.

Kyle (St.Louis) [via mobile]

do you think the blues should send Alex Pietrangelo back to his junior team since he's been a healthy scratch in all but 2 games and with jackman and brewer close to returning? also, what are your thoughts on Ian Cole? do u think he'll be more of a shut down or puck moving defender? thank you.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:48 PM)

yes I do believe the Blues should send Pietrangelo back to junior. He'll benefit greaty from helping Canada at the world junior hockey championship at Christmas... As for Cole, I haven't seen enough of him yet Kyle to give you an informed opinion. As I've said before to readers, I like to see a player at least live in person once before ..

Iggy (Closter, NJ)

Is there any way that Sather can move Redden or Rosi this season? If he can, what is New York's biggest need right now?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:52 PM)

Roszival makes $6 million this season, $4 million next season and $3 million in 2011-12, the last year of his deal. His cap hit for all three seasons is $5 million a year. That makes him hard to move although at least in real-life money, he becomes more appealing to cash-strapped teams after this season.Redden has four more seasons left on his monster deal after this year. He makes $8 million this season, followed by $6.5 million both in 2010-11 and 2011-12, then $5 million a year in the final two seasons. Immovable.Only options are to either buy him out next summer which would carry an eight-year cap hit of two-thirds of what's left on his deal... or simply stuff him in the AHL and say, 'Hey, we're MSG and we're loaded so who cares.'Fact is, I think Redden has played better this season so maybe there's a light at the end of the tunnel there

Ryan (St. Louis, MO)

As a coach, how would you go about getting the Blues to change their terrible first period starts? I think out of 7 games we've been down by 2 goals in 6 of them. Appreciate your insight.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:54 PM)

yes I've notced that about the Blues, Ryan. I saw my old Hot Stove colleague John Davidson, the Blues president, quoted today talking about the need to find out what's the problem with those slow starts. Andy Murray is amongst the most prepared coaches in the NHL so surely it can't be a hole in his game plan. I just hope the players haven't tuned him out. He's a great guy, Andy, I know him from past world hockey championships when he coached Canada and I was covered the tournament, but sometimes players can get overloaded with details.... here's hoping that's not the case

Keith D. (Waynesboro, VA)

What's the deal with Michael Nylander? He has a stellar year in NY with the Rangers before arriving for his second stint with the Caps. I would have thought that a freewheeling O minded guy like Nylander would thrive under Bruce Boudreau. Why did he fall out of grace with the coaches and front office? Steve Levy--your Do is so DEVO! Can't get no--satisfaction.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (4:57 PM)

Ever since he seriously hurt his shoulder two years ago he's never been the same. He's on a conditionbing stint now with AHL Grand Rapids, the Caps wanting to showcase him for either an NHL or KHL team... His contract, $5.5 millino this year and $3 million next season, makes him nearly un-movable.... but perhaps he can be loaned to a KHL team and there's a paying arrangement made..Ironically, as you may remember Keith, the Edmonton Oilers were extremely angry with him two or three summers ago because they thought they had a deal with him on July 1 but he reneged on that deal and signed with Washington. The Oilers are happy today !

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:00 PM)

Yes it is surprising to see then ranked 27th in the NHL right now in goals against. Or is it? The Flames ranked 23rd overall last season... To be honest Brendon, I'm still waiting for the Kipper of three or four years ago; his play has slipped ever since he won the Vezina. That's a fact.

Joe (Since)

Who would take as a center for tonights games, Dallas' Brad Richards, or New Jersey's Travis Zajac?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:01 PM)

I'm no fantasy expert, so I have no clue. But Brad Richards is one my favs, good ol' native of Prince Edward Island (that's Alantic Canada for you Americans)PEI also happens to be where I got married nine and half years ago.Now there's trivia you can't buy anywhere else

Ian (Indiana, PA)

With the recent loss of Gonchar for my beloved Penguins, would you guys agree they are more equipped this year to absorb this loss with the continued progression of Kris Letang and the emergence of Goligoski as a credible blue-liner? also how do you guys see Martin Skoula, who i am assuming will take gonch's place on the blue line, fill in back there for him even though they do have contrasting styles?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:04 PM)

Ian, did you get idea from my blog yesterday ? hahahahato quote my blog:''Yes, we all know how badly they missed Gonchar last season when the All-Star blueliner missed the first 56 games of the season. They were basically a .500 team and on the playoff bubble. He later returned and the Penguins went on a tear all the way to the Promised Land.I'm not discounting what the 35-year-old defenseman brings to this team. He's their best defenseman, their top puck-mover, the key to their transition game, their best defensive shut-down guy and, of course, their power-play quarterback. But I believe Kris Letang and Alex Goligoski are better equipped to handle some of that load than they were when Gonchar went down in September 2008."Yes, I think so too," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, agreeing with the premise, told ESPN.com on Wednesday. "We'll talk about this in another two months and see if that's the case. But I agree."Letang, 22, has blossomed into the real deal, a top-two, two-way blueliner with serious offensive skill. He really broke through during last spring's Cup run, putting up 13 points (4-9) in 23 games. He has five assists and a plus-3 rating this season. Goligoski, 24, is on a tear to start this season, fourth on the team with seven points (2-5) and tops with a plus-9 rating. Neither Letang nor Goligoski were playing at this level last season when Gonchar was out."I see him as a guy who can play in every situation and play against any of the other team's good players," Bylsma said. "With his skating ability, he's got some bite to the way he defends and then there's the obvious offensive ability. I think he's primed to have another big step in his career. Now he's going to have that opportunity to take that other step."Most important of all, when Gonchar was out last season, Marc-Andre Fleury was still trying to find his game. Today, he's arguably the hottest goalie in the NHL. Nothing like the last line of defense to cover up any shortcomings.Overall, this is a team that is playing the best hockey of the Sidney Crosby era, buoyed by the confidence it gained from winning its first championship together. Will they miss the man they call Gonch? Of course. But it not as badly as last season."

Christian (santa barbara)

so whats your opinion barry of the alex frolov situtation in LA? is a trade likely soon? ehat woul;d be a possible destination for alex and what return would he net for my kings?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:05 PM)

Well I'm not Barry although I did have a mullet in the early 1990sBut I will update you on Frolov _ spoke with Kings GM Dean Lombardi about 45 min ago and he said he was NOT shopping Frolov. The Kings still believe in him.So we'll see on this one. If Frolov doesn't respond and get his head out of his butt, then perhaps Lombardi picks up the phone later this season

Shawn (The Burgh)

Do you think the Jackets can keep playing as well as they have and secure maybe a 4 or 5 seed in the conference?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:06 PM)

I think they'll be more in the 7-8-9 range.. bubble time again

Shawn (The Burgh)

How about some love for my Jackets?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:07 PM)

from my blog on Tuesday Shawn:Coach Hitchcock: Different players are stepping upThe Columbus Blue Jackets are intent on not regressing from last season's first playoff berth, cobbling together their best start in franchise history through six games (5-1-0)."We're finding ways to get some points," Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock told ESPN.com from Calgary. "Different guys, different parts of the game, are stepping up."etc etc etclotsa love !

Parker (atlanta)

why are the thrashers being discussed about moving to winnipeg, shouldnt the nhl worry about nashville, phoenix, and the florida teams first?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:08 PM)

I can confirm that the commissioner did have meetings with people from Winnipeg over the last few years... Atlanta is a target because the team loses a ton of money and ownership is unstable. Having said all that, I still think the Thrashers will remain where they are.

JT (Nashville)

How long until Ken Holland spends the cap savings from having Franzen on IR? What will he look for?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:11 PM)

JT, I'm glad you asked that question. Holland and I lauged about this notion last week. There are no cap savings to spend just because Franzen is on IR. I find myself having to clear this up time and time again. Yes, it's true that if you are a team that's right up against the cap (which Detroit is) you are allowed to go over the cap by the same amount of a player on LTI (in this case Franzen). HOWEVER _ and listen up everyone _ once that player comes off LTI, you can no longer be over the cap. In other words, let's say Holland picks up a $4-million player right now. He'd have to shave up $4 million when Franzen comes back in four months. So what's the point in that??? The only way the LTI/CAP savings rule is useful to a team is if the player is out for the year.OK everybody ??????

Parker (atlanta)

aside from all these relocation rumors do you see my thrashers as a legit contender to reach and maybe make a run at the playoffs?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:11 PM)

If Pavelec holds up, I like their chances at 7th or 8th in the East, no question. Really good blue-line and offense through the wazooo

Loup (DC)

Detroit is down, Phoenix is flying high. Who do you think takes the tilt tonight? Also, with a combined 1 goal allowed against San Jose, Pittsburgh and Boston, why aren't the Coyotes getting any respect?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:13 PM)

They're not getting any respect my friend because 2,000 people are showing up to their own games, LOLBut you have to be impressed. The Coyotes have the number one rated goals-against in the NHL. Bryzgalov putting pressure on Khabibulin and Nabokov for the Russian Olympic job !!!!Will the Coyotes make the playoffs? No. Will they be as bad as everyone thought? No.

Mike (LA)

What do you see the kings doing with frolov?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:14 PM)

Mike, you probably saw my answer on this earlier...They're goin to try and turn him around before they even think of calling other teams...

Matt (NY)

Whats the deal with Luongo? With Cory Schiender waiting in the A, Could Luongo get shopped around to a major market team like toronto.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:15 PM)

Ah.... NO !!!!!They put the 'C' on Luongo baby. GM Mike Gillis hitching his GM career on the Italian Stallion

Craig G. (Fairfield, California)

Hey Pierre, I enjoy your columns and insight. Any chance Alex Goligoski will be an All Star?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:16 PM)

thanks Craig. Yes, I think Alex has the offensive skill-set to make an all-star game or two in his career. Doesn't have to worry about this season _ no all-star game !

Steve Cinderells (Bear, DE)

Commenting on your post earlier about playing Lundqvist less games. I just don't think it's very possible to play him only 52 games a season. Yes he will be more rested but I just don't know how well Valiquette will do if he takes on more games that he has been the last few years. Sure he's ok to go in 7-10 games cause you have to give Hank a rest at some point. But I think until they get a stronger back-up goalie, they just can't afford to not play Lundqvist 70+ games a season. Maybe they could scoop a decent back-up goalie sometime if they have any wiggle room left on their cap?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:17 PM)

solid observation _ that's what I was hinting at when I talked about Torts and backup goalies...but let's give Valiquette a few more starts before we run him out of town, ok?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:17 PM)

FYI, The Blue Jackets just announce that Mike Commodore was activated from IR. So he's likely a go tonight in Edmonton

Dave (Toronto)

Who will win a game first, The Leafs or the Raptors (whose first game is on Wednesday)?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:18 PM)

We still have a basketball team here in Toronto?:)

Michael (Chicago)

I noticed your comments on the wealth of talent in Chicago. How will their lines and team as a whole change once Marian Hossa comes back from injury?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:21 PM)

very good point, Michael.Here's what I would do, but I don't pretend to be Joel Quenneville even though we both like to sport facial hair:Kane-Toews-ByfulienSharp-Bolland-HossaLadd-Madden-VersteegLadd-Fraser-Kopecky

ross (west fulton, chicago.)

whats your take on mitchell's hit on Toews last night and the subsequent ragdoll routine that Versteeg went through for his captain?? yes, it was a clean hit BUT what about defending your most important player.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:23 PM)

Well Ross, you answered your own question.It was totally a CLEAN hit. Toews is a great kid, he knew right away he was at fault for watching the pass and having his head down.But at the same time, I like what Versteeg did. That's great for team unity. Guys sticking together.For the Canucks, a great turning point. They then cranked it up and scored twice to win it. A good clean it turned the game around. Good ol' hockey!

Matt (Pa)

What is the best rivalry in the NHL?

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:25 PM)

The rivalry of the hour is probably Flyers-Penguins...But I mean, nothing compares to Leafs-Habs. If those two sad-sack Original Six franchise ever got their act together and faced each other in a playoff series, the NHL would be wise to make sure no other playoff games are played on the same night. It would be insane !

Har (North Vancouver, BC)

As a Maple Laughs Hater, do you think they will finish 30th this Season?? So far they are on pace to and I hope they do. With No Lucic, Savard, or Kessell are the Bruins in bad shape this Season?? they're really banged up and other then the Sabres I think they will still easily Win their division what do you think Pierre?? Do you think Michael Grabner will breakout with the Canucks or Not?? I'd rather see Sergei Shirokov up here he ripped it up in the Pre-Season and now in the AHL, Grabner is outta chances and should be Trade for Horton.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:26 PM)

Have you had six coffees today ????Bruins will hang in there but Sabres indeed will push them hard for the division lead

Tyler (PEI)

Maxim Lapierre most underrated checker in the league/hardest worker? I remember watching him shadow Crosby when he played against the PE Rocket. Crosby still claims he was his ebst shadow

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:27 PM)

I agree Tyler. I gave Max one of my five Selke votes last year...

jon (Chi-town)

Any updates on toews or seabrook? hopefully both are just day-to-day...although jonathan certainly didnt look so hot getting off the ice after that hit

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:29 PM)

From my colleague Jesse Roders at ESPNChicago.comBy Jesse RogersESPNChicago.comCHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville said Jonathan Toews and Brent Seabrook could play on Saturday though their status is still being evaluating after leaving Wednesday night's game in the third period."Seabs and Johnny both presented well today," Quenneville said after practice on Thursday. "They progressed well overnight, so it's encouraging in those regards."Although the Hawks won't specify the injuries more than upper body, they are of the "wind-knocked-out-of- them" variety. Whether either suffered a diagnosed concussion is unknown.

Pierrre LeBrun
  (5:30 PM)

OK puck fans, was a treat. Join us tonight for more fun !I'm outta here