So, where were we?
Hey Scott, there is a rumor of the Kostitsyn brothers getting traded to the Rangers. Can you update me on that?
Mike; Yes, indeed, there are rumors to that effect. Or to Edmonton or pretty much anywhere Montreal GM Bob Gainey can find a landing place for the underachieving, trouble magnets. The Rangers are interested because of the injuries to Brandon Dubinsky and Chris Drury but as always the Rangers have cap issues. And there's always the Peter Forsberg sweepstakes the Rangers will be in as well. Stay tuned.
Scott, As an avid Devils fan I'm loving this streak. But after several years of watching the team go down in flames in the first and second round, I have to wonder if this team has what it takes. At the trade deadline should they fortify their offense or defense?
Marc R.; As an avid predictor that the Devils will fail to make the playoffs I wonder that, too. Still, there is something about this team with its young players Bergfors, Clarkson, Greene, that bodes well for the spring. Call if a hunch. Plus assuming good health Martin Brodeur looks ready to prove doubters wrong. Still, as always, I wonder if there's enough scoring depth peyond Zach Parise and his line-mates to get it done against teams like Pittsburgh, Philly or Washington.
If Kovalchuk remains healthy can Atlanta make the playoffs this season?
Steve; Yes. The problem might be that Kovalchuk stays healthy for another team if they can't get him to sign a contract extension. Expect that situation to be cleared up in the coming weeks one way or the other. I figure he stays but I've been wrong before.
First it was Talbot, then Gonchar, then Malkin, then Kennedy, then Letang, then Orpik, then Kunitz, and now Goligoski just today. How many more injuries can this Pens team sustain and still be competitve? Half their current lineup are callups from the AHL! It's no wonder the power play has been atrocious. Your thoughts?
Chris H.; True, all true. But then half a dozen NHL teams can make the same claims. Interesting to see that the moment Malkin returned to the line-up Saturday the offense took off. You'd think he was the defending scoring champ and playoff MVP or something.
Do you see Chelios signing with the Yotes or any other NHL team soon??
Dave; Phoenix GM Don Maloney caused a bit of a stir when he said he was going to scout Chelios but after he did announced he didn't think there was a fit for Chelly. I think that may be the same story as the season moves along. Very strong personality and it would take a pretty mature, veteran-laden team to take him on. As injuries mount and the season moves along perhaps but he's not going to appeal to a broad range of GMs.
Do you think the wild can make a run at the playoffs?
Korey; No. Too big a hole and frankly not enough tools in the Wild toolbox to make it to the post-season. Next year? Maybe.
There are 15 teams currently with over 20 percent power play effectiveness reminiscent of the 80's and early 90's. There seems to be a steady increase in PP conversions since the lockout, but a big jump this year. Any thoughts as to why?
Thomas; It's an interesting topic you bring up. But I am guessing that if we looked at PP percentage during the first quarter to one/third of a season they are always markedly higher than during the last quarter or third. If it holds I would say better coaching and better talent around the league would be the answer but I would be surprised that come April of the numbers have gone down significantly as team defenses get better and the playoff races tighten up forcing teams into more defensive postures.
Scott,Ive been worried a bit about Olli Jokinen recently. Is he destined to have a permanent cold streak now that he's in Calgary? It seems like a player of his caliber on a team that is so well balanced should be butting up stellar numbers. Whats the deal?
Brendan; If you just started worrying about Jokinen then you're an optimist. There have been concerns about Jokinen's ability to compete consistently for a long time. The move to Phoenix didn't pan out and except for brief bursts of productivity he hasn't been all that good in Calgary. Hmmm. Do we sense a trend? Funny, when he was on the market a couple of years ago a number of Eastern Conference GMs said they wouldn't touch him with a 10-foot pole as they had seen him long enough to belief he wasn't a cornerstone kind of player. We'll find out soon enough as the Flames are a team that has an opportunity to make a long playoff run next spring.
Mike from Brooklyn has a twitter link saying that Forsberg will stay in Sweden this season. Interesting. Thanks Mike.
will the olypmic break force teams to make deals earlier than they would ordinarily?
craig; That's a great question as the trade deadline takes place just two days after the NHL schedule resumes after the Olympic break (play resumes March 1, trade deadline is March 3). I am checking but pretty sure NHL rosters are frozen until the completion of the Olympics which might force GMs to make moves before the 14th of February the last day of play before the Olympics begin. One thing, GMs will have no excuse for not being ready for trade deadline with a two-week break during the Olympics.
Scotty, As you mentioned in the power rankings, 2 blown 2 goal leads for the sharks. Something to worry about, or a team playing a bunch of games most of which are on the road?
Steven; If this was during the first couple of weeks of the season I would say it might be a concern but the Sharks' play suggests a bit of road fatigue. This is a team as good as most people thought, maybe better especially defensively.
Just heard from the NHL's Bennie Ercolani in Toronto and the rosters are indeed frozen during the Olympics.
Big sabres fan here. Does Miller start for the U.S. in the olympics and does Timmy Connolly play for Canada...what about D. Roy?
Drew; Barring injury I think Ryan Miller is a lock to start for the U.S. Connolly is actually American (born in Syracuse) and I think has an outside shot at making the U.S. team. He wasn't invited to the orientation camp in August which is a strike against him. As for Derek Roy. A slow start may have cost him as he was a long-shot to make the Canadian team to begin with.
Hey Scott, in your opinion, does Steven Stamkos deserve a spot on Canada's roster?
Craig; Sometimes it's not whether a player deserves a spot (Stamkos's level of play suggests he deserves a place) but whether there's room for him. Canada is so deep down the middle there is little room for Stamkos. Steve Yzerman has been pretty clear about taking only players who can play both ends of the ice. Not that Stamkos isn't capable of doing that but not in the place of a guy like Mike Richards or Ryan Getzlaf or Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews etc. Sochi in 2014? You bet.
Speaking of team USA Scott, does JVR make the team?
Detroit seems to be solving there scoring problems any thoughs on there recent play. Jimmy howard seems to picked up his play aswell, what about ablekaor,helm and lebda for team USA
Bill; Having technical difficulties.
Ah, that's better. Danny hang tight I will get to you.
bill; getting Henrik Zetterberg back was a big help as he helps take the pressure off the rest of the line-up when he's going. And he's going now. Howard better but needs to be more consistent. And no room in the U.S.A. inn for those three Wings.
Danny; Sorry, don't think there's room for James VR. Too many other youngsters in the queue ahead of him even though he's had an impressive start.
Philly vs. NJ tonite? Who ya got?
Louie; The Devils aren't going to win 41 straight on the road can they? And the Flyers coming off loss to Sabres...Philly 4 Devils 2.(Thus ensuring the Devils win 5-1.)
Assuming that Crosby, Getzlaf, and Richards are locks for Team Canada center spots, given their respective skills and potential roles, who do you take for the third line? Toews, Staal, Lecavalier, or Thornton?
I think Toews will be on the team although he may move to the wing. Steve Yzerman has said he will only move a couple of centers to wing, though, which means a lot of good pivots will not be on the squad. I don't think there's room for both Lecavalier and Thornton and maybe neither. Eric Staal can play the wing but is hurt and is off to a terrible start. And what about Jordan Staal who wins face-offs, kills penalties, scores and, oh yeah, was the best player on the ice during the last part of the Stanley Cup final.
Whats wrong with Steve Mason? Is it the defense that is giving up goals or is he just having an off year?
Curtis; It may be a bit of a lot of things. I know Ken Hitchcock was worried that they relied too heavily on the Rookie of the Year and wanted to take some of the pressure off him this year by being better in their own zone. Hasn't totally happened. And Mason has been up and down himself giving up bad goals. It will be interesting to see how he plays through the second half of the season especially with Hitchcock giving back-up Mathieu Garon more work, perhaps pushing Mason's buttons a little.
I agree with you I think Jordan Staal would be good for Team Canada. Since Parise and Langenbrunner have such good chemistry already from the Devils, do you see them playing on the same line for Team USA and who would you have center that line?
Jay; I wouldn't be surprised to see the Parise/Langenbrunner duo stay together in Vancouver. The Americans are pretty thin down the middle but what about Ryan Kesler? Lots of sand and good skills? Then you can mix up Paul Stastny, Patrick Kane, Ryan Malone and through the next two lines to give the Americans pretty good balance up front.
Ovechkin set for Tuesday...should they ease him back into things and limit his ice time? They dont need to rush him back like the Leafs may have with Komisarek.
Mustard; I don't Ovechkin eases into anything. I say he plays 23 minutes.
New question. I too was having technical difficulties and did not see the Q&A above. Who would win in a hot dog eating contest, you or Pierre?
Josh; You have to ask? I wouldn't be in the same area code as my talented friend and colleague.
Scott, what do you think the chances are that Atlanta will be able to sign both Kovy and Max to long-term deals? Rumor has it that while Kovy was out with his foot that he told his agent to start discussion "hard numbers" so that's a great sign, in my opinion! Also, what should the team do with their goalie situation with Opie doing surprisingly well, Moose still solid as a backup and Kari... well... being Kari...
James; I think it's going to be one of the big stories of the first half of the season as GM Don Waddell won't want the Kovalchuk contract thing lingering. I think he wants to stay but it won't be cheap (try $10 million a year long-term) and the Thrashers have to decide if that's the way to build into something special. As for the goaltending, suddenly head coach John Anderson has a nice goaltending dilemma with both Pavelec and Hedberg providing quality starts. Lehtonen? I will be shocked if he ever plays again for the Thrashers.
How far can the kings go this year and should they make a deadline move for a defensive player
Mario; Like the Kings a lot. Assuming relative health along the blue line I think GM Dean Lombardi may be looking at adding a veteran back-up for the playoffs. He's got lots of young assets to make such a move.
How about some love for the Isles highly competitive first quarter of the season. They are always coming, are very resilient, and Tavares is already starting to talk like a leader. If they knew how to close they would be near a division lead. Your thoughts?
Brandon; Agreed. The team never quits and the youngsters are much higher on the learning curve than most thought they would be. Goaltending helps and you have to credit Garth Snow for building in depth with the Dwayne Roloson/Martin Biron signings. And how about Matt Moulson? What a find. Tavares? The Lightning are happy with Victor Hedman but Tavares has accomplished more than most would have expected at this early juncture. Best division in hockey? Hard to argue against the Atlantic right now.
As you mentioned, Team USA is thin down the middle. Does this give Joe Pavs a shot at making the team. He's a good center who can play on pp or pk, good with faceoffs and forechecks well.
bob; Interesting case with Pavelski who missed time with injury but has eight points in seven games. If he can stay on the ice I think he makes the team and plays second/third line minutes.
Do you think Yzerman will have a GM job next season and with who? Or do you think Detroit will offer more of a role with the organization to keep him?
Matt; Interesting situation in Detroit with so many talented guys in the front office; Yzerman, Ken Holland, Jim Nill.At some point something will have to give. Wouldn't surprise me to see Yzerman spread his wings after the Olympics are done. Ottawa anyone?Hard to imagine anywhere wouldn't welcome his presence. The other option will be for the Ilitch family to re-organize and move Ken Holland up to create room for Yzerman. Status quo won't work for too much longer whichever way it breaks.
Injuries to the D have crushed the Coyotes. If they can "tread water" while three of their top 4 are out, does that put them in good shape to contend once they are healthy?Thanks.
Paul;The Coyotes appear to be one of those teams whose depth is so thin that a rash of injuries can literally derail an entire season. We're about to find out. If they can ride this stretch out and still hang around the playoff picture maybe they can defy the odds and sneak into the post-season. Hope so as Dave Tippett is one of the best in the business and that franchise deserves something good to happen for a change. But I wouldn't hold my breath.
Can the Buffalo Sabres continue their hot start and ride their stellar defense to the Northeast Division Title? I don't think the Bruins look all that sharp and when Vanek, Roy, and Pominville pick up the scoring, you have quite a dangerous combination of offense and defense.
Darren; I, too, think the Sabres are the real deal. They have games in hand and could open up some space in a pretty mediocre Northeast Division by the time Christmas rolls around. What impresses me is that the Sabres are getting help from up and down the line-up. Remind me of the Sabres of the first two post-lockout seasons in terms of their balance and speed.
Scott, If Kovalchuk doesn't resign, would the Kings be looking to possibly acquire him?
Bill; Yes. I would think the Kings will be among the first on the phone to Don Waddell if it looks like the Thrash can't get a deal done. How good would Kovalchuk look in a Kings' jersey?
Thanks folks. Same time next week? And drop by our 'Game of the Week' on Thursday night. This week Boston at Atlanta.