Hello all. Welcome back. Let's talk some hockey.
Hey Scott, Do you think that Quenville should be looking to give more starts to Antti Niemi? He has 3 shutouts in 7 starts with 6 wins. I know that's a small sample but still impressive. Huet hasn't been awful but I wonder at times. Thanks
Zachary; It's a debate that will continue to rage in Chicago throughout the season and will no doubt heat up come playoff time. I wouldn't be surprised to see Joel Quenneville give both tenders lots of playing time around the Olympic break (before and after) and then make a choice about who his starter will be with a few weeks left and let him get into a groove. I am guessing it will be Huet but Quenneville will want to give Niemi lots of work just in case.
Todd Bertuzzi the hero again 4 goals in 2 games, 2 ot winners. Is this bertuzzi from the vancover days before his 1 year suspension.
Josh; Hard to tell. Saw both goals against Anaheim and they were scored from down low and in close respectively and that's where he's got to be to be successful. The knock on him is that he doesn't go to those high-traffic areas enough to be what he was in Vancouver at his prime. The Wings are going to need him to be that kind of guy if they're thinking of a long playoff run - assuming they make the playoffs at all.
Every year you guys say the Devils are done for and every year they end up back in first place. What gives?
Rebecca; I have and will continue to eat my fair share of crow over the Devils and their surprising successes - at least until the playoffs. But today I had them at the top of the power rankings where I think they are full value for being number one. Pretty amazing given their injuries and pretty average group of talent.
The Sabres went 3-1 this week including wins over Washington and Chicago allowing a combined 1 goal against, and you dropped them one place in the power rankings! What gives?!?!
Adam; Fair question. They are technically 9th overall in league standings and I have them 8th. You don't want them to peak in December do you?
With the Rangers in such a funk lately what is the move or moves that make cap sense to bring the Rangers back if possible at all?
Scott; Well, the Rangers may get Brandon Dubinsky back as early as tonight although I noticed he'd gone 10 straight without a goal before he got hurt so expectations should be measured. But they are clearly a team that is thin down the middle and with Matt Gilroy sent to the minors the blue line has been revealed as maybe too young to compete at a playoff level (or too overpaid is you're talking Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival). But with their cap problems help in the form of bringing in an outside body will be difficult. And oh yeah, the team's best player and top goaltender has been in a funk for the past six weeks. Better play from Lundqvist will go a long way to helping to cover those other blemishes.
do you think LA will let Frolov walk and what are the chances the J. Bernier gets a call-up to the big club?
Big LA Daddy; I think the chances are pretty good unless he has some sort of epiphany and becomes a Terry Murray guy. The interesting thing will be whether Dean Lombardi can find a deal before the trade deadline or whether he hangs on to Frolov for the playoffs (sounds pretty good doesn't if Kings' fans?) and then lets him walk July 1. Either way Frolov will have to play a lot more consistently to get a big paycheck if he's looking to cash in on the open market.
As for Bernier, barring injury I would say the Kings will want him to play as much as he can rather than having him sit on the bench in L.A.
Can the Flyers still salvage their season with a few moves (creativity due to cap problems), or are we (Flyer fans) looking at a major change in comparison to a few years ago in order to change the mindset of the team?
Stevo; I think the Flyers have all the tools to get back in the hunt. And they're only four points out of 8th with three games in hand. But they've got to get their heads on. Peter Laviolette is a good, tough coach but unless the young guys like Jeff Carter and Mike Richards start to respond it may force GM Paul Holmgren into some sort of major move. He's shown he's not afraid to pull the trigger on big parts of his line-up so Mr. Carter may find himself on the move if he can't get with the program.
None of the Kings players rank in the top 5 for any major stats besides Goaltender Wins. They're neither an overly high-scoring team, or an incredible defensive team. So how do you explain their amazing success so far this season, and do you think they can keep it up?-Harrison
Harrison; Great question and maybe it's just one of those team chemistry things. I think of Pittsburgh the last couple of years that weren't necessarily at the top of the statistical categories but found ways to win. The Kings have added terrific leadership in Rob Scuderi and Ryan Smyth (I know, he's hurt) and the young players seem to be thriving under Terry Murray which I must admit surprises me. It's a great story and now it's time to start wondering what kind of impression they might make come playoff time.
What is wrong with the Sharks? They have suddenly lost their motivation to play.
Sana; I'm not sure it's a motivation thing or just a bump in the road. The Sharks are certainly talented enough and well-coached. The power play has stunk lately and sometimes when you're a skilled team you think things will come easily and they don't. They have a light sked this week and maybe finding themselves out of first place for the first time in weeks will act as a wake-up call. Makes you wonder why they'd need one, of course, but there you have it.
Thanks for answering my question, though I have to wonder if you can really consider Zack Parise an "average" talent?
Rebecca; You are right. Zach Parise is a world talent but I was thinking big picture in terms of the Devils' overall talent especially stacked up against Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia or Boston.
Scott - who are teh impact scoring wingers you expect to be available at the the deadline this year? Im wondering who the bruins can get to ride shotgun with savard. Who do you think would be a good fit?
Sean; Off the top of my head I know there will be lots of suitors for Ray Whitney in Carolina. The guy's a point machine and a Cup winner. Not sure he's the 'sniper' the Bruins would want to go with Savard but he'll be available. Alexander Frolov could be available pending how the Kings want to proceed with a guy that doesn't really fit for them. Doug Weight will be on the move and can play some wing but more a set-up guy than a scorer. And of course there's Ilya Kovalchuk. Played with Savard in Atlanta and will cost a king's ransom but sometimes a Stanley Cup is worth it.
Michael Nylander was assigned to the AHL again. When do you think this situation will finally be resolved?
Chris; Lots of questions on Nylander and just heard from the Caps' crack PR staff (Nate Ewell is a god among PR folks) and he says Nylander did agree to the demotion (he had to okay it given his no-movement clause) and flew to Toronto but didn't get all the paperwork done in time to play against the Marlies. One assumes that by playing in the AHL Nylander may get into shape and become attractive to another NHL team heading towards the trade deadline. The problem will be that he has one more year left on his deal. The real money owed next year is $3 million but his cap hit is close to $5 million. He needs to get with Jaromir Jagr, that's what he needs to do.
Do you know the extent of Varly's injury? The caps play like the best team in the league when he starts (12-1-2 I believe), which is a great testament to this ability, but when someone else starts they get shut out by Buffalo and lost 6-3 to Toronto. What are your thoughts?
Rob; Following on a Caps theme Varlamov timetable will be a little bit more close tomorrow the Caps folks tell me. And you're right, disappointing outing for Michal Neuvirth who was called up to back up Jose Theodore who has struggled of late as well. Varlamov has been terrific and been a bit under the radar perhaps because he got so much attention during the playoffs last year.
Is there any chance that Tyler Myers could play for team USA if he's passed up by team Canada? I noticed his place of birth is Texas. Or do players have to commit to a team before the rosters are chosen?
B-Diddy; Asked this question myself a couple of weeks back during our weekly Thursday night 'Game of the Week' chat and was informed by US GM Brian Burke that Myers played for Canada at the World Juniors and therefore is ineligible to play for anyone but Canada internationally. Bad break for the U.S.
How about Myers? 8 assists in the last 9 games...he's been very impressive this year.
Gerry; See above (or is it below?) but a dark horse to win rookie of the year if he keeps his level of play up.
Im wondering if you think the Hurricanes will ever come back from there loseing streak?
Nate; I actually thought they might get it going with Cam Ward coming back and Manny Legace turning in some nice work but after a couple of nice wins they've fallen into that pattern of staying close and then falling to pieces. Aaron Ward put on waivers today. It's ugly in Raleigh.
Just another update on Nylander. Apparently his no-move clause does not extend into the final year of his contract which will make it easier for the Caps to bury him if they can't find a taker for him or they decide not to buy him out.
As much as I love the Thrashers' depth a defense, doesn't it make sense to trade one of their top 4. After all, there's only so much ice time to spread around between Hainsey, Kubina, Enstrom and Bogosian, and each one should be able to net them something in return.
Lefty; I think the Thrashers are plenty happy to have the most defensive depth in the history of the franchise so I doubt if they'll be looking to move any of those pieces.
Scott do you see the Flames adding anything else before the deadline to get a little push? I like this team a lot but come playoffs lately they seem a little flat. Your thoughts?
Sean; They're a little flat now, actually. I mentioned this in my Monday column but I think they've got problems down the middle. With Olli Jokinen on pace for his worst season in almost a decade the Flames can't compete with other top teams down the middle.
Speaking of Olympic teams, why does everyone consider Mike Green of the Caps to be "on the bubble" for team Canada? He's towards the top of the league in goals by defensemen, and he's just a solid player all around. What's the question about him?
Catherine; Had this debate with my colleague Pierre LeBrun last week and I think he has had to fight the perception that he's one-dimensional, a cowboy that can't play the game in his own end. Steve Yzerman has already said he won't take players he has to hide (ie. a player who can't play at both ends of the ice) and given the depth along the Canadian blue line I think Green will be on the outside looking in Dec. 30 when the team is announced. Sadly, he may be a much improved defensive player this year.
What are the chances the two young King defenseman get taken to Vancouver (Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty)? Johnson is so good in shootouts, and Doughty couldn't have helped his chances any more through this point.
Lucas; I think Jack Johnson is a lock to make the U.S. team. Drew Doughty is in the same boat as Mike Green in that if you take him who do you leave off the team; Brent Seabrook, Jay Bouwmeester? Ultimately I think Doughty's inexperience may keep him off the squad even though he's been a force for a very good Kings team.
Who's the most underappreciated player in the NHL? Before this year I'd have thought Duncan Keith and Ryan Miller were good candidates for the title, but both of them are finally getting the respect they've long deserved. Who's your choice?
Mel; That's a great question and you're right about both those guys.I think Jordan Staal is a guy that has so much going for him and he is under the radar with Crosby and Malkin in Pittsburgh. He's on my Canadian Olympic team, that's for sure. I think Ilya Bryzgalov has been a tower of power for Phoenix and hasn't got much love in spite of great numbers. I think Jamie Langenbrunner has been very, very good for a New Jersey team that is very much under the radar. Andy Greene is having a great year for the Devils, too. And Lubomir Visnovsky has been a point machine for Edmonton and finally I will mention one of my favorites Stephane Robidas in Dallas. All heart with a surprising amount of talent.
What's your best guess for how many more starts it will take for Brodeur to take sole possession of the shutout record?
Stu; I am good at predictions. I say four.
Who is Matt Moulson?
Stinky; Great story, no? Drafted in a round that no longer exists everyone told him he couldn't skate now all he does is pile up points playing on the top line for the Islanders. Nice kid. I had a chance to chat with him in St. Louis recently and very much appreciates what he's accomplished and doesn't take anything for granted.
I'm certainly pleased with the play of Tavares this year, but I'm not sure I see in him the quality that Crosby, Malkin, Joe Thornton have - the ability to make other players around him better. Do you see Taveres as being just a great player, or a great player who also makes other players great?
Eddie; Further to our Isles topic I think he's been terrific. He's a poised kid, big, talented, I don't know if he's Crosby-like but he's a talent and I think the kind of player you can build around offensively.
how do the devils have "average talent"? they have 7 top 6 forwards (parise, zajac, langenbrunner, elias, rolston, bergfors, clarkson) when healthy, plenty of grit (clarkson, zubrus, niedermayer, pandolfo, mcammond) and i challenge you to find a team with 3 better puck movers than martin, oduya, and andy greene. throw in some hungry youngsters like zharkov, halischuk, and corrente, and there are very few (if any) teams with as much organizational depth. i'd take that lineup over the 3 man show in washington or the 2 man show in pittsburgh any day
joe; Love the passion the Devils fans have for their squad. You can't even praise them without getting an earful. Bottom line for the Devils, talented or not, they still haven't gotten out of the second round since 2003 and that's the ultimate measuring stick, no?
Mike Rupp is a surprise to say the least... however the Penns have never given Crosby a legit winger (Hossa is of course the exception if for only a little while). Do you think that either of the boys (Tangardi or Caputi) will ever be that wing or was bugsy Malone the best that was ever in the cards?
Niko; Welcome to the salary cap world. I think it's way too early to say on either Tangardi or Caputi and as you know Malone played almost exclusively with Evgeni Malkin and Petr Sykora. And in defense of Bill Guerin the wily vet is having a pretty darned good year on Crosby's flank. Agreed it would be nice for Ray Shero to land a Hossa or Kovalchuk or someone of that calibre but that's not going to happen.
I'm hearing rumors Vinnie gets moved to LA. That would be a bad fit for LA and there salary situation and the young guys, but a good deal for us no?
Rich; Only way Vincent Lecavalier goes is if he asks to go as he has a no-move clause and seems to like it in Tampa even though he's having a miserable year by his standards. In some ways it seems as though a move might be the best thing for the talented center and the Kings would be front and center (as it were) if he was on the market. So would the Rangers and Habs and Flyers if we had to guess.
Let's say Thomas and Rask maintain their stats for the rest of this year. Would the B's consider doing what Montreal did a couple of years ago (trading Huet and giving the reins to Price) and deal Thomas at the deadline?
Kent; It's an attractive option to consider, moving a veteran for a first-round pick or a top prospect but I doubt if the Bruins would go that route especially given what happened to Montreal when Price spit the bit in the second round of the playoffs against Philly. He has yet to recover from that and the Bruins won't expose Rask to that kind of pressure without having a Tim Thomas-like back-up plan, assuming of course, they decide at some point Rask if their guy this season.
Scott Will detroit make the playoffs or will they bust this year?
Nick; I think the Wings are still a playoff team. They'll get healthier and healthier and will be there when the dust clear in mid-April.
Still believe, as I think you said a few weeks ago, that the Avs will not make the playoffs?
Dennis; Every week it becomes harder and harder to believe the Avs will be anywhere but the playoffs come April. Credit to Joe Sacco and his band of overachievers. Still a long way to go though.
Do you think Anton Volchenkov is worth a big investment on the Senators part? Will we hear the dreaded KHL rumors with him as well?
Bob; Every Russian NHLer will be the subject of KHL rumors but only those whose careers in the NHL are on the rocks will end up going back home. After all, who better to know how lousy it is there than the Russians themselves?
will the blues make the playoffs
ryan; I'm still a believer although watching them gag up a 3-0 lead against Edmonton last week was tough to watch. But they've got the tools to get there again.
Thanks all. Let's reconvene here a week from now. And stop by Thursday night for our game of the week action.