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December 21, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Scott Burnside

Scott Burnside
  (4:00 PM)

So, where were we?

Chris Schreyer (Johnstown, PA)

Before the game tonight, who would you pick in a eastern conference finals: Devils or Pens?

Scott Burnside
  (4:01 PM)

Chris; Pens in six. Maybe five.

Jim (Grand Rapids MI)

Hi Scott! Thanks for reading my question. The Wings have not been a complete failure so far (considering their amounts of injuries would completley derail other teams)-but do you see them taking on too much water to save the ship or do you honestly see them getting better with more and more players coming back soon. I for one believe the latter. If there's one team that can do it-it's Detroit. Who wants to play an underdog Wings team in the first round?

Scott Burnside
  (4:03 PM)

Jim; A number of questions about the plight/situation in which the Red Wings find themselves as we close in on the halfway point in the season. I think they may be a case of that old chestnut, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. They will get healthier and Lidstrom and Rafalski will actually put up some points and they will make the playoffs and they will make life miserable for a team like Chicago or San Jose in the first round.

Andrew (Chicago, IL)

With the recent play of the Blackhawks goalies, it looks like there really are no specific weaknesses on this team. Granted this could just be a hot streak but if their goalies keep this up do you see them finishing anywhere but at the top of the Western conference?

Scott Burnside
  (4:04 PM)

Andrew; I do not although top is a relative term. I think they will battle San Jose for the top seed but regardless of where they finish I like them to go to the Cup final and I think Huet and Niemi have shown they can carry the water.

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Scott, what was your favorite Stanley Cup Finals matchup of the last decade...2001 Avs-Devils, 2003 Devils-Ducks, 2004 Lightning-Flames, 2006 Canes-Oiler, 2009 Pens-Wings? What was the most memorable Cup presentation...2001 Ray Bourque finally, 2004 Andreychuk finally, 2006 Brind'Amour finally and cries, 2007 Neidermayer brother to brother, 2009 Sidney Crosby first time?

Scott Burnside
  (4:05 PM)

Jesse; That's the great thing about every Cup final is that there is a moment that you'll always carry with you. You've outlined most of the highlights but I think the way the Pens kept coming, first against Washington then against Detroit would probably be my favorite. Til this spring of course.

Brendan (Bernardsville, NJ)

What are the chances that Wayne Gretzky ends up in New York within in the next two years as either the president, GM, or coach, and which position do you think he would take?

Scott Burnside
  (4:07 PM)

Brendan; The Rangers are such a funny team (funny as in strange, not funny ha, ha) it's hard to predict where they'll be at in six months let alone two years. How Glen Sather has managed to keep his job this long defies logic. As for Gretzky I'm not sure whether he'll return as coach or GM or some other front office type or where. I know the new group in Phoenix would love to have him on board there but there's a lot of water under that bridge. I think most people think Messier/Gretzky together in New York but something doesn't feel right about that happening.

joe (pit)

why was malkin not a top ten player of the decade

Scott Burnside
  (4:07 PM)

joe; Uhm, because he's not one.

CanonD78 (PacNW)

With Nashville, LA and Phoenix continuing to prove the doubters wrong when do you officailly write off the Red Wings for the postseason?

Scott Burnside
  (4:08 PM)

Canon; As discussed above I'm not sure you can. Certainly not now. And the fact the Preds, Kings and Coyotes are having terrific years makes the road more difficult for the Wings but it doesn't exclude them from being a playoff team as well. And as the Coyotes will tell you, it's a long way between here and there.

Andy (Huntington Beach)

I think the Ducks are playing well as of late. Even though they do not have Pronger, do you think they can put together a run similar to last season? And when are they going to sign Bobby Ryan, he is on fire.

Scott Burnside
  (4:09 PM)

Andy; Ducks are playing better (who the heck is Dan Sexton?) and I think will be in the hunt for a playoff spot. As for Bobby Ryan I think he's a lock to make the U.S. Olympic team and as for signing him, it'll happen.

Issey (Chicago)

Why are you such a hater on the Hawks? How can you argue with lowest GAA and shots against in the league? Surely they cracked your top 5 this week.

Scott Burnside
  (4:10 PM)

Issey; A sign of how far the 'Hawks have come when fans complain that they're ranked 6th in the league. My colleague Mr. LeBrun has them at the top of the heap this week. I'd have had them second behind the Devils. And actually I happen to quite like the team.

Bruce (Hockey Town)

Odds of Ottawa Sens making the playoffs ???

Scott Burnside
  (4:11 PM)

Bruce; 50-50 but that's a function of how many lousy teams there are in the east as opposed to how good the Sens may or may not be. Losing Spezza hurts and Leclaire has to be better when he gets back.

Josh (San Jose)

So your telling me detroit gets in at the 7th or 8th seed and plays my sharks. That sounds horrible... so after detroit knocks us out or an early playoff exit again could heads or players role in san jose.

Scott Burnside
  (4:13 PM)

Josh; Well, one would have thought more heads would have rolled over the last couple of years but give the Sharks' ownership credit for not making knee-jerk moves. Still, another early exit (first or second round) and it's hard to figure how Doug Wilson hangs on. As for re-signing Patrick Marleau and Evgeni Nabokov a difficult situation for Wilson as they're fine players who have failed to deliver in the clutch. Personally, I like them to go to a Western Conference final against Chicago.

Luke (Saint Paul)

The Wild have been extremely hot, but getting no press. Do they have a shot for the playoffs? Was the early season just a product of learning a new system?

Scott Burnside
  (4:15 PM)

Luke; I had a chance to talk to head coach Todd Richards a week or so ago and he was pretty candid about worrying about the message getting through and how difficult the early weeks were. But you're right, much better now (aside from having your equipment truck go up in flames) but the west is so competitive it's going to take a lot to get into the post-season after the Wild's lousy start. Personally, I don't know if they've got enough offensive depth to get them into the dance.

David (Silver Spring, MD)

With Varly back and in top form do you see the Caps taking the spot in the east in the finals? Or will NJ or Pitt send them home early again?

Scott Burnside
  (4:18 PM)

David; I think those three teams will end up battling for the top seed in the east and of course the 'loser' between New Jersey and Pittsburgh will end up with the fourth seed so those rankings will be important. I am selfish and am hoping for a Pittsburgh/Washington re-match. What a tilt that would be.

Brendan (Irvine CA)

Scott, theres a lot of talk surrounding the upcoming announcement of Team Canada's Olympic roster. I've also heard Steve Yzerman talk about creating more chemistry. To me, that means inviting guys that have already played extensively together. Do you think Yzerman will add all of San Jose's first line? And do you think its likely that TC's committee will add pairs of guys like Getzlaf and Perry, Richards and Carter, or even defensive pairings like Pronger and Niedermayer or Bouwmeester and Regehr? Your thoughts on what the good choices are.

Scott Burnside
  (4:20 PM)

Brendan; I think the feeling after the Canadian flame-out in Turin was that they lacked enough cohesiveness. And I think there's a certain value to having guys like Thornton and Heatley (and maybe Marleau) and Getzlaf and Perry and maybe Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith. But I also think you can worry too much about that and lose sight of the players or kinds of players you want on your team both in terms of skill and personality.

Sean (Pittsburgh, PA)

Bill Guerin's played very well the last two weeks. What are his chances of sneaking on to Team USA? His leadership would also be a valuable asset.

Scott Burnside
  (4:21 PM)

Sean; I mentioned this today in my column but if it was up to me (and oddly enough it isn't) I'd take Bill Guerin ahead of a guy like Mike Modano (even though Modano is a center). I agree, I think Guerin would provide a nice element to that U.S. dressing room.

alex (New Jersey)

After marty retires which who knows when that will be Do you think the devils will still be able to make the playoffs year after year?

Scott Burnside
  (4:23 PM)

alex; Well, when Mr. Brodeur hangs them up about 2020 likely not. Seriously, the Devils seem unconcerned about developing a successor to Brodeur but, well, why worry when it appears you don't have to.

Justin (New Jersey)

Scott, Why do you think the Devils don't have a chance against the Penguins? They are still missing three starters and have beaten Pittsburgh 4-1 in Pitt twice already.

Scott Burnside
  (4:24 PM)

Justin; I am thinking playoff series and I am thinking about a Pens team that is as good down the middle as any team in the NHL, has clutch goaltending and an underappreciated blue line. I just don't see the Devils matching up very well over a seven-game series and regular season results mean almost nothing, especially assuming these two teams wouldn't meet until the second round or a conference final.

Brad (STL)

The Blues off to a bad start looks like they will turn it around but will they enoguh to be in the playoffs

Scott Burnside
  (4:25 PM)

Brad; Very disappointing start for the Blues. Too many expectations and not enough production from their veterans so far. But they are a team that has shown they can win in bunches and I think they will sneak into the post-season.

Scott (NYC)

Why can't the Sabres get any love? They have arguably the best goalie in the league currently...

Scott Burnside
  (4:27 PM)

Scott; I think Ryan Miller is getting lots of love, in fact Mr. LeBrun's blog for tomorrow is on Ryan Miller, the great hope for a U.S. medal in Vancouver. He's been terrific and Tyler Myers has gotten lots of press as a possible rookie of the year. But I agree there is a certain sameness to the rest of the Sabres line-up. Even Thomas Vanek, theoretically the offensive star of the team, has been only so-so thus far. Better to be ignored now, though, than in mid-April.

Russ (Chicago(via Bogota, Colombia))

Theo Fleury recently said that he was worthy of being a hall of famer. if he is, then Steve Larmer should be in there already. Your thoughts?

Scott Burnside
  (4:29 PM)

Russ; I don't see either of them in my Hall of Fame.

Steeeevie (Palms, CA)

in your expert opinion, there is no way in hell that Kovy signs with Philly... where is he going to play next year? Boston, Toronto, ???

Scott Burnside
  (4:30 PM)

Steeeevie; I think it's no better than 50-50 now that Kovalchuk signs in Atlanta. This week will go a long way to determining whether a long-term deal gets done. If not here look for him to be shopped to the Bruins, Kings, Rangers, possibly the Flyers and even Montreal. One thing for sure, the Thrashers won't keep him and let him walk in July for free.

Tommi (Finland)

What do think is the secret of so many good Finnish goaltenders on nhl?

Scott Burnside
  (4:31 PM)

Tommi; The vodka. Okay, just kidding. Sort of. Honestly, don't know but it's interesting that almost all of them spent lots of time in Finland before coming to North America even though many honed their skills in the AHL. Makes life interesting for Jari Kurri and the rest of the Finnish Olympic brain trust, no?

Jim (MN)

Is it time to get ride of the OTL point? In what world does it make sense to have dallas in the playoffs(if the season ended today) and leave Vancouver out when Vancouver has 5 more wins. Makes no sense.

Scott Burnside
  (4:32 PM)

Jim; Agreed, rewarding losses in overtime and shootout with a point is a bit self-defeating and mars the standings in the kinds of cases you point out. But I would be surprised if there is a change because GMs and owners are reluctant to mess with motherhood issues like the point system for fear of disrupting fans' routines.

Brian (Cape Cod)

What is missing from the Bruins? Did Kessel really mean that much to their offense?

Scott Burnside
  (4:35 PM)

Brian; Well, I'm not sure you ever really lose a guy with Kessel's skill set without having a few bumps and it's been interesting to see Marc Savard struggle to put up points (he's point-less in five I believe). Still, the Bruins should be better than they have been.

christopher (Pitt, PA)

Pens vs Hawks---NHL's new dream matchup? and who wins?

Scott Burnside
  (4:35 PM)

christopher; Pens in seven.

Dave (Utah)

Ray Shero has shown no fear of making reasonably big trades just prior to the deadline. I realize rosters are frozen now, but if you are Shero, what kind of a trade do you look to make this year? (if any)

Scott Burnside
  (4:37 PM)

Dave; Yes, Mr. Shero hasn't lacked for guts the last couple of trade deadlines and I expect he will be looking to tinker more come early March. Obviously if he can add a skilled winger to play with either Malkin or Crosby without upsetting his cap apple cart or trading one of his top young stars he'd do it. The nice thing for Shero is that with Goligoski and Letang emerging as solid blue liners who can move the puck he doesn't really have any glaring line-up holes.

Thomas (Swe)

Hi,Related to the goalie question above. Ive seen some interesting young goalies this year. Such as Quick, Gustavsson, Rask etc.Wich goalies do you see being "top of the line" goalies in the future? Alternatively, wich ones would you say you find interesting at the moment?

Scott Burnside
  (4:39 PM)

Thomas; Welcome. It's early to tell on any of them, really, but I think the Kings really believe Jonathan Quick is the real deal. He'll get a chance to prove it as the Kings should be a playoff team. Gustavsson may be the back-up to Henrik Lundqvist in Vancouver (Johan Hedberg?) but won't likely get a playoff sniff this year. Rask is interesting because he's played more than people thought and been very good. Indeed, he's been the best goalie the Bruins have had this season and may well end up the starter by the end of the season.

Brian (Cape Cod)

How does a rookie (Tuukka Rask) end up being the starting goalie over last season's Vezina's Throphy winner and all-star Tim Thomas? PS - I saw a Zamboni drive down Lansdowne St and thrugh the centerfield fence at Fenway. Weird.

Scott Burnside
  (4:41 PM)

Brian; Come playoff time Claude Julien will go with the guy that gets them to the dance and right now Rask has been that guy and may be that guy by the end of the regular season. Not a bad back-up, though, to have the defending Vezina Trophy winner ready to come on in relief (using a baseball term there as a nod to the Winter Classic).

CC (Atlanta)

NHL dream Finals involves Washington, not Pitt. Why do Pens fans have such an inflated sense of themselves?

Scott Burnside
  (4:41 PM)

CC; I think the NHL dreams of any final not featuring the Phoenix Coyotes and the New York Islanders.

Carlos (Los Angeles, CA)

Scott, Will Doughty be the best D-Man in the next 5 years? Thanks.

Scott Burnside
  (4:44 PM)

Carlos; Lots of love for Drew Doughty around the NHL world. Right now he might find himself on a Norris Trophy ballot and he may just end up on the Canadian Olympic team something I thought would have been beyond a long-shot when we were at the Canadian orientation camp in August. So, yes, I think it's possible Doughty will be a Norris winner in the next five years.

CC (Atlanta)

So a Florida-Edmonton finals gets Bettman excited?

Scott Burnside
  (4:44 PM)

CC; Fair point.

Tim (Virginia)

Hi Mr. Burnside, Could you recommend any great hockey books or any other resources for getting to know the game better?Thanks and happy holidays!

Scott Burnside
  (4:46 PM)

Tim; My pleasure. I would read The Game by Ken Dryden and Home Game written by Dryden and Roy MacGregor one of the finest writers in the business. You could always just read ESPN.com's hockey pages every day. Did I just write that? Oh, and rent Slapshot. That should get you on your way.

Mike Fisher (Ottawa, ON)

Scott, did you hear I just proposed to Carrie Underwood and she said yes! Can life get any better?...yes if I make Team Canada.

Scott Burnside
  (4:46 PM)

Mike; Congrats. I still think you and Carrie can go ahead and book that trip to Disneyworld in February.

Kent (Jackson,MS)

Scotty,How have the Predators been able to have such a viable farm system over the years? Here is a team of mainly no one you have heard of, and they are tearing it up....

Scott Burnside
  (4:49 PM)

Kent; Kudos first to GM David Poile and his scouting/management staff. They are top-rate (needless to say) but have managed to collect top prospects without necessarily having high draft picks. Their blue line which is almost entirely homegrown is a marvel in today's NHL. And offensively they've managed to find young guys to fill roles and produce under the radar so kudos, too, to Barry Trotz and his coaching staff for getting a lot from a little, relatively speaking. All of this accomplished during a time when former owner Craig Leipold forced Poile to strip away talent like Paul Kariya, Kimmo Timonen, Tomas Vokoun and Peter Forsberg and the new ownership group has little money to spend on free agents.

Thomas (Swe)

Just a follow up to the "young goalie" comment.Johan Hedberg can (unfourtunatly) not play for Sweden in the Olympics. He was not on their original 66 player (or whatever it was) list. The coach commented this in the media, saying he would love to have Hedberg (and Bergfors in NJ), but when he made the list they werent as hot as they are now. Too bad about Hedberg, I played against him and he is a very good goalie.So probably Lundqvist and Gustavsson will be two of the goalies in Vancouver for Sweden.

Scott Burnside
  (4:50 PM)

Thomas; I did not know that. Wow. What a loss for the Swedes who continue to lose players to injury.

JIM (CHICAGO)

DON'T YOU THINK DUNCAN KEITH SHOULD FIND HIMSELF ON THE NORRIS BALLOT THIS YEAR?

Scott Burnside
  (4:52 PM)

Jim; Barring injury I think it's a given and frankly right now he might be the front-runner. He's had a great year and is a lock to make the Canadian Olympic team.

Adam (Boston)

Any truth that the Flyers are shopping Carter? If so, what would you say about a potential Rask and picks for Carter trade?

Scott Burnside
  (4:54 PM)

Adam; A couple of questions about the Flyers' dressing room problems (and their obvious on-ice issues) and I don't think there's any doubt the room is in chaos. I don't doubt that GM Paul Holmgren is trying to shop Jeff Carter as a way of shaking up his line-up. Carter's production is way down and he would be a valuable asset for another team looking to fill a scoring void. As for the idea that Chris Pronger is trying to take over the dressing room for captain Mike Richards it's clear there is a leadership vacuum on that team and if I'm Peter Laviolette or Holmgren I would relish the idea of Pronger taking charge.

Anonymous (Anywhere in the South)

Why don't you ever answer questions about teams in the Southeast? You practically have to be forced to answer anything about Atlanta, Carolina, Florida, or Tampa. You realize there are teams in the Southeast other than Washington right?

Scott Burnside
  (4:55 PM)

Anonymous; Is that a question? Or a rant? Always happy to answer questions from around the league and try to keep things as balanced as possible. But you can't get blood from a stone. As it were. Love the southeast, by the way. Now, did you actually have a question?

Stu (Chicago, IL)

After some truly disheartening outings, can Toskala still command the respect of his teammates and be a regular? And if not in Toronto, then elsewhere?

Scott Burnside
  (4:56 PM)

Stu; Hard to imagine Toskala having any kind of future in Toronto and certainly there is no chance he would be re-signed by the Leafs as his contract expires at the end of the season. But somewhere else, sure, he's shown he's got the tools to put up quality starts.

Scott Burnside
  (4:56 PM)

Stu; Hard to imagine Toskala having any kind of future in Toronto and certainly there is no chance he would be re-signed by the Leafs as his contract expires at the end of the season. But somewhere else, sure, he's shown he's got the tools to put up quality starts.

Hayden (Logan, Utah)

Ovie, best player in the league, right?

Scott Burnside
  (4:57 PM)

Hayden; Love Ovie. Best? Until I see him with a Stanley Cup ring or I see the Caps in at least a conference final I will hold back on that kind of label.

Joe (NY)

Is there much regret in Tampa for not pulling some sort of Vinny trade before his NTC/NMC kicked in?

Scott Burnside
  (4:58 PM)

Joe; Obviously not publicly but I suspect there may be some buyer's remorse on both sides of that deal right now.

Frank (Saint-Jean-sur-Richlieu, Canada)

What team do you think has the most immediate goalie need? There are a few guys who are sitting on the sidelines and could plug holes (Manny Fernandez) and a few on the block that could be reasonable acquisitions (Jaroslav Halak, Martin Biron)

Scott Burnside
  (5:00 PM)

Frank; I think the Flyers' goaltending needs are most pronounced but they also have a whole other gaggle of issues that are at play there as well. It will be interesting to see what Bob Gainey does in Montreal if he moves Halak, whether he brings in an experienced back-up like Biron. Marty Turco is another guy that could be on the move pending where the Stars are in the standings come deadline time. And Anaheim GM Bob Murray would love to J.S. Giguere and his big contract.

Scott Burnside
  (5:01 PM)

Thanks all. Enjoy a happy and peaceful holiday break. We'll catch up next Monday. Cheers.