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January 7, 3:00 PM ET
Thursday Night Hockey chat

Buzzmaster
  (3:23 PM)

We'll be back for the first Thursday Night Hockey chat of the new year on Thursday, starting at 3 p.m. ET! Barry Melrose, Matthew Barnaby and Pierre LeBrun will all be here!

Barry Melrose
  (3:02 PM)

Congratulations to the USA World Junior Team!

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Barry, do the Pens make it 4-0 on the season versus the Flyers tonight? Over/under on number of fights?

Barry Melrose
  (3:03 PM)

I think the Flyers are going to win. They played a good game last night and it's tough to beat a NHL team four times in one season. I'll give the edge to the Flyers. I say two fights.

Leo (CT)

Is Avery capable of playing like that every night?

Barry Melrose
  (3:04 PM)

So far, no. He shows you that once in a while and maybe for a couple of games. That might be why he's been traded so many times.

Joe (Alaska)

When do you think the NHL will go back to being on ESPN

Barry Melrose
  (3:04 PM)

I hope within a couple of years. I think if you're going to be a major sport in the United States, you have to be on ESPN.

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Will the Winter Classic in the future will be either at Citi Field Or Yankee Stadium?

Barry Melrose
  (3:05 PM)

I think it will be, maybe next year. That's one of the big things people have been talking about. The Rangers playing Washington in one of those venues. Everyone would love to see that.

Steve (Cleveland)

No one in the chats ever gives me a straight answer on this question, what can we expect out of Johan Franzen when he returns post-Olympics?

Barry Melrose
  (3:06 PM)

It will be interesting. I personally think we won't see the real Johan Franzen until next season.

Grey (Tennessee)

Do you think the Preds will make the playoffs?

Barry Melrose
  (3:07 PM)

Yes, I think they will. They started the season slow but they have been playing well as of late. I don think they will make the playoffs.

Paul (Gilbert, Arizona)

As good as the Coyotes defense has been, there are going to be games where the offense has to win one. Do you see the Coyotes dealing at the deadline? Would a player like Gomez or Penner be good fits on a club that may need an extra spark somewhere?

Barry Melrose
  (3:09 PM)

No, until their ownership situation is dealt with they won't do anything. They have no money to make deals right now. I don't see them doing anything at the deadline.

Ryan (Springfield Va.)

Were any of you guys shocked that Brian Burke left some of the greatest USA Hockey players of their generation off the olympic team for example Mike Madano and Bill Gurien?

Barry Melrose
  (3:10 PM)

Brian Burke made it cleat that this is a different era. If you read his quote after he picked the team, he wanted to start fresh. A new era starts in Vancouver.

ammen (ladner)

why wasn't Henrik Sedin in your list of hart trophy players when he is currently FIRST in the NHL for points, so far in this season he has done this with less playing time than all the other top point producers (henrik in in the 50 somethings for ice time). Not only this but he was playing with his brother injured! and many other injuries on our team, he is the reason why our team is in playoff position.

Barry Melrose
  (3:12 PM)

I think because he is in Vancouver and isn't really seen by East Coast press. He does what he needs to do very quietly on and off the court and I think that is one of the reasons he was left off the list.

Matt (Michigan)

Is Detroit still a playoff team in your eyes?

Barry Melrose
  (3:13 PM)

A month ago I would have said yes but I'm not so sure now. They are close to 10 games out of the playoff spot and means they will have to win five more games than the top three teams in the West. Right now I will have to say no they won't make the playoffs.

Julian (Oregon)

Hi Barry! I'd love to ask this to Barnaby, but I'm not sure he'd give me an honest answer. Who do you think is the most overrated goon/fighter of recent times?

Barry Melrose
  (3:13 PM)

That's a good question.

Barry Melrose
  (3:14 PM)

If you go to the NHL as a tough guy that means that you've had a lot of fights on the lower levels. If you make it as far as the NHL known as a fighter, than you're a tough guy.

Jason (Boston)

Hey Barry, got a picture with you outside the Classic this year, thanks for being so kind! How do you see the Bruins playing if (and when?) they return to full health? They are playing pretty well with injuries right now....

Barry Melrose
  (3:16 PM)

I think they are a playoff team but I don't think they are as good as they were last year. They have trouble scoring and will have to win a lot of games with their defense and goaltending. It will be tough for them in the East.

Ned (Buffalo)

Barry - do you think Anderson got a fair shake for the 3rd goalie spot on Team USA. Do you think Lombardi's involvement in Team USA might've been the tiebreaker?

Barry Melrose
  (3:17 PM)

No, I think they wanted a young goaltender. Smeone that will be apart of the system for a long time.

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

I was at the Winter Classic and asked EJ Hradek this same question. What did you think of James Taylor singing the national anthem? Could anybody have LESS energy for a hockey game? We fans in centerfield belted out Oh Canada and were juiced up to do the same for the Star Spangled Banner, but Taylor gave us nothing. Where was Bruins regular singer Rene Rancourt with his patented point and fist pump? Regardless, how sick was the stealth bomber?

Barry Melrose
  (3:18 PM)

Don't forget James Taylor is a New England guy and that's why he sung. I love James so it's hard for me to criticize him.

Bill (Virginia)

Hey Bary, The Caps seem to be making a lot of moves to get everything in position for a big trade before the deadline. Any big name Dmen that you can see them going after?

Barry Melrose
  (3:20 PM)

It all depends which teams are out of the playoffs. They only team out fight now in Carolina but once we get closer to the deadline more teams will join Carolina on the outside looking in. Until then we won't know too much. It's a wait and see who's in and who's out and then teams will start shopping players.

Toby (Alabama)

Barry - looking over the Olympic rosters, one name that jumped out was Ziggy Palffy. I know you didn't overlap with him in LA, but why is it that we never hear talk of him coming back to the NHL? When he left he was a point-per-game player, and he's younger than Jagr and Forsberg.

Barry Melrose
  (3:22 PM)

They can make a lot of money is Europe with less games and travel. Players can actually make more money over there than they make in the NHL.

Mack (Ontario)

Barry, where do you think the Flyers will finish in the Eastern Conference?

Barry Melrose
  (3:22 PM)

I think they will finish sixth. They will finish strong and find a way into that sixth spot.

Ryan (Springfield Va.)

What was the Canadain fans' reaction to them getting beat by the USA? With the 2011 Winter Classic I had a theory about it, have Pittsburgh vs. The Caps at RFK Staduim in DC?

Barry Melrose
  (3:24 PM)

That would be a great one but the only thing is the Redskins might still be playing. They like the ice to sit for a month and that's why they don't like doing it in NFL stadiums.

Barry Melrose
  (3:25 PM)

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the Winter Classic. It was a good one and I can't wait until next year. Hopefully we'll be in New York.

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:26 PM)

It's been a while. Winter Classic was a great success. Ovechkin named captain. Let's get to your questions.

Steve (PA)

Whats up with geno this year? Hes not playing like the old Malkin.

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:27 PM)

He has not been the same Malkin that we've become accustomed to. He is the first to admit that his play hasn't been up to par. It's only a matter of time before he plays the kind of hockey he's capable of. Bad news for the rest of the league.

Pat (Chicago)

So the Blackhawks keep rolling and we have yet to put our entire team on the ice together at any point this season. Does this team need to make any moves to win the Stanley Cup or are we good enough when Bolland gets back?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:29 PM)

Like in any sport, there are three or four teams that separate themselves from the rest of the league. The Hawks are definitely in that class. The only place that there's a little bit of a question mark is goaltending. Niemi's numbers are better than Huet's but he still hasn't been tested enough to know if he's the man. Keep an eye on this part of their game, but anyone that doesn't like the Hawks doesn't like hockey.

Ryan (Springfield Va.)

Why has Brian Burke not fired Ron Wilson, is it because he is coaching Team USA? also how long will Vesa Toskela remain the Leafs goalie?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:30 PM)

I dont think it has any reason with Wilson coaching USA. I think at times this has looked like a team that is ready to take the next step but at the end of the day, they just don't have enough talent to be any higher than they are. They have a game plan in place from management and they have to continue to grow from within the organization. They have put enough bandaids on this team for years. They are in rebuilding mode.

Steve (CT)

Aside from Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres have only a few players on the various Olympic teams. Is that a good thing considering the wear and tear they will avoid?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:32 PM)

It's obviously a great honor to represent your country. But it is taxing on your body. Guys like Gausted, Connolly will get a nice break. Unfortunately, the guy they need to rest is Ryan Miller. He plays a ton and if USA has any chance of getting a medal, he will have to be as good for them as he's been for the Sabres.

Mike (San Diego)

Do you think the Blues recent troubles are more because they overachieved last year or because they have underachieved this year?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:33 PM)

I tend to think that we like to see trends in teams and either overrate them or throw them away quickly. I think the Blues are somewhere in the middle. I think they have underachieved this year, but last year was crazy what they accomplished. I didn't see them as a playoff team this year, only because I thought they played well beyond their means in last year's playoff run.

Larry (Tewksbury, MA)

Matthew - I was wondering why some players (like Cam Neely and Gary Roberts) start out as tough guys in the NHL and then become pure scorers, and some who are scorers in junior morph into tough guys in the NHL. What are your thoughts on this?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:35 PM)

It's a great question. There are guys that score in junior and in the minors but can't find a way to do it in the NHL. It is a different game, faster, tougher. Guys have to find a niche. Then there are players that were tough guys that are thrown into a different role, work hard at improving and develop at a later stage. RE: the players you mentioned and throw in Rick Tocchet.

Jason (Bmore)

How big of a snub was leaving Jordan Staal off of the Canadian Olympic team?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:36 PM)

I don't think it's that big of a snub. Jordan is a great player. Obviously he had a good year and helped Pittsburgh win a Stanley Cup. If you look at the Canadian team, they are always going to be some guys that are very good left off. Jordan is one of those players. Vincent Lecavalier, St. Louis, just to name a few, I'm sure are very disappointed too.

JD (MD)

What is with the ESPN hockey team and their hate for the Devils? In reading the half-way picks yesterday, I can understand Miller having an edge right now in the vezina race, but how is it a contest for coach of the year? Lemaire had done an incredible job with the roster he was given, and he has overcome some huge injuries. Isn't he the favorite right now?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:38 PM)

I don't know if you saw ESPNEWS at 3:40, but I said the Devils are my favorite to win the East. They have the best goaltender, a great coach and three guys up front averaging almost a point a game on a defensive minded team. I think the Devils are the favorite, but the East is wide open.

Brandon (Live in Austin visiting Denver)

What are the Red Wings biggest problems and will they make the playoffs?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:39 PM)

The biggest problem by far is staying healthy. This has not been a team that has been able to put a full roster on the ice all year. I do believe they will make the playoffs and I can guarantee no one in the top two seeds will want to face these guys in the first round.

Dave (NY)

Is the Rangers recent 7-2-2 run for real? Think they can advance in the playoffs if they keep this up?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:40 PM)

This is a two-trick pony. One up front in Gaborik and one in goal with Lundqvist. I think Lundqvist can steal some games and Gaborik will continue to score. For them to have a chance in the playoffs, I think they need to bolster their offense a little bit.

Steve (PA)

Who's your pick for rookie of the year and who will be the biggest star down the line?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:41 PM)

There are a lot of great rookies this year. But living in Buffalo, I have a chance to watch Tyler Myers play a lot. 6-7 and still putting on weight, he has been a force for the Sabres. He plays PP, kills penalties, on the shut down unit and plays a lot of critical minutes for a team near the top of the standings. He would be my pick for the Calder.

Luke (MN)

Is Guillaume Latandresse the next John Leclair?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:43 PM)

I'm not ready to annoit him the next John LeClair, but he definitely has potential. Big strong kid that can score goals and go to the diry areas. Sometimes a change of scenery is the best thing that can happen. This has been a good career move for him and look for him to help the Wild for a long time.

Brandon (MA)

Do you think Michael Ryder will come out of his scoring slump?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:43 PM)

Ryder is a streaky player. Players like this go into funks and then break out. I think with power play time and Marc Savard passing the puck to him, he has proven that he can score and he will.

Trent (Virginia)

What would Mike Green need to have done differently or better to be named to the Canadian Olympic team? He's a game changer who puts up points and, as is overlooked by many people, is a plus player.

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:45 PM)

Mike Green is a tremendous player. He is as dynamic on the power play as any defenseman in the league. They have a talented team. Score a lot of goals and that is why he is so high in the pluses. He is not good defensively and for him to get to the next level, he has to improve that part of his game. Team Canada already had Boyle, Weber, Niedermayer, so what they needed was defensive minded players as 6 and 7 guys.

Paul (Gilbert, AZ)

Of the teams that are battling to get into or stay in the top 8 in their respective conferences, which team(s) is the jury still out on for both the East and West?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:47 PM)

I think if you look in the West, the jury is still out on Phoenix and Colorado. Both goalies have been stellar for their teams and if they slide a bit, it could mean the end for these two teams. In the East, I would say Montreal and New York. Not enough scoring for the Rangers and Montreal is believed to be too small up front.

steve (pa)

Do you think that Scott Niedermayer will be joining his brother in New Jersey by the end of the season or in the offseason?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:48 PM)

I don't think Scott will be going anywhere. I think he likes life in California and his next move would probably be to retire. Having said that, if he does go anywhere, he has such a good relationship with the Devils that I think it would be the only team he would accept.

Matt (NY)

Hi Matthew, given the setback for Paul Martin, if he can't play in the Olympics, how much does this hurt the defense of the US or do they have another defender waiting in the wings? He is so very smooth on his skates and never makes poor decisions, I can't imagine another defenseman filling his shoes.

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:49 PM)

This would be huge. For a team that is so young and will make mistakes, to not have a guy like Paul Martin in the lineup, would hurt a lot. This is a team that is going to need a goaltender to stand on their head, but if it's anything like their junior team, it will be very exciting to watch.

Tim (AZ)

True or false - the Coyotes will make the playoffs this year

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:49 PM)

False.

Peter (MA)

Philly's shown some life in their last few days. Do you think they can turn it around?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:51 PM)

Usually when you hit the halfway point, it is really tough to climb that ladder. Philly has underachieved, but finally, it looks like they are starting to figure it out. Better defensively, better disciplined and their scorers are stepping up to the plate. I think Philly will make the playoffs and again, people will not want to face this team in the first round.

Steve (Albany NY)

Do you think the Sabres can make it to the cup with the team they have now, or are they missing a star player or two that they could acquire by trade?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:52 PM)

Darcy Regier usually makes a few moves at the deadline. I really would love to see him add a so-called scorer. The team is playing great defensively, is getting great goaltending, but on most nights lacks scoring. Well coached team, but a scorer down the stretch could get them to the Cup.

Luke (MN)

Is naming Ovechkin the captain the best choice? It is his job to lead by example however not every play should play the same way he does. The Capitals lack of defence is what is holding them back from the Stanley cup.

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:53 PM)

Absolutely the right time to name Ovechkin captain. What you want in a captain is to lead by example and he does that every shift he's on the ice. I still think they could use a defenseman and we will see how Varlamov comes back from injury. Very exciting team to watch, but I still don't see them as a Cup contender yet.

JT (Nashville)

Do you think Zetterburg and Cleary returning tonight will result in a win for the wings, or will they relax a little more now that they know two scorers are back?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:54 PM)

I think it's always nice when you get two regulars back and this is no time to relax. I very rarely pick Detroit not to win, so I'm going to say they start their streak tonight.

Justin (New York)

John Tavares - real deal? What do you think so far? How about Moulson and Schremp? Okposo? Bailey? It seems like the Islanders are finally getting a nice young core together, eh? And Andy Sutton has been decking people left and right!! Thoughts on the Islanders??

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:55 PM)

John Tavares is exactly what we thought he'd be. A guy that doesn't skate very well, but gets open and buries the puck. He has scored at every level and will continue to score in the NHL. I like the Islanders and their improvements they have made. I still don't see them as a playoff team, as the pace of play will even get amped up even more with the second half starting.

Dave (Chicago)

Which team do you think will give the Blackhawks the most trouble come playoff time?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:57 PM)

I don't think they will want to play Vancouver. With the way last year ended and the season the Sedins are having, I would not want to face them. Chicago is as good a team as there is in hockey right now, so staying away from teams you've embarrassed should be key.

Steve (PA)

Who's the next sid the kid coming up?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:58 PM)

I don't know if he's Sid the Kid, but he will be a very good NHL player. Taylor Hall will be the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft. He plays for Windsor and for a 17 year old, he was unbelievable at the World Junior tournament for Canada. Good size, great skater, should be fun to watch.

Bobby (Wichita Falls)

Ovechkin leading by example? Does that mean no more knee on knee hits?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:58 PM)

Bobby, you seem a little frustrated. He is a tad bit dirty, but I think you'd take him on your team. I know I would.

Luke (MN)

Halak or price? With solid goaltending being hard to come by can Montreal afford to let either of these guys go?

Matthew Barnaby
  (3:59 PM)

I would not be trading either of them. Halak looked like he was the guy as he wants to play more and deserves to play more. But Montreal needs to make the playoffs and needs to play the guy that is playing the best. I would hold on to both.

Matthew Barnaby
  (4:00 PM)

A lot of great games tonight. By the time we talk next week, for some with their teams with the glass half full, it could be empty and ready to start talking who should we dump? Talk to you next week.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:29 PM)

Well hello puckheads ! All the best in 2010 to ya all. Let's get it going.

Jim Neveau (Aroma Park, IL)

Pierre, your blog mentioned Dallas wanting to host a Winter Classic at the new Cowboys Stadium, but I had a different idea: Dallas playing the Wild up at new Target Field in Minnesota. Have Dallas wear the old North Stars uniforms and play in a US hotbed of hockey. Sounds like a win-win. What do you think?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:31 PM)

A very good idea. I think Minnesota, Denver, New York, Pittsburgh _ they're all interested in hosting a game... And eventually, I'm pretty sure they all will. Right now, I think the Wasington-Pittsburgh scenario seems like the one that's getting the most traction but things can change

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Will there be the Winter Classic in the Future either at Yankee Stadium or Citi Field?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:32 PM)

Yankee Stadium is going to host a Bowl game next year during the same week of the Winter Classic so I think that pretty much rules out Yankee Stadium for now... CitiField is an option ... but it's not Yankee Stadium if you know what I mean...

HalGills$2MillSkills (Greenwich, Ct)

Having just spent the holidays up north of Montreal and watching all of the World Junior Hockey Championship and then coming back down here, it is so disheartening. If it was not for winter holidays growing up spent with my family in Canada, I would never even know this tournament existed. It is quite frankly some of the best hockey I have ever watched, but, according to ESPN it does not even exist. What's your take on the lack of interest? I know we will be seeing the elite guys make an impact as early as next year. Thank you.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:35 PM)

The kids definitely play their heart out in this event. At least this year NHL Network showed the Team USA games in the U.S.But I have to be honest, I grew up absoultely loving this event. I remember where I was when John Slaney scored late in the third period in January 1991 as Canada beat Russia in the gold medal game. But over the last few years, my interest has waned in the event because the journalist in me sees the fact that Canada is now hosting this thing every two years or so, giving the powerhouse Canadians a huge advantage that I feel is unfair. The reason the IIHF has agreed to this is because no other country can pack the rinks for this and make money like Canada for that you have to give credit to Hockey Canada _ they've shown how it's done. But truthfully, I feel the world juniors have become an event were Canada has an unfair advantage, even if Team USA pulled it out this year.

Grey (Tennessee)

Will the Preds make the playoffs? Will the Preds make the playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:37 PM)

I hope so _ but I don't think so.

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Pierre, can you rank the three winter classics in terms of overall package....weather, teams, uniforms, quality of game, venue, surrounding parties, anthem singers, etc. I was at Fenway and it was an amazing scene, but I still think Buffalo was the best because of the snow and there was so much uncertainty as to how it would come off...total spontaneity and they pulled it off.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:38 PM)

1a. Fenway1b. Wrigley1c. BuffaloAll three were unbelievable. I was there for all three you can't say anything bad about any of them.

Josh (Nashville)

PIERRE - How could you leave Datsyuk off of the Selke nominations in your mid-year review? He's won it two years in a row and leads the league in takeaways. There is not one other player in the league I'd want on my 5 on 3 kill...

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:39 PM)

Time for new blood ! haha. But he certainly deserves consideration again no question

Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles, CA)

Pierre, I hear Team USA is a little thin down the middle. Is it too late for me to apply for American citizenship? I have Tomas Vanek sitting next to me and he was wondering the same thing....

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:40 PM)

Anze, Slovenia would never forgive you !!!!

Chet (Albany, NY)

When I see the success of guys like Rich Peverley and, looking back a bit, Steve Sullivan and Martin St. Loius, all of whom had to toil in the minors and switch teams before becoming top players, I can't help but wonder how many guys there are like that out there who could be great if only they got the opportunity. What makes some players like this succeed where others like them don't?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:41 PM)

Cliche answer but true _ Hard Work. What scouts have to say when they're teens does not define them. You make your own destiny by the kind of dedication you put in

Steve (CT)

Aside from Ryan Miller, the Buffalo Sabres have very few players on the various Olympic teams. Is that a good thing considering the wear and tear they will avoid?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:42 PM)

I think the whole Olympic wear and tear thing is way overrated.

Steve (PA)

How likely is Kovalchuk to the flyers? What would they have to give up?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:43 PM)

I know the Flyers have some interest but so do seven or eight other teams. Any trade for Kovalchuk would have to cost Jeff Carter from Atlanta's point of view I'm guessing

Pat (Chicago)

So the Blackhawks keep rolling and we have yet to put our entire team on the ice together at any point this season. Does this team need to make any moves to win the Stanley Cup or are we good enough when Bolland gets back?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:44 PM)

Pat, I think it's good enough myself... but it's interesting to know that they will also kick the tires on Kovalchuk when the time is right...

Drell (TN)

How much longer can people ignore Barry Trotz, I mean the guy HAS to win the Jack Adams sometime soon doesn't he?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:47 PM)

Agreed. As you may know, that's one of the rare trophies the NHL doesn't ask me and my fellow writers to vote on. It's the Broadcasters Association that votes on the Jack Adams.Otherwise, Trotz would be on my ballot every single year

Brian (MN)

How about that WJC? U.S. beating Canada eh?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:47 PM)

Great for the tournament. If Canada wins every year, who's going to care ?

Loup (DC)

Great matchup tonight up in Vancouver Pierre. If the last game tells us anything, we should expect a thriller. Bryz hit a bump a couple nights ago against Edmonton, but still got 2 points out of it. Do you think he will bounce back in a big way tonight in a very important game in Vancouver?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:48 PM)

The Canucks are on fire, Loup. So this is a nice midseason test to once again see how real the Coyotes are. To me, they are indeed for real. But the way the Canucks are moving the puck right now, will be interesting to see what Tippett can do, especialy since he doesn't have last line change.I'll be watching !

Evan (Florida)

what do you think of the tampa bay lighting start and can they make the playoffs after a two year drought what do you think

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:50 PM)

They've been much better this season but I think they'll miss out. Here's my midseason predicted order of finish in the East:1. New Jersey2. Washinton3. Buffalo (division win gives them seed)4. Pittsburgh5. Philadelhpia6. Boston7. Montreal8. N.Y. Rangers

Mark (Chicago)

Realistically how much talent is Chicago going to have to dump after this season to make it under the cap? As a fan I can't get enough of this team as they are great to watch. Sad that it will have to end after this year.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:50 PM)

two or three players.

Patrick (Pittsburgh)

Do you think the Pens will make any moves at the trading deadline? If so, what area will they try to improve>

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:51 PM)

Look for them to try to add a top-six forward around march 3 deadline

B-Diddy (Munstoeville, WYO)

Hi Pierre- Do you think the Russians torpedoed their chances to medal by picking half of their players from the KHL? Call me arrogant but I think that overall talent-wise the US is the much deeper club.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:53 PM)

A very well respected Russian voice and former hockey star emailed me Dec. 26 and said, '' In my opinion KHL players will be having tough time to keep up the pace and intensity with NHL players."

Johnny Kraft (Washington DC)

Does Ovechkin play in next year's winter classic?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:55 PM)

Quite possible _ but not definite

Mike (SJ)

Still confident in the Sharks? Yes, they are 9-1 in their last 10, but they've been winning ugly. Can't see them doing anything in the playoffs...

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:56 PM)

Tough crowd ! 9-1 and not happy ! LOLLet's give them one more chance this spring and then we'll talk

Bill (Pasadena, CA.)

Hi Pierre, Kings-wings tonight, what do the Kings have to do to extend their win streak to four? Thanks!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:57 PM)

Stay out of the box. Wings have had trouble scoring this year so don't give them a chance to bridge the gap on the power play

Chase (Costa Mesa)

The ducks are starting to get the core of their team back, will they make a playoff run?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:59 PM)

I love that team but they're 12 points out with four teams in between them and eighth... yikes... It's going to take 100 points maybe to make the playoffs in the West so the Ducks have to pick up 60 points or so in their next 39 games. That's tough sledding.

zachary (Haverhill, NH)

pierre. would love to have a straight answer on this one.. or atleas a answer since no one else will. what are your thoughts on vladdy sobotka being a top tier forward... his role as a bruin is limited beside a energy line grinder but he has shown scoring touches in the ahl. any future to his game? thanks, hopefully this beats out the redundant "will team X win the cup this year?" man i hate those!

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:00 PM)

Zach, haven't seen him play enough to have a full opinion. Like you said, he's only been given energy/checker ice time and that's all I've seen of him. I don't have time to watch AHL games...

Jeff (USA)

Hola Pierre, what is the posibility of TEAM USA grabbing the triple crown this year - we're already 2 of 3 with the under 17 and World Juniors...

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:02 PM)

On paper, Team USA is a bubble team for a medal in Vancouver. But because it's a one-game knockout medal round, who knows !!!! Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas both have the ability to steal a game. We saw Martin Gerber and the Swiss beat team Canada in Torino, we saw Belarus stun Sweden in Salt Lake City, we saw Dom Hasek single-handedly win Olympic gold in 1998. Anything is posisble _ seriously

Bill (Pasadena, CA.)

Pierre, who to you, is the biggest omission from Team USA?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:03 PM)

I had Paul Gaustad on my Team USA... other guys I like a lot that didn't make it include Rob Scuderi and T. J. Oshie

Matt (VA)

Isn't there something to be said for a team like the Sabres who don't have one or two 20 + goal scorers but have several different players who can score at any given time? Isn't there soemthing to be said about the Sabres who don't have a 20 + goal scorer at this point in the season but do have several players who can score at any given time?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:03 PM)

Balanced attack

Mark (La Jolla, Ca.)

If Ilya Kovalchuk doesn't sign in Atlanta (which is a big possibility) With 5 of the first 60 picks in the 2010 plus Wheeler, Sobotka, Colborne, Caron etc. why does everyone think that Chiarelli can't get Kovalchuk ? I see reports and predictions that Boston has no chance if Ily becomes available ? Your thoughts...

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:05 PM)

I know for a fact that Atlanta doesn't just want picks and prospects but also NHL players if they decide to trade Kovalchuk. That's why the Chicago angle is enticing if they can get Barker/Sharp or Barker/Versteeg package. That's something Boston really can't compete with unless they'd be willing to move Krejci for example

Yo (Chicago)

Who do you think will be the top scorer for the U.S. in Vancouver?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:05 PM)

Parise and Kane will be 1-2

Loup (DC)

Please do a finishing order of the West :)

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:07 PM)

OK Loup (which is French for Wolf by the way)1. Chicago2. San Jose3. Calgary4. Los Angeles5. Phoenix6. Detroit7. Vancouver8. Colorado

Matt (DC)

lots of talk for the caps to be in the classic next year but not so much to host one, why is that? is it weather related? pitt and NY are in the talks and the weather isnt that much different, i see why tampa or atlanta will never host the game but why not DC, also tell Berry that RFK doesnt host the skins, FedEx does, not that the skins will be playing Jan 1st next year neway :(

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:09 PM)

Very clever point Matt. A year ago, Caps owner Ted Leonsis told me in an email that he wantd to be in Winter Classic, but not host one. last week I emailed Leonsis again and while he said he wanted to be in a Winter Classic, he didn't replay to me when I asked him about hosting or not... I think the Caps want in, but not as host

Garrett (Chicago)

Blackhawks or Bruins tonight?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:10 PM)

Hawks

Kevin Canty (Chicago)

Well Just got on now and I am wondering how SICK do you really think this HAWKS team is?I see it working out this way and would love your response. If you trade away versteeg or Barker or Byfuglien pick two fo the 3 and you receieve Kovalchuk in return it is like a 3 for 3 deal. You should have Bolland and Burish back shortly and your adding Kovalchuk and getting rid of salary space. I say go for it what are your thoughts

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:11 PM)

I would defintely do it. Kovalchuk walks away July 1 as a UFA and you can't afford to keep him but who cares if you win the Cup for the first time since 1961. Well worth the price !

Dan (New Jersey)

The Devils are hot and continue to be. Are there any Devils trade rumors or are they going to stay content and hope to ride into the playoffs with a third line of Zharkov Niedermayer and Pelley?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:11 PM)

Dan, your GM is Lou Lamoriello. There are no legitimate trade rumors because Lou doesn't go off the record with the inside guys like me !

albert (virginia)

why is randy still the coach of the ducks? the players obviously dont like him and his system doesnt work without pronger... is gm bob murray alive up there?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:12 PM)

Murray and Carlyle are very very tight.... but you have to wonder eventually...

Jeff ((DC))

What do you think of John Carlson as a pro prospect? Think he gets called up to DC this year or will he have to wait until next year?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:12 PM)

Top-four stud defenseman for sure... but no reason to rush him

Drew (Boston)

Pierre, What is wrong with Thomas Vanek?????

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:13 PM)

I wish I knew _ I own him in fantasy !!! LOL

Luke (Saint Paul)

Vanek is already an American Citizen(duel citizinship), why would he play for Austria still? Americans sure could use him...

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:14 PM)

Cause as per IIHF rules he's readly represented Austria international before so he's stuck with them now

Drew T. (Nashville)

Preds-Canes tonight. What's the score?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:14 PM)

Preds 4, Canes 1

Sean (NJ)

Finishing order for the East please thanks

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:15 PM)

Sean, I wrote it earlier this hour. Check the chat history

Drew (Boston)

Or who is the best GM?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:16 PM)

easy pickings. Ken Holland

Drew (Boston)

Nobody ever wants to play NHL fantasy....can I join your league next year?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:16 PM)

sorry Drew, The Toronto Media Hacks Hockey Pool is for NHL media people only !

Sean (NJ)

I know they are not one of the most talked about teams but I would still think you would reply when a fan asks about the Panthers and what your thoughts are Pierre

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:17 PM)

They'll challenge for 8th right up to the end but I think they'll fall short

matt (east lansing)

is theodore in Boudreau's doghouse. I know the new young guy Neurvirth played well but he started every game in the 3 game losing skid.

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:18 PM)

Theodore is UFA July 1 and not in Washington's plans

Loup (DC)

How much damage do you think was done to the youth of the Coyotes last season when they were rushed? How far off are we from seeing Kyle Turris, Kevin Porter and Tikinov as full time, real deal NHLers? I have really heard very little from Turris coming out of San Antonio

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:19 PM)

I haven't check in on those AHL kids either Loup, too busy covering 30 NHL teams !It was a big mistake to rush those kids last year and hopefully they can slow down the development and get those guys back to basics

Har Journalist (N Vancouver, BC)

Can you get me a job at ESPN, CBC, NESN, Sportsnet, TSN or The Score you have way more connections then I do, and I keep hitting dead ends. Are you going to cheer secrectly for Suomi at the Olympics since you had their jersey on at the Winter Classic??

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:22 PM)

I've always had a soft spot for the Finns. Hardest-working bunch of guys I've ever been around

KEN HOLLAND (DETROIT)

WITH ALL THE CAP SPACE MY WINGS WILL HAVE AT THE SEASONS END, WHAT WILL I DO?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:22 PM)

Go Wild !!!!

Steve (Blacksburg, VA)

Going to the Olympics but don't really follow hockey that much. I have tix to a few games. Give me some players/teams to watch.

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:25 PM)

Russia. Ovechkin, Malkin, Datsyuk, MarkovCanada. Crosby, Getzlaf, Nash, ThorntonUSA. Parise. Kane. Kessel. Miller.Finland. Koivu, both of them, Selanne, KiprusoffSweden. Lundqvist, Lidstrom, and the Sedin twinsCzechs. Plekanec, Vokoun, HejdukSlovaks. Chara, Gaborik, Hossa, HalakSwitzerland, Streit, Weber

Jason (Long Island (NY))

Rangers/Thrashers final score tonight?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:25 PM)

4-3 Thrashers OT

Don (Chilliwack, BC)

With Henrik Sedin finally finding his scoring touch, Gaborik playing, what looks like, a full season, Thorton on an assist rampage, and Ovi missing some games, who do you see ending the year in the top three in the scoring race?

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:26 PM)

1. Thornton2. Ovechkin3. Crosby4. Sedin5. Parise

Jessica (Los Angeles)

Hey Pierre - How do you see the Flyers finishing the season? Any chance at a decent playoff run? We started off so hot and then sure tapered off. Seems like we may be getting a little of our spunk back.

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:27 PM)

Jessica, I think the Flyers will turn it around in the second half. They already have in my opinion. Ray Emery is coming back. Laviolette's system is beginning to sink in. I think they'll make the playoffs.

Dan (New Jersey)

One more question Pierre, thanks for answering before by the way. Is Dion Phaneuf done in Calgary? His play is uninspired and I am wondering if he is just not as good as hyped or if he needs a change of scenery.

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:29 PM)

No he's not going anywhere. I interviewed Flames GM Darryl Sutter about just that today. Look for my blog Friday on that. Bad rumors that aren't true !Ok kids, I'm off to see the Wizard.Join us tonight on Thrusday Game of the Week Coverit Live !