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March 15, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Scott Burnside

Scott Burnside
  (3:59 PM)

Hello all, where were we? Ah yes, another boring week in the NHL: Matt Cooke, Alexander Ovechkin, the Coyotes, the Rangers. Whew. Let's do it.

Mike (DC)

How good is Nicklas Backstrom? I think this season he's moved himself at least in the conversation of the best forwards in the game not named Ovechkin or Crosby... Yesterday is why I think his contract hasn't gotten done; you would think Kane/Toews set the barometer for him--but he may be asking for--and deserving--of more money.

Scott Burnside
  (4:01 PM)

Mike; I agree whole heartedly. One of the most under-appreciated stars in the league. Very unassuming but he is a rare talent. And you're right about the contract although I doubt if he'll get much more than Kane/Toews plus if he's smart he'll take a little less just so he can keep stepping onto the ice with a guy named Ovechkin.

Jared (PA)

how come when ovechkin makes a dirty play, people defend him and say he plays with "passion"? when matt cooke makes a dirty hit, people complain and say he needs kicked out of the nhl. a dirty hit is a dirty hit, regardless of who delivers it, no?

Scott Burnside
  (4:04 PM)

Jared; There's always some context that's needed for these kinds of things but surely you're not comparing Cooke's hit on Marc Savard with Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell? Different in almost every sense of the word. Likewise, I am assuming you're not comparing the kind of player Ovechkin is to the kind of player Cooke is? I agree there has sometimes been a double-standard when it comes to disciplining 'star' players but Ovechkin has been suspended already this season and will likely get some press box time for the Campbell hit, too. But let's not compare apples and oranges here.

mike (nj)

Think the Devils can fix there second-half-of-the-game-deficiencies in time for the playoffs or can us Devils fans expect another first round letdown? Thanks Scotty

Scott Burnside
  (4:06 PM)

mike; The Devils certainly have flattened out a bit in the last 15 or so games compared to where they were at earlier in the season. I still like them to win a round although I do think they have weaknesses on the blue line and in terms of finding some sort of identity offensively that will keep them from advancing beyond the second round for the sixth straight playoff year.

Zachary (Greer, SC)

How will Brian Campbell's injury affect the Blackhawks in the post season?? And do they have anyone who can fill that slot?

Scott Burnside
  (4:10 PM)

Zachary; First off the loss of a top-end puck-moving defenseman is going to be significant. The good thing for the 'Hawks is that Campbell, in spite of his salary, isn't in the same position of say a Mike Green in Washington in that the 'Hawks have plenty of depth along the blue line including potential Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and newly acquired Kim Johnsson. As for a replacement the Chicago papers are reporting the 'Hawks have placed Nick Boynton on re-entry waivers and if no other team claims him he'll fill in on the blue line and gives the 'Hawks a veteran, physical presence.

AJ (New Castle, PA)

Scott, What is up with that Steve Downie hit on Crosby last night? I don't know if its just me, but it looked an awful lot like Downie wrapped his left skate around Crosby's leg and tried to roll on the back of his knee? Any idea if the NHL is going to look into that hit?

Scott Burnside
  (4:11 PM)

AJ; Scary moment for the Pens to be sure but my colleague Pierre LeBrun has reported there will be no hearing into the play.

Chris (Mt. Laurel, NJ)

Hi Scott. Barry Trotz...the most underrated coach in NHL history? Every time I take a glance at the standings this time of year, I'm always amazed to see Nashville in the hunt. What's he selling down there?

Scott Burnside
  (4:12 PM)

Chris; Not sure about history but his record with the Preds is pretty darned impressive. Although he has yet to get the Preds over the playoff hump (they have never won a playoff round) he has done so much, often with so little, for so long, there should be some sort of lifetime achievement award for him. One of the good guys in the game, too, with his work in the community in Nashville.

Kyle (Boston)

Who do the Coyotes match up better against as a potential first-round opponent - LA or Colorado?

Scott Burnside
  (4:13 PM)

Kyle; I think they match up pretty well with either. The Kings have more playoff experience and with guys like Justin Williams back in the fold, Ryan Smyth, Rob Scuderi, et al. In theory they should be more battle-tested than the youthful Avs.

RJ (Boston)

Hi Scott,Once and for all, is it not better for the league to have a small market (Winnipeg, for instance) sell out the cheaper seats and support their team in the community, than to risk another Phoenix/Atlanta big market endeavor where not only do the Luxury boxes not pay off, but nobody shows up for the cheap seats either?

Scott Burnside
  (4:17 PM)

RJ; It's a great dilemma for the league. But remember when the Jets folded their tents in Winnipeg it wasn't because Phoenix represented a better 'hockey' market it's because there wasn't enough economic support in Winnipeg to keep an NHL team afloat. Now with a salary cap would it be different? Maybe. Maybe not. Or would Winnipeg become Nashville north? Having fans who love the game isn't necessarily a guarantee of a successful NHL franchise.

Tony (Scranton Pa)

Rangers, In or out?

Scott Burnside
  (4:17 PM)

Tony; In. Henrik Lundqvist rights the ship just in time to sneak in so they can get waxed by the Caps in five.

Loup (DC)

Which is more shocking to you: That Lee Stempniak is playing like a world class forward or that Adrian Aucoin still has a career shootout record of 100%? I am going with Aucoin based on the consideration that all (or all but 1) of those has won the shootout.

Scott Burnside
  (4:19 PM)

Loup; Wrote about Adrian Aucoin today in my Monday column. Four for four in shootouts all of which were game-winners. Go figure. As for Stempniak, talked to Don Maloney and Dave Tippett and they both thought getting out of the spotlight of Toronto would be the perfect tonic for Stempniak and they were right. Between Stempniak and Wojtek Wolski the 'Yotes have made themselves into a team that will be hard to dislodge come playoff time.

Joe (Virginia)

Given your article today, do you think the NHL could-with a straight face-suspend Ovechkin after not suspending Cooke? AO's push, umm I mean "violent hit," while probably stupid, really shouldn't even be in the same conversation as Cooke's. When do you think the NHL will announce a decision?

Scott Burnside
  (4:21 PM)

Joe; Sadly I will not be surprised whatever the league does, that's the problem with the dart board philosophy of supplemental discipline. I don't think this hit is anywhere near the Cooke hit and somehow the league couldn't find a way to suspend him. The Ovechkin hit, while ill-advised isn't nearly as reckless or pre-meditated or predatory so I think a fine and stern talking-to will work. At least it would for me.

Matt (Raleigh)

Are the Canes done?

Scott Burnside
  (4:23 PM)

Matt; Yes. It would be a great story if the surged back into the hunt but the hole from which they have been trying to emerge for the past three months was pretty significant. That said, kudos to Paul Maurice and the entire organization for not throwing in the towel. The 'Canes bring it every night and are going to cost some team, maybe teams, a spot in the post-season. Playoffs next year for sure.

Zach (Washington D.C.)

How do you feel about the punishment for a hit being in part based on the injury the player faces? I was very sad to hear Campbell may miss the rest of the season, but I think the people calling for Ovi's head are a little extreme. Say Campbell DOESN'T lose a wheel as Ovi is pushing him, and he just hits the boards and isn't badly injured. Do these people still want Ovi suspended? How much should the punishment be based on the hit itself versus what ends up happening to the victim of the hit?

Scott Burnside
  (4:26 PM)

Zach; It's a great point and some people believe the punishment should match the long-term impact of the act. For instance, had the NHL had the gumption to suspend Mike Richards as they should have, should he have been allowed to play until David Booth returned to action for Florida? I don't subscribe to that notion; a bit too fuzzy on when a player comes back for me. I'd rather see established guidelines for suspensions for various acts; hit from behind that draws a major penalty minimum five games and so on. But it's hard not to reconsider punishment when a player isn't just momentarily injured but is out of a team's line-up for weeks or months.

joe (nyc)

werent the caps supposed to wax the rangers last year also? on that note, I think the Rangers miss it and clean house finally.

Scott Burnside
  (4:29 PM)

joe; Fair point. I think there's a much wider gap between the two teams this year, though. As for cleaning house Ranger fans have been waiting for that for years but until ownership decides they want to move forward with a GM whose best days were two decades ago with guys like Gretzky, Messier, Coffey and Kurri it will be the same old same old for the Rangers. New year, new batch of over-paid players struggling for identity.

Scotty (Detroit)

FRom Windsor I am actually just wanted to see if j. Howard will get the reigns as no.1 for the Wings

Scott Burnside
  (4:31 PM)

Scotty; My old stomping grounds. I think it would be a monster surprise if Mike Babcock suddenly handed the starting gig to Chris Osgood come April with the work that Howard has done this season. That said, one sign that Howard can't handle the playoff pressure and Osgood will be between the pipes. Frankly, that's not a bad Plan B to have.

Matt (Detroit, MI)

Red Wings, Preds, and Flames. They are seperate by 4 points with 14 games left. Who is going to be on the outside looking in?

Scott Burnside
  (4:34 PM)

Matt; In spite of my high regard for Barry Trotz et al I think it'll be the Wings and Flames. Which team do you think the Sharks are praying they don't have to play? (Hint; they play in Michigan.)

James (Boston)

Are the Buffalo Sabres underutilizing trade deadline acquisition Raffi Torres by keeping him on the third line with the likes of Adam Mair and Patrick Kaleta? They traded for him to get a top 6 forward, not top 9.

Scott Burnside
  (4:37 PM)

James; Not sure exactly what the plan is for Torres although he has the skill set to play pretty much anywhere in the top 9. Certainly one would think he'd see some power play time and with Clarke MacArthur now in Atlanta you'd think Torres would get lots of opportunity to bring his experience to bear on the Sabre line-up. That said, it may be something where Lindy Ruff is working him in slowly, making sure he knows systems etc. before piling on responsibility. By playoff time I am guessing Torres will be playing a bigger role.

dill (indiana)

how well will the redwings do if they make the playoffs

Scott Burnside
  (4:39 PM)

dill; A lot of people see the Red Wings as a dark horse a la Anaheim of a year ago, a team capable of taking down a 1 or 2 seed. Health will have a lot to do with it. I could see them taking down San Jose. Not sure I see them beating Chicago.

Andrew (Nashville)

what do you mean by Nashville North? The Preds are one of the few franchises not losing money these days.

Scott Burnside
  (4:40 PM)

Andrew; Not sure that the Preds aren't losing money but my point was more that moving the 'Yotes to Winnipeg doesn't guarantee a roaring success and that the potential to have to live hand to mouth - as the Preds do - exists for a team in Winnipeg just as it does for many small to medium-sized markets.

AC-Slayer (Los Angeles)

Scott, Who are your Top 5 Cup Contenders?What are the chances of LA making it deep in the playoffs?

Scott Burnside
  (4:42 PM)

AC; In order; Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, Vancouver, Phoenix.

Scott (NYC)

Scott - Ryan Miller for Vezina, Tyler Myers for Calder; can Lindy lead these guys deep in the playoffs for a come-from-behind Jack Adams???

Scott Burnside
  (4:43 PM)

Scott; The regular season awards get voted on before the playoffs but I'm sure Lindy would take a nice, long playoff run regardless of whether he gets any hardware. Think you're right on with Miller and Myers, though; they can book a flight to Vegas right now if they want.

Shane (Toledo, OH)

Do you think the Canucks can finally be considered a cup contender? Is this the best team we have seen in Vancouver for quite some time?

Scott Burnside
  (4:44 PM)

Shane; I'm a recent convert. Still not sold on Luongo in the clinches but this Canucks team has got a lot going for it. How about a re-match of last year's second round tilt with Chicago at some point this spring? Now that would be fun.

Phil (DC)

ovie suspended 2 gaames!!! I cannot believe it!

Scott Burnside
  (4:47 PM)

Phil; I'm sure there will be dismay on both sides; two not nearly enough, two is two too many.

Steve (Minneapolis)

any chance the wild can find a suitor for Backstrom in the offseason for another top center?

Scott Burnside
  (4:48 PM)

Steve; Not sure why the Wild would trade their number-one goalie after signing him to an extension. But adding some depth up front wouldn't hurt.

B-Diddy (Munstoeville, WYO)

What do you think of TJ Galiardi's development as a 1st-line player? I think he's one of the team MVPs this year, he's done absolutely everything they've asked of him and exceled (1st line wing, 3rd line center, PK, etc).

Scott Burnside
  (4:50 PM)

B-Diddy; There are probably half a dozen young players on that Avs team that have been terrific surprises and Galiardi is one of them. It will be interesting to see how they respond to the pressures of post-season play but regardless of what happens it's been a banner year for the Avs and head coach Joe Sacco and GM Greg Sherman.

Josh (MD)

What will Mike Green have to do to win a Norris? A plus 31 this year, top ten in ice time and its been well documented that no defenseman puts up points like him...

Scott Burnside
  (4:52 PM)

Josh; Fair or not I think he will have to prove himself in the playoffs when it's not just about putting up points. He has had a great year after a miserable playoff performance a year ago. He'll need a strong playoff to dispell the notion - fair or not - that he is one-dimensional.

brad (chicago)

WOW! no faith in San Jose - not that I mind pulling for the it just their history that brings this on or is there something specific that causes them to not even be in your top 5 contenders?

Scott Burnside
  (4:55 PM)

brad; Sorry, been burned by that incendiary Sharks bandwagon far too often to jump back on. Seeing is believing. And perhaps this is the year they do march to a conference final or beyond but too many questions in goal and along the blue line for my liking at this stage.

Justin (DC)

But Scott....they vote for Norris before the playoffs

Scott Burnside
  (4:57 PM)

Justin; Yes. I didn't mean to suggest Mike Green would win the Norris this year if the Caps went deep. I meant, in general, the Caps will have to go deep and Green will have to play a big role in such a run to get the Norris consideration some believe is his due.

Eric (Denver)

Do you see Lidstrom retiring this year? And who would be a candidate to replace him on FA, if Holland goes that route?

Scott Burnside
  (4:59 PM)

Eric; I am guessing it will have something to do with how the Wings finish up. If they miss the playoffs or get bounced early does Lidstrom see that as a sign that the salad days are gone or does he see this as a brief setback and give it one more whirl. He has played very well in the second half of this season so I'm not sure it's an issue of declining play that would factor into his decision. Frankly, hard to imagine the Wings taking the ice without #5.

drew (sf)

at this point what can the GMs do about Colin Campbell and his wheel of justice. This is just brutally confusing. It's at the point where his decisions are more controversial than the hits themselves.

Scott Burnside
  (5:02 PM)

drew; Well put. It is a sad reality of how the NHL's handling of discipline creates as many headlines as the incidents themselves. It has been a brutal year for Colin Campbell and the NHL in terms of trying to establish some sort of consistency in what is one of the most important elements of the game.

Scott Burnside
  (5:02 PM)

Well, all. Thanks for taking the time to send in your questions. Look forward to catching up next week.