Back in lovely Montreal for Game 3 tonight. So, where were we?
The first act as commissioner I would have our officials review tape at the end of every playoff game to determine whether a player dives. It is real easy to catch on the replay. If caught, you get a mandatory 1 game suspension. That would keep the sport I love from becoming soccer. Thanks for your vote.
Josh; You'd have my vote on that. In fact a bunch of us were talking about that at the morning skate earlier today and echoed your sentiments. Watching Maxim Lapierre fling himself into the glass or Daniel Carcillo pretending to be high-sticked is nauseating. And there should be supplemental discipline for those guys just as there is for someone who acts out in other ways and hurts the game's reputation. Where do I put my 'X'?
I should be first ( ha ha). What's your take on the Bos-Phil series. Even though Boston is up 2-0. I think this series is far from over. Two really close games. Thoughts?
Jim; Agreed. Another topic that came up this morning amongst the ink-stained wretches, just how compelling that series has been. And I agree it's not over but the Bruins have certainly served notice they're for real. 5-0 at home in the playoffs, have given up power play goals (2) in just one of eight post-season games. Miroslav Satan competing like a, well, demon. Wow.
Scott you mentioned Roberto Luongo has been "solid as a rock." Judging from his up-and-down regular season, how much longer can we expect him to be this "solid?" Do you believe the playoffs may have unleashed a new Roberto Luongo?
Jordan; He's played well since mid-way through the first round but I will be curious to see how things go now that Chicago appears to have found their sea legs in this series. I think this playoff year will go a long way to either reinforcing that Luongo can't get it done in the clutch or that he's matured and can stand the heat. I still like the 'Hawks' chances.
Do you think the Red wings will be able to get back in their series with the Sharks?
Sean; I do although this is a different Sharks team this spring. Well, not so different in that Marleau has struggled and guys like Heatly (banged up) and even Joe Thornton haven't been at the top of their game. But their depth has finally saved them, at least so far. What a playoff for Joe Pavelski. But I think the Wings will get up off the mat. It goes without saying that they better do just that tonight. I think Howard comes up big tonight and Datsyuk and Zetterberg respond with big games.
Scott, as someone who saw many Thrash games with soon to be free agent Ilya Kovalchuk, where do you think he would fit in best next season?
Bill; I have thought for a long time he might be a nice fit that talented young group in Los Angeles. They can afford him vis a vis the cap and he's actually better defensively than people give him credit for being so I don't think it would upset the apple cart in terms of being a fit. Or how about back to Atlanta with Bob Hartley as head coach? Hmmm. Point to ponder.
What happens in Montreal tonight? Also, Jordan Staal took a 5 minute morning skate...any word on if this is a good sign of him returning sooner than later?
Mark; Staal skated without equipment this morning for about five minutes and Dan Bylsma said people thought he was joking when he said Staal was day to day but that's what he is. I am guessing that as long as the Penguins stay in front of the Habs they will let Staal heal as long as possible. My guess for tonight?Crosby scores his first goal in the Bell Center since his rookie year.Pens 4 Habs 2
Just keep doubting the Bruins Scott. They just keep fooling you time after time.
Al; I keep giving them the love but guess I still remain skeptical too. I'm torn. Still, great run and I understand TD Garden has been absolutley rocking. Great to see from a franchise too long playing in the shadows.
Im a big time b's fan but after watching the teams out West play I feel like no team in the east has a shot including Pittsburg. They seem to just play at a whole other pace that I can't see any teams in the east matching, am I wrong or do u agree?
joe; I picked the Penguins to repeat at the start of the season and again at the start of the playoffs. But you are right in that all four teams left in the Western Conference right now are probably at the very least on a par with Pittsburgh, the top seed remaining in the Eastern Conference, if not ahead. Still, if Jordan Staal returns at some point beating the Pens is still going to be a tall order. At least in my book.
What's your take on the ref controversy in the Sharks/Wings series? Seems to me that the officials were missing calls on both sides (both those committed and not) and the Wings need to give it a rest.
East Coast; Lots of questions on the officiating in that series and I must admit I get a little weary of the complaining about the calls in the playoffs. Yes, the game's are hugely important but if anyone thinks officials have an agenda or care who wins, they're wrong. That just doesn't happen. And if referees screw up they do get disciplined and they will find their playoff assignments suddenly coming to an end. Which is how it should work.
It's worthy to note that Malkin hasn't enjoyed a great playoffs thus far, at least in comparison to last year. With that being said, doesn't the Pens dearth of scoring talent at the wings cause a bit of a concern? It makes one reminisce of the days with Hossa and Sid, how lovely that could have been!
Jason; You are right. Malkin hasn't scored in four games but I thought he was better in Game 2. He will get untracked. Too big a talent not to. As for the wingers, that's life in the salary cap era. If you want to have the big guns down the middle in Malkin, Crosby and Staal there simply isn't a way to bring in guys like Hossa, at least not every year. I still think that strength down the middle will serve them better in the long haul until they develop a top-level talent on the wing.
Do you think Halak's inability to secure rebounds will cost Montreal in this series or will the team continue to clear out the net in front of him after the initial save ?
Matt; It's a great question because when teams have got to the Habs it's been by taking advantage of scrambles and overpowering the front of the net. Dan Bylsma reitereated this morning he hopes the front of the Montreal net is the most crowded place on the ice tonight. The Pens have the guys who can do that kind of work if they have the will. In the end it will likely decide if the Habs can stretch this series out or not.
Assuming Halak stays, where do you see Price ending up?
Geoff; I'm not sure you can assume that in spite of Halak's performance this spring. If I am Pierre Gauthier I think I do my best to keep both of them through the start of next season and see what happens.
ive heard rumors that Billy Guerin is a game time decision. Is this true?
Ben; That is true. Mark Letestu will go if Guerin can't.
What are your thoughts on Jagr resigning with Avangard? Is a return to the NHL doubtful now? Also, I find it strange he didn't come back considering he needs 1 point to reach 1600.
Don; Agreed. Having seen and spoken to him at the Olympics it did seem like he was leaning to coming back. Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Rangers all would have been glad to have him back I think assuming a modest salary demand. But Jagr has always marched to his own drummer. And he likes money. Nothing wrong with that.
Seems not much was made of Crosby's stick fiasco. First, how was that not either an unsportsmanlike or 10 minute misconduct? Second, why do you think not much has been made of it? It seems to me that it shows Crosby still has his whining ways, especially when he is consistently seen yapping at the refs.
Mark; Actually it's been a pretty hot topic of discussion both in Pittsburgh and in Montreal. As for a penalty I think you see players break their sticks in frustration although generally not so close to the opposing goalie. Since it wasn't involved in the actual play I'm not surprised he wasn't penalized. As for Crosby's whining I don't think he does any more or less than any other player. Watch Daniel Carcillo last night.
Out of all goalies left in the west, who would you want in net? It seems like all streaky and have their question marks.
Chris; Interesting question as I think of those four teams you would have to raise questions about all four starters and their ability to get the job done in the crunch. I guess Nabokov has been the most steady this spring but his history suggests he cannot continue to play at this level.
im a ranger fan so i gotta ask wade reddens and rozivals salary is really killing this team i know drury isnt going anywhere because hes the captain but in light of torts sayin someplayers need to go what are the chances one or both redden and rozival leave? also anything on sather leaving? were still praying here in ny
sean; Those are questions being asked by every Ranger fan. To me it's all about the team's willingness to bite the bullet and either buy those players out (still a heavy cap hit) or bury them in the minors. The problem when you do that is that you admit to a terrible error by someone who is supposed to be a keen hockey mind in Glen Sather. Until those cap issues are dealt with though the Rangers are fighting with one arm tied behind their collective backs.
Huge Sharks fan here. Watching Pavel Datsyuk in the series however has really changed my opinion of him. Shouldn't his name be mentioned in the same breath as Crosby or Ovechkin? His skill is amazing. By the way...Sharks in 6.
John; He is a great talent and I do think he has that kind of reputation in the game as being a top-five forward in the league. His point totals may not be in the same stratosphere every year but he's as good as they come at both ends of the ice.
Scott, breaking your stick is one thing. Flinging it across the ice is another thing.
Mark; Fair point. Although the play was up ice. If he'd flung it a la Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza okay. Or into the crowd a la Mats Sundin.
What do you think of Mike Richards comments of Marc Savard putting him out for another 6 weeks? Do you think the NHL will step in or just let it be?
Bill; Apparently Savard denied that Richards said that to him.
What are your thoughts on the whole Carcillo-Savard fiasco? I personally find it amusing and not at all as big of a deal as some people are portraying it to be.
Ashley; This is what I love about the playoffs. These little moments that happen all the time in the regular season suddenly become major stories. Like Alexander Ovechkin suggesting Jaroslav Halak's hand is shaking or the biting incident or Crosby's stick breaking. All good fodder for discussion between games.
Assuming Markov and Staal won't be back in this serie, which loss is worse for the respective teams ? My guess would be Markov but after game 2, i'm not that sure. Canadiens can overcome Markov's loss in PP but can the Penguins overcome Staal's loss in PK ?
Olivier; I thought after Game 1 that Markov would be a far bigger loss and it was to the Habs' credit that they played as well as they did in Game 2. Can they keep it up? That's the question. I think the Pens have enough depth to make up for Staal's loss short-term. Big test tonight for the thin Hab blue line with Jaroslav Spacek still out as well.
Do you see the Sharks winning the series?
Barry; Yes. I think I picked them in six. Maybe seven. But I do think they'll move on and play Chicago in the conference final.
Hi Scott, Any disciplinary action against Pens player for boarding Bergeron in final minutes of game 2?
Rob; None that I am aware of and usually the league announces fines and the like before the next game.
Does Sturm's knee injury end his time with Boston?
Paul; He's got another year left at $3.5 million assuming he recovers.
Scott, why are you and your media bretheren so apologetic for Crosby's stick flinging, yet so hyper critical of Carcillo's on-ice actions. Look, I think people who call Crosby a whiner are morons. But I also believe your vile towards Carcillo is misguided and hypocritical.
Drew; Not defending the stick throwing and I'm not sure I've produced any vile words regarding Carcillo. Or none any more vile than I might produce regarding any other player who feigns an injury to try and get a penalty called.
What has been the biggest play in the playoffs to date ?
Matt; Good question. Lots come to mind. Tuukka Rask's diving across the crease save against Buffalo. Luongo sweeping the puck from going across the line. Mike Cammalleri's first goal in Game 2 against Pittsburgh. Andy Sutton's hit on Jordan Leopold in the first round. There have been a ton. Get back to me as we go along.
Scott, Fleury has a save % below .890, worst of all remaining starting goalies in the playoffs. He's been average at best, and I really think this will bite the Pens if he doesn't play better esp in Montreal. He can't keep giving up 3 goals and expecting the guys in front of him to score 4 every game.
Todd; Absolutely true. Fleury has traditionally gotten better as series have gone on. It was so against Ottawa and we'll see if he can bring his level of play up against Montreal. He'll have to if Halak stays in the zone.
If the Sharks top line can produce like they did in the regular season & Pavelskis line can continue to dominate
Mike; Then they will be very tough to dislodge from the playoffs. Big 'ifs' though given the history of that Big Line.
I was wondering if you still stand by your prediction of Philadelphia in 7 games
Cory; Was thinking about that last night when the Bruins scored late. I could claim it was an editing error but yes, I'll stick by it.
How bout Kane's short-handed goal against Nashville in game 5 with 14 seconds left? If not for that, we might be discussing how Nashville will host a playoff game in a flooded stadium.
jon; Excellent one. Lump it in with the decision not to eject Hossa and that might be the biggest turning point moment so far. Thanks.
Which will have a bigger effect on the Bruins, Sturm's exit or Thorton's absence?
William; Sturm was having a pretty grisly playoff before he got hurt. Having Shawn Thornton in the line-up certainly ups the grit ante for the Bruins. Never a bad thing against the Flyers.
Do you see gonchar resigning???
Jeremy; With Kris Letang signing a long-term extension this season I think the only way Gonchar stays is if he agrees to much less dollar but longer term. Hard decision for both he and GM Ray Shero. He's been terrific for the Pens but he'll also command a lot of attention if he hits the market this summer.
Okay folks, off to the Bell Center with my ear plugs. Should be a dandy. See you next week.