Greetings from Philadelphia. A few hours to go before Game 5, let's talk a little puck. So, where were we?
Scottie B...I know you have an opinion on this issue, but what do you think about the whole "mystery matter" issue that seemed to dent the Flyer's skates in Game 4 of the ECF? Are the Habs innocent until proven guilty, do you think the NHL or NHLPA will look into it any further?
Greg; Happened to be on the same flight as series supervisor Kay Whitmore and he was looking into the matter. Honestly, I think it's pretty unlikely there was anything nefarious that went on there. Was there stuff on the ground? Probably. But it's not like the place is crawling with people who would be able to drop stuff on the ground on purpose. Might have been a technical crew, stuff carried in on the bottom of boots etc. Still, it's made for some interesting discussion the past couple of days.
Hey Scott, what do you think the chances are of philly beating the blackhawks in the final, assuming they can get by the habs first?
Josh; I think they are good. the 'Hawks are a fine team and they are rolling right now but if the Flyers do advance I like the potential of their blue line to make life difficult for Toews, Kane, Sharp et al. If Michael Leighton can continue throwing goose eggs I think the Flyers have a shot for sure.
As a Red Wings fan but most importantly a hockey fan. Who will I root for in the Cup Finals if Philly makes it? I don't want to see Chicago raise the cup and on top of that I definitely don't want to see Pronger raise it either!! What am i to do Mr. Burnside???
Mumbles; That is a dilemma. You could always cheer for Marian Hossa on one side and Ville Leino on the other. Fair question; who wins the points race between the two former Wings if the Flyers and Hawks do meet in the final? Leino's been pretty terrific this spring.
Scott, what's your take on the future location of the Phoenix Coyote franchise? Do you really think Winnipeg has a decent shot at getting its team back?
Bill; I think it's still touch-and-go for the Coyotes in Phoenix and there's almost no doubt they will go to Winnipeg as early as the 2011 season if the ownership thing falls apart (again) in Phoenix. Right now I'd say 50-50.
Hey Scott...remind me again why the Avs fired Quenivlle and decided that a second go with Granato was better than the man who took us to the second round of the playoffs and now has the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Chad; Yes, never quite figured out how Pierre Lacroix figured that was a good move. Funny how often big hockey brains get brain cramps.
Hey Scott..With the emergence of Claude Giroux, JVR and possibly Ville Leino, is it possible Philly unloads a Jeff Carter to lower an already immense payroll?
Mike; Agreed that a number of Flyer forwards have stepped up this spring but I think it would have to be a pretty overwhelming deal for GM Paul Holmgren to move Carter at this stage. He's a proven 40-goal guy and they just don't grow on trees. It will be interesting in the next couple of years to see how he integrates all those pieces into the line-up and under the cap. I think he'd be more likely to try and move Daniel Briere than Carter.
when you say that philly's chances "are good" to beat chicago, does that mean that you're picking them to win the cup? or do you mean they are better than most people probably think, but you're still picking chicago?
jon; If I answer that now you won't want to read my Stanley Cup preview and/or my predictions for the series. But I will say this, leaning toward sticking with Flyers but there remains the small matter of the Montreal Canadiens first. And having waited for the Habs to go over the cliff all spring I guess I'll believe it when I see it.
Can the Blackhawks solve their cap issues by dumping Huet now that Niemi is crealy their future in goal? What else would they need to do to get under the cap for next year?
Aaron; I'm not sure burying Huet in the minors will get it all done vis a vis the cap. I still think they may be in a position where they have to move a guy like Kris Versteeg although I think most teams will be looking to pry Patrick Sharp out of Stan Bowman's hands. If I'm Stan I hold on tight to Sharp.
Scott, if we are talking about depth and defense seperately, who takes it? Phila or Chic?
Skip; Here's the thing, I think they match up pretty well. With Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere back and with Leino and van Riemsdyk playing well the Flyers match up against a very fast, skilled 'Hawks team that isn't afraid to mix it up. The 'Hawks blue line is to die for with Keith and Seabrook playing a ton of minutes and the rest falling in behind but Chris Pronger and Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn aren't chopped liver. Overall slight edge to Chicago.
With Marleau?s inspired play in the Western Conference finals, did he price himself out of San Jose, or make himself more indespensible? And after going invisible for so many games, did Pavelski literally cost himself millions? Is there any chance both stay with the Sharks next year?
Dwight; Marleau is interesting because he did have a terrific conference final. But he, like Thornton and Heatley will carry the stain of not being to get it done once again when it mattered. Marleau's a talent and someone will pay him $5 to $6 million. Sharks can't afford that I don't think. Will he stay for less? How much less? And what or who do you replace him with? As for Pavelski he's a terrific young player and sometimes they hit a wall in the post-season. He'll be part of the Sharks future for a long time and he should be.
Please give me 3 reasons why the Habs won't win it all.
Black Eye; I think the Habs have hit a wall physically/emotionally.Too little from key guys like Tomas Plekanec, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez.Someone covers their skates with pine tar before Game 5.
Scott, have you heard when Game 1 of the Finals would be should the Flyers close things out tonight?
Steve; Just an educated guess but would think Saturday night.
is toews the 2nd best center behind sid in the nhl
bill; Best in terms of leadership, producing when it counts, production?Toews has been dominant this spring and he reminds me of Crosby the last two springs. Funny how a guy like Nicklas Backstrom who just signed that huge extension doesn't really factor into a conversation like this and won't until the Caps go deep in the playoffs. Overall, though, I think that's a pretty fair statement right now.
Scott - Who has the more intimidating fans, flyers or habs?
Ted; Good question. Flyers fans more likely to destroy your car while tailgating. Habs fans more likely to hurl stuff on the ice and then loot and pillage local businesses. As for the actual atmosphere in the building I think the Bell Center is as good as it gets. Of course all it takes is a goal to suck the life out of them as we saw on Saturday in Game 4.
who will have a better career towes or kane
bobby; That's sort of like the Betty and Veronica question (not that I'm comparing Patrick Kane to Betty. Or Veronica.) I think of Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg in their prime in terms of two dynamic players who had distinct personalities and skill sets. Sakic and Toews are similar in terms of their leadership and all-around games while Kane may be the more dynamic and produce more points. If they can keep them both it's a pretty good debate for a team to have.
I realize it's strange timing for this question, but what will Philly do in the offseason in net? I think everyone (myself included) figured they'd be proven foolish to have entered the playoffs with probably the worst goalies on paper, yet here they are about to punch a ticket to the finals. Can they enter 2011 with Boucher and Leighton as "the" guys?
Will; It's a puzzler for sure. I, too, was critical of how the Flyers had left themselves vulnerable in goal and of course that hasn't been the case at all. And it would seem cruel after all that both Leighton and Boucher have done to get the Flyers this far to go another direction but that's a hard choice for Holmgren. Boucher has another year left on his deal but Leighton will an unrestricted free agent. Someone will want him that's for sure. Just not sure if it'll be Philly.
Seriously: how can Montreal still justify playing Marc-Andre Bergeron? The man is absolutely pitiful on defense, his offensive presence isn't nearly as strong as, say, Subban's and you should try asking Dwayne Roloson how smart he is around the net.With the Habs playing a team like Philly, who have such a strong inside presence around the net, why have they been wasting so many 5x5 shifts on a guy like Bergeron when they had Ryan O'Byrne sitting on the bench? It seems to have taken J. Martin four games to figure this out and by now the Habs are in too big of a hole.
David; Well, there was that thing with Andrei Markov being out for the season. And Bergeron is too important to the Hab power play to have out of the line-up and Ryan O'Byrne, while a big body, has struggled at times in the playoffs. In short, Jacques Martin is playing the cards he's been dealt. Sadly, some of the cards look like two's and three's.
I think Nick Backstrom is the second best center in the league, do you think it was a smart move licking him up for the next 10 years or does the risk outweigh the reward?
Aaron; Think Backstrom is a terrific talent. But 10 years is a long time. I think there's something to be said for the external motivation of a new contract, of getting that next pay day. Now, if he hits 100 points a year for a decade he's a bargain. Pretty big if though.
Leaning toward Philly?!?!?!?!?!?! Are you serious? I mean, I understand that the Hawks ain't sweeping anyone in the SCF. But c'mon, have you watched any playoff hockey this year? J/K, but the Hawks can play any style, any tempo, anytime, anywhere. They've battled so hard in some of these games! Your statement is borderline ridiculous! Thoughts? Ha!
Imre; I managed to sneak in a couple of post-season games. You guys ask I answer. Sorry if the answer offends your delicate sensibilities. Just wondering did you pick the Flyers to beat New Jersey and Boston? And Montreal? Me? Yes, I did.
Now that a lot more games have been played since they were eliminated, what can teams like Pittsburgh and Washington take away from the playoffs to help make sure they're not both on the outside looking in again when it comes time to next year's finals?
Norm; For the Penguins I'm not sure it's necessarily about learning a lesson but having to admit the toll the last two playoff years took on them. The additions they made at the deadline didn't have the impact they did the previous two springs. Sometimes it works out that way. I think for the Caps the lessons will be easier to learn in terms of working hard right to the end, not assuming things will go your way. Next year is going to be a big test for Alexander Ovechkin and the rest of the leadership group there, they have to prove they've learned their lessons and like the Sharks none of what they do in the regular season will mean a thing until they are at least in a conference final.
Will the Sharks re-sign Nabby if not who will be the starting tender next year? Turco? Price? Ellis?
Stefan; I think a lot will depend on how much he wants and frankly if I was going to make one significant change on that roster I would move on from Nabokov. What about Michael Leighton if the Flyers don't lock him up? But Ellis is an interesting guy. Think it's still too early for the Habs to move Carey Price. And Marty Turco might be an option depending on the dollar/term he's looking for now that his run in Dallas is over.
What Is Montreal Going To Look Like Next Year???
Neo; Short. Sorry. Couldn't resist. Depending on how much money Tomas Plekanec wants (he hasn't done himself any favors this spring) he could be gone which would open up the door for the Habs to look for another center - Marleau anyone? And I will be surprised if GM Pierre Gauthier makes a move in net unless another GM comes at Halak with an offer sheet the Habs might not be able to match.
Whose the one free agent you sell the farm to get signed?
Chris; Well, most will look at Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Gonchar, Marleau or Nabokov. Two guys who are real talents but don't have the same profile I am interested in watching; Dan Hamhuis in Nashville and Paul Martin in New Jersey. Both are building block defensemen and could make a big impact on an emerging team.
Scott; so far in this chat you gave defense and depth to Chicago, albeit slightly. Neimi just shut down Vancouver and San Jose, much higher power offense than Boston and New Jersey and Montreal. You're entitled to your opinion, but where does Philly have the edge? Forwards? probably not. Penalty Kill? definitely not. Coaching? Home Ice? Struggling to find areas that Philly is definitely better than Chicago.
george; Didn't say Philly was definitely better than Chicago but am pointing out that in spite of the fact the 'Hawks will be overwhelming favorites a Cup final between these two teams will be a lot closer than people imagine.
Scott; how are the Red Wings gonna be next year
Mike; It will be an interesting off-season for the Wings with Nicklas Lidstrom deciding whether to come back or not (I am guessing he'll give it one more), Jiri Hudler likely back. Can Jimmy Howard deliver the goods again as a mature sophomore? Barring the calamity of injuries they had this past season they're a for-sure playoff team. Beyond that? Way too early to tell if this year is just a blip on the Cup radar for the mighty Wings.
Any news on the gonchar contract talks?? You have to think the pens resign him righy?? love the blog btw
Jeremy; I think it's going to be a tough one for GM Ray Shero. To get Gonchar's dollar figure down to where it fits cap-wise he's likely going to have to give more term than he wants and then you're into possible cap problems down the road. I think the Letang contract signaled the end for Gonchar unless he really does want to finish up in Pittsburgh. My guess is he's gone.
What do you see in store for the Rangers next season?
Ryan; Overpaid, underachieving players, bitter disappointment, sharp words from John Tortorella. Pretty much status quo. Sorry. Honestly, it all begins with what the Rangers are prepared to do with their blue line; can you move Rozsival and/or Redden. Unlikely. Do you bury Redden's contract in Hartford? If you do you have some flexibility to find some strength down the middle which is lacking and maybe a defensive anchor. But until the team is prepared to acknowledge what everyone knows, that Glen Sather's made a hash of things there it'll be much the same story for the boys at MSG.
Do I sense a little of that elusive east coast bias going on that ESPN loves?
Brian; Not sure it's an ESPN bias. I know Pierre LeBrun, who's been covering the west all spring, is all over the 'Hawks. I've been in the east all spring and so I think you tend to lean to what you know first-hand. The same dynamic was at play in '07. I'd covered the Sens pretty much all the way through and thought their skill and speed matched up pretty well against Anaheim whom I hadn't seen live at all that year. The Ducks of course ate the Senators' lunch. Same thing two years ago covering Pittsburgh. Thought they matched up well against Detroit and it wasn't really close. So, if you're a 'Hawks fan you should be happy.
How good do you think the chances are of the Kings getting Kovalchuk this offseason? And do you think he would be a good fit in their defense-first system?
Andrew; I think the chances are good. As for whether he fits, not sure. He's a bit of a wild card in terms of fitting into a system or scheme. He didn't play poorly in New Jersey but I think his presence upset some of the rhythm of the room. He wants to win and plays hard but he's never going to be a Selke guy, that's for sure.
What do the Ducks need to do this offseason to make them a contender again?
Ash; I don't think they're that far away. Liked the deal for Lubomir Visnovsky at the deadline. Jonas Hiller looks like the real deal. Should be pretty good depth up front. I look for the Ducks to be back in the post-season next April.
Okay folks, off to see if the Canadiens will ruin my travel plans one more time this spring. Until next week.