Hey all. At the united center for final day of practice. Things just wrapped up for hawks and bettman has addressed the media. Flyers are in the ice now. We are almost there! Fire away with questions
Jesse, I know Laviolette likes to play a more open style and take some chances, but do you think he will change that for the opening game. More of a trap make the hawks dump style? Love reading your work down here, keep it up!
Good first question. I cant answer that fully since Im not in the coaches meetings BUT I think if Philly gets up on the Hawks, he might tone it down. To start the finals you want to let your guys play so I think the beginning will have a great pace. Lets see how they play if the flyers get the lead
The Hawks are saying all the right things - great, but what vibe or feeling do you get underneath all the talk and hype? I really hope that they're talking Philly very, very seriously - from everything I've read they've got a bit of all the best attributes from the 3 teams we've faced so far. Very excited and optimistic, but cautious as well. I'm thinking Leighton is in for a rude awakening thought we he faces a more high-powered and highly skilled offense... Thoughts?
I would agree with most of that...theyve been taking things seriously for a while now.I guess going back to game 6 against Vancouver...they respect Philly...not going to take a team in the finals lightly. I would agree with your Leighton assesment. Same thing Niemi went through when they went from Nash to Van
Are the Blackhawks still going to be staying in hotels before home games? It seemed to work, so why stop?
They will for Game 1 tomorrow. After the morning practice they will go to a hotel till game time. I would assume they would do it for monday but one game at a time
Hey Jesse, I love all your work and you my favorite writer on ESPN. Quick question, I was wondering if you know if Jonathan Toews (Tazer_19) and Patrick Kane (kanehawks) twitter profiles are actually them?
I dont believe so. I dont think any Hawks are on twitter..but I could be wrong. Dont think so
I know I shouldn't be thinking about this, but is it possible for a player to take a salary cut if he truly wants to be apart of the this team next year? We keep hearing how close this team is how they want to stick together next season.
No. Players association would not allow, etc.
We can basically say that Ladd will not be playing in Game 1, what are the advantages and disadvantages of having Kopy play instead?
Defensively you dont miss much. Kopecky can play with a nice edge to his game...offensively, Ladd is a better player so you lose some decent hands in that zone...
Hey Jesse, how do the lines shuffle out if Ladd does miss game 1?
Just Kopecky in for Ladd. Thats it
What scares you most about the Flyers team?
I would say their ability to play diff styles..its something none of the first 3 teams could do. If Pronger neutralizes Buff than they have to find scoring elsewhere..that will change the dynamic...
What will be the biggest challenge for the Blackhawks vs Philly? Is Michael Leighton that good, or will the Blackhawks style of offense be too much for the journeyman?
I think Leighton is beatable. Being big he isnt the most athletic. Montreal, for the most part, didnt challenge him in that way and I think the Hawks will. He admitted he wasnt the reason they won the last series plus this will be his first try at looking around Buff so new challenges all over for him
Be back in a couple min. Dont go anywhere!
Ok, sorry. Had to check something
Jesse, would you happen to know if NBC and/or Versus will be televising the national anthems during the Finals? Can't think of 2 better rinks when hearing the anthem in Chicago and God Bless America in Philadelphia.
I dont know but I would imagine its something being discussed. It doesnt take a genius to figure out that would be a good idea. They have to do it in both arenas to be fair
Jesse,Can we just take a moment and acknowledge right now that Chris Pronger is possibly the best playoff defensemen of all time... I mean how many players have gone to 3-4 differnet teams and been a primary reason they have got to the finals?
All-time is a long time but he makes every tema better, no doubt. Hes been huge this postseason. Gotta give him his props
Is it a lock that Kopecky will go rather than Fras if Ladd can't go (or play effectively)?
Nothing is a lock but it looks that way
Lots of talk every where of the Hawks being favored and the Flyrs being the Underdog. Do you get the sense that the Hawks are feeling favored?
Not really. They know what people are saying about them but by now they've heard it all. They've been favored in every series in most people's minds so dont think its a big deal
Jesse does anyone in Chicago respect the Flyers talent at all, or are they just figuring out where they want to stand for the parade
The problem is no one in chicago (including me) has seen much of he Flyers. Its diff than San Jose or a divisional opponent. On paper, It would be hard to overlook a team that has done what the flyers have done. Its impressive
Since the Hawks have proven rather capable of getting in the heads of their opponents in previous series, who do you think will be the prime target for this series? Conversely, who on the Blackhawks roster do you think is most susceptible to head games from opponents?
I dont think it comes into play here.Both teams have good leadership--something I owuld not have said about van or San Jose. I hthikn this comes down to hockey..
If Ladd is out for any number of games, can Q really have enough confidence to send Bolland's line out there against Richards-Carter-Gagne? If Ladd is out, doesn't it make sense to put Kopecky back up with Sharp and Hoss and move Brouw down to the checking line?
Legit question. First, dont think Ladd will be out that long but right now, he likes the flow of the other lines...this makes just one change..I kind of like the way hes doing it as well...maybe if we knew Ladd was out for the series it might be different. Remember, it can change afer one shift
Jess, Rank these Conn Smythe favorites, assuming the hawks can win in the Finals. Niemi, Toews, Bolland, Byfuglien, Kane, Keith, Seabrook.
Toews, Niemi, Byfuglien, Keith, Bolland, Seabrook..though bolland has been huge, checking line centers dont win Conn Smythe
Jeff,Why do people assume Leighton will crack and not Niemi? Neither have a long track record and Leighton has played phenomenal since coming to the Flyers and working with Jeff Reese, who tweaked the way he played from years past.
Cause if Niemi hasnt cracked yet, there is no reason to believe he will now. Hes been tested by diff styles and shooters throughout during 5 on 5 and pp, etc. And with big shot totals to boot..45 and 46 shots against just in last round. Hes passed every test. Leighton has not passed every test. Simple as that.
Jesse, do you think big buff and pronger will be matched up a lot when buff sits down in front of the goalie and do you expect pronger to use his leverage and try to move him out of there?
Yes. On pp and 5 on 5. If Philly doesnt make that happen, they're nuts
Heard a little talk about President Obama possibly dropping the puck in game 1, what are you hearing? Do you think it's likely or more 50-50?
I think he makes an appearance. Dont know about dropping the puck Sure the NHL would love that though
Philly will win this series if ... (fill it in for me Jesse, what has to happen)
They win the special teams battle and steal at least one game by throwing the hawks off THEIR game. ya know, philly gets up 2-0 and frustartes the hawks the rest of the way. They need one that way..in my opinion
Jesse, Duncan Keith is quickly becoming my favorite Hawk of all time, am I jumping the gun here?
No, i dont think so. If you like taht kind of player who's motor is ALWAYS running and now has an offensive game I could see why.
What do you think of the FL Panthers signing of Dale Tallon as GM? Can he get us to the playoffs (after 10 years and how long will it take him to turn it around)?
You are going to have to give him time. Good talent evaluator and can talk to a player and know if hes serious about the game. He will move the "soft" players and reshape things but over time.
what kind of "feeling out" period do you expect to start game 1?
I really dont. I think both teams come out flying. They've been off all week, they both like to skate. I think it starts fast and then maybe slows down. Obviously, I could be wrong but I kind of get that feel for this one
With how well the 'Hawks are playing right now, do you Phili making this series stretch into 6 or 7 games?
I do. I cant see a quick series. Philly has enough going that they get a couple games and they have enough character that after everythig thats gone on, they wont give in easily...
Another Game 1 at home...do you think we manage to win this one?
I cant tell you but I do know Q is trying to imitate everything about that game 1 against San Jose. And also what they did before Game 3 back at home against the Sharks...so they should be prepared the right way
How are the ice conditions with this warmer weather we are having?
I think no better or worse than earlier but remember it's not the best ice by any means in the first place. Q couldnt even definitviely say today that it was great just the same as it has been..so as far as i can tell the weather hasnt made it any worse
Since many of us in Chicago have not watched the Flyers much at all this year, who is their version of Adam Burish? Who for Philly hits the ice with the intention of looking for trouble?
Daniel Carcillo is one guy
Jesse, why isnt anyone given Kane his props, its all about Buff and Toews these days. I don a Toews jersey at games but lets please give credit to the most creative magician on ice !
I would agree with that. Kane has turned into a player that on his worst days he's still pretty good. You can say that about toews and maybe hossa as well..and Kane wasnt that kind of player even as recent as last year so you are right...Part of the reason Buff and even JT are going well is because a lot of eyes remain on him when he has the puck..I bet a lot of people are surprised his third in playoff scoring in the NHL
How do you foresee the power play situation working out for this series? Which team do you think is likely to take more penalties?
Good question. I still think how the refs call some of the BUff/pronger stuff could play a big part in things. The Hawks have proved to be disciplined so far in the playoffs. Not trying to be a homer but I think if things are called fairly the Hawks should get the pp edge.
Hi Jesse: Huge fan here in the West Coast. There is such a great balance on this team. Anyone can score at any time, anyone can play great defense at any time. , and everyone appears to be happy all the time. Is team chemistry that great? Thanks and good luck
It sure seems like it. That depth is a key. I would not have been worried with any of the 4 lines on the ice against Thoronton..if fact they all had time against him and did well...Maybe richards line is a little diff but certianly the hawks top 3 lines can concievably handle them..
I believe the flyers scoring depth is being overlooked. Carter(40 ),Richards(30 ),Briere(30 ),Gagne(40 ),Hartnell(25 ).Giroux(developing 25 ).JVR(developing 20 ). This is enough offense, with the four defensive monsters and a hot goalie. I wouldn't get to overboard with Chicago running away, this series goes minimum of 6, more likely 7
Bettman announced the cap will be going up $2MIL next season do you think this will be enough to keep this Hawks team together next year or can we expect departures and who are the most likely to leave?
Still going to have departures...as I and many have written a lot depends on that Huet salary..versteeg, madden, burish, ladd, eager, candidates for most likely to leave
Why does Hossa pull a disappearing act on offense every playoffs?
Only in the finals does he disappear so maybe this time around since hes been quiet UNTIL the playoffs, he breaks out. I really believe he will. Hes right there, now just has to finish
We here a lot about Chicago's offensive depth, and their defense, but in your opinion, has Chicago faced a team yet that has Philly's offensive depth and thier top two defensive pairings?
Vancouver should have been that team even with Willie Mitchell out but the Hawks neutralized them. If Bolland can do to richards what he did to thornton and sedins than the Hawks are in good shape. If they have to use Toews, etc. to play him and in his own end than advantage Philly
Jesse, do you think toews stays hot and the one that leads the team or will we see a new face like hossa or sharp step up where toews has been stepping up?
Could never bet against Toews but I do think that Hossa line shold have a good series. Might be Hossa's turn..
Is Hossa your pick for the Hawk most likely to have a big breakout in this series? Anyone else you see stepping up big for the first time in the playoffs here?
Pretty hard question cause Flyers are not truly WEAK in one area where you mght say this guy or that will break out but I will go with Hossa. I just cant see this lasting all playoffs..but remember he has 9 or 10 assists..still been good.
Carcillo might not even dress this series...Scott Hartnell is the next in line for "agitator/dumb penalty taker"
Do you expect a tightly played game? Do you expect the familuar faces putting the puck in the net or should we expect some surprises on who gets the job down?
There are always surprises. I dont think it will be tight in game 1. Both teams want to let their guys go and then make adjustmetns. Thats what I've gathered.
We've seen this young hawks team handle the pressure well through 3 rounds, as evidenced by not losing more than 1 game in a row. The stanley cup finals is a different animal entirely. Do you think the hawks will handle the pressure of the SC Finals? Can they come back as strong after a loss as in previous rounds?
I think so. Notsure why its all that different. Last round was supposed to be a showdown between two top teams in conferce and it was one sided. They have been great respinding to losses. I cant see why that would change unless Philly just blows them out and they're in shock but not even then do I think it fazes them for the next game
Hello Jesse,Does it bother you that most of Chicago has jumped on the Blackhawks bandwagon because of there recent success, while Flyers fans have never left ?
Why would it bother me? Its good for business. lol. No, its is fine. Hope they stay and it becomes a little more "mainstream" even in non-finals years.
We all know that Pronger is a stud D man, any other insights as to who is solid defensively for the Flyers. If Pronger sticks Buff, wouldn't that be a good sign for the Hawks cuz that is much more room for Toews and Kane to skate around? THanks alot Jesse and keep up the good work!
Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen obviously are 2 other guys...Its why that line is so good. You're damned if you do do and you're doamned if you dont. Keep eye on Buff and here comes Kane, leave Buff and here comes a rebound goal..That line is just great right now
i'll give chicago a lot of credit for mopping the floor with all the high skill no grit/sacrific teams in the west (ie. for san jose and vancouver). However, this is not being talked about in the media at all and i think its a very valid point, where philly holds the biggest advantage is they have played two physical series and are a physical/heart/shot blocking club... no knock on san jose, but how many guys did you see diving infront of pucks for a blocked shot in that series... chicago is terrific against teams who let them skate freely and never clog up shooting lanes, which is why the WCF were played end to end so quickly. do you agree that this is being overlooked by the media and could be a factor?
I would agree that the Flyers versatility is being overlooked by some and the sharks were a PERFECT macthup for the hawks. Thats why Im not picking a sweep! That heart the Flyers show is bigger than Van and San Jose. Agreed.
Why is Philly's defense getting all of this attention when the highest scoring offense they have faced (NJ) still scored at a lower clip than Nashville throughout the course of the season, yet many Philly fans point to Chicago haveing to go 6 games in the first series as a point of weakness?
And there is the crux of the matter. NJ, Mon, and Boston. Not exactly three high flying teams. I think Leighton is in for the biggest surprise. The Hawks have faced all styles in thier 3 rounds, I dont think Philly has...my opinion
Do you have a feel for how the Flyers are approaching the series? Are they confident? Perhaps a bit unsure?
I asked around yesterday to them to get the feel if they were "just happy to be there" and the feeling I got was they've come this far with miracles going thier way, it would be a shame to end it without the Cup so it seems like they committed themsleves to that once they got by Boston.
Ok, thats it for the final chat before tomorrow. At 6 pm on Saturday we'll do one with Pierre Lebrun, Scott Burnside, etc. You can access on espn.com or espnchicago.com follow me on twitter @espnchihawks. I'll be tweeting from morning skate tomorrow. I'll be on espn 1000 in 5 pm hour today and ch.11 tongiht at 7 pm! We're almost there. Enjoy! And thanks for the good questions