Welcome back to our new chat day. I like it. Now, where were we?
What's your take on the hit on Pominville last night? People close to the Sabres seem to have one view while others around the league seem to have been watching a totally different hit. Do you think he should be further penalized, whether the hit was intentional or not?
Keith; I was watching and didn't think it was as dangerous a play as we've seen in other situations. But the fact still remains Hjalmarsson hit Pominville when he was in a vulnerable position. I am guessin three or four games.
Any reason not to expect a repeat year from Patrick Marleau? His shot percentage (16.1%) was slightly higher than his career shot percentage (14.5%), but there is definitely some variability in those numbers in his past season (he shot 17.8% one year and 10.3% the next in 06-07 to 07-08). Any reason for the variability and his good rates last year?
Jim; I must admit I don't pay much attention to shooting percentage but rather shots taken and scoring chances (which most teams track internally). And to answer your question I see no reason Marleau shouldn't be back in the top 10 in point production. The Sharks are offensively deep and that means extra pressure on opposing defenses which means Marleau should see lots of good opportunities five-on-five and on the power play.
Jimmy Howard is off to a fantastic start so far with a shutout in his first game. A lot of the Wings success will hinge on how he plays this season, do you think he can keep it up or will he have a Steve Mason like Sophomore slump?
Steven; It's going to be interesting to see how Mike Babcock deploys his goaltenders. I was a bit surprised to see Chris Osgood get the second start of the season (also a Wings' win) but I don't see much back-sliding given that Howard is older than Mason and playing for a much better team.
Are the days of 90+ points gone for Jarome Iginla? Should we expect about 30-35 goals in 40ish assists?
Sal; Hard to know what to expect of one of the classiest guys in the league. Not a fan of change for change sake but maybe Iginla would find that offensive chemistry again somewhere else. He's off to another slow start in Calgary and he puts so much pressure on himself it's hard to imagine him getting anywhere near a point a game.
What can we expect from Vinny Lecavalier this year? Back to 40ish goals and 90 points overall in an improved TB offense or do Stamkos and St. Louis limit his points celing?
Jake; Another intriguing story line for the coming season. I don't see Stamkos/St. Louis/Downie et al limiting Lecavalier's point production. He'll determine whether he gets back to that elite level or not. I still think he has it in him. But he'll never get a better chance assuming he stays healthy to reclaim that role. I think he will.
So watching Horton in the first couple games I am thinking he should easily get 40-45 goals this year, your thoughts??? Thanks...
Guy; Well, not sure 'easily' and 40 goals will ever appear in the same sentence for Horton (or for many guys for that matter). Horton's issue has been one of durability and consistency. He'll get plenty of opportunity playing top six minutes and oodles of PP time in Boston. He should be in that range given his tools. Still, I'll be surprised if he's much over 30 when all is said and done.
I know it is early, but Evander Kane looks really good this season.. What type of numbers do you think he is capable of this year?
Flad; Yes, the sophomore looks bigger and more confident this season (stands to reason I guess) and with Craig Ramsay introducing a system that promotes speed and creativity Kane should have success. Just a guess, but 30 goals would be nice.
Who do you think wins the starting goalie spot in San Jose? Nittymaki or Niemi?
Chris; I am not sure this is a question that will get answered until well into the New Year. I think the Sharks would like to go into the playoffs with the Sharks equally comfortable with both which means making sure both get lots of opportunity. As long as both deliver quality starts I think they'll be pretty close to 50-50. In the end, though, have to figure Niemi with his Cup experience will get the edge all other things being equal.
Give us your predictions on Sheldon Souray - when will he be back in the NHL and where will he play? You have to think that he'll end up somewhere like Columbus or NYI once he's put on reentry waivers, right?
Mel; New Jersey. Okay. Just kidding. If they pick up Souray they'll have to play with five skaters every night. I think you're right with Columbus being a team that could use his skills and he would be worth the risk at half his salary if he's claimed on re-entry waivers. Still pretty early for teams to be fiddling with that big a ticket though. Of course if Wisniewski gets a big hit from the league that might force the injury-plagued Isles' hands more.
Thoughts on Wisniewskis actions? Its a shame, he looks to have a break out year and there is no need for these shenanigans!
Denny; A truly selfish display from a player that has lots to offer a young, emerging Islanders team.
Hot start from Derek Roy...expect more of the same throughout the year with his contract up end of year?
Don; Was noting that as I was watching some of the Sabres/'Hawks game last night. I am more interested to see what he brings next spring assuming the Sabres qualify for the post-season.
how short of a lease do you think jon quick has this year? ive been really impressed with what we've seen with bernier..
Jay; Well, let's just say it's more a choke collar than a leash for Quick this season. There are lots of hockey folks who think Bernier is the future of the Kings' goaltending. How Quick reacts to significant pressure on him to perform will be an interesting story. If he responds the Kings have a great one-two punch, if he folds, well, better to know in December and January than mid-April.
How about them Wings, huh? Can Datsyuk and Zetterberg get back to what they were in 2008, this season?
sarah; Great start for the Wings although with news of Brian Rafalski's knee exploration it is a reminder of how fragile the Wings' seemed last season. If both Datsyuk and Zetterberg can stay healthy, though, like them both at the point-a-game clip while continuing to be almost impossible to score against.
Everyone seems to think that Varlamov will be given the chance to seize the starting role in Washington once he's back, but why? Neuvirth seems every bit his equal, and unlike Varlamov he's signed beyond this year, so shouldn't the presumption be in the other direction?
Jordan; I think it's a little bit like the Kings' situation where they have a guy with some experience in the playoffs but not a ton. Varlamov has shown good skills but not great durability. Like Bernier, many think Neuvirth is the better option in goal long-term. I think Bruce Boudreau will want both to get a lots of looks before they have to make a decision heading into the post-season.
Are you a believer in me???
Sergey; I just want to know why no one but me wants to call you Bobo the Goalie. Bob is so boring. But to answer your question; yes. Happy days in the Philly nets for a change.
Did you see the Kings wearing the throwback purple and gold the other night in Vancouver? Why on Earth would they wear anything else? And further, can someone convince the Hurricanes to just go ahead and wear the old Whalers jerseys?
Tim; Love the purple and gold. As for the Whale, can you imagine the outrage all over the greater Hartford area if the 'Canes decided to go retro? Talk about salt in a long-festering wound.
With Jeff Finger being waived today and the Leafs now having over 4.5 million in available cap space do you feel there is a move in the making or is Burke going to let the kids play for now? They've looked good albeit in only two games.
Luke; As we've seen with the Devils having cap space is as important asset as there is in today's NHL. I don't see the Leafs rushing to do anything until a need crops up. I'm sure one will and Burke has positioned himself well to react to whatever it is; scoring outage, injury etc.
Who do you believe in the Coyotes sales fiasco? Mayor Scruggs who says they've done all they can, or Gary Bettman who says Glendale is the primary negotiator?
John; Well, having a pretty good sense of the mishandling of this from the Glendale end of things (there's a good reason they call it Gongdale) I think the fault lies pretty squarely with local politicians who have squandered a vast amount of taxpayers' money but are dithering over completing a deal that needs to be completed. The clock continues to tick towards a return of NHL hockey to the 'Peg.
What your take on Eric Staal - eilte player who's been limited by a subpar supporting cast, or someone who might not be much better than his roughly point per game numbers even if he was surrounded by better talent?
Lyle; I think the fact Eric Staal was named to the Canadian Olympic team in spite of an injury-plagued first half last year tells you all you need to know about how he is regarded. He can play on my team any day. If he can stay healthy he's a top five or six center in the NHL. Sometimes it's not just point production and Staal embodies that.
How much do you think Andreas Lilja will help the Ducks Defense this season?
Daniel; At the risk of sounding flippant he could hardly hurt them. Lilja learned from being with one of the best organizations in the game (Detroit) so that's a good thing. But he's also a guy whose influence will be more in solid play than in producing points.
The Avs are dying for a top pairing D man. Do they hope Cohen or someone in house can rise to the challenge, or do they try to jump in on Souray or Kaberle? Andy can't do it all himself
Matt; The problem with a guy like Souray apart from his durability issues is that he upsets your salary structure. True, you only have to pay him for this year and next but it's a pretty big risk for a team that has lots and lots of potential and doesn't want to rush the process. Still, could they use a big bomber from the back end like Souray? Sure.
Thoughts on the Rangers?
Ryan; Which Rangers team? The one that looked so good in beating Buffalo or the one that fiddled around yesterday and looked wildly disorganized in losing to the Islanders? Hard to imagine we won't see a lot of that Jekyll/Hyde kind of stuff from the Rangers all season. That's what happens when you entrust so much responsibility to a very young blue line and have virtually no depth down the middle. Thanks Glen.
what place are the hawks gonna finish in the division
mark; I picked them to win the Central. Wings will make it tough but I still think Chicago hangs on.
You have to feel bad for Thomas Greiss. One minute he was poised to back up Niitimaki and maybe have a chance to grab the starting job in SJ, and now a week into the season he's waived despite still being highly regarded. Will another team pick him up? Is it probably safe to say Minnesota would not have done the Theodore signing if they know this was going to happen?
Dwight; Good point. I was reading somewhere that Greiss might have been the best of the Sharks' three goalies in camp. But like a Kiprusoff or Thomas it may just take some time and the right opportunity for Greiss to get a shot. Thought Atlanta might be interested but apparently no dice there. And your right Greiss might have been a better fit in Minnesota than Theodore. He's one to watch out in the coming weeks to see if and where he might surface.
How do you think the Lightning will do with Stevie Y at the helm?
Kevin; Spent a couple of days in Tampa during training camp and was impressed. His hiring of Guy Boucher may have been his most important move of the off-season. Still wonder about the goaltending and the defensive depth but they should light it up offensively and it will be a big surprise (at least to me) if they don't make the playoffs.
how do you see St. Louis doing this year? Halak in net looks nice.
Eric; Blues need a good start after a couple of seasons where they just weren't ready out of the gate. And Halak has looked great early on which just reinforces that Montreal's trading of him has the potential to go down as one of the worst deals in recent memory. His personality is perfect for a young, talented Blues team; low key, unflappable.
Alright Burnside, admit it, the Leafs are going to run away with the East this year.
I already have my Maple Leaf flag flying from my car. Just like thousands of Leaf fans in Toronto after their 2-0 start. Seriously? Good for them. The playoffs are always a lot more interesting with the Leafs in the hunt than not.
What division(s) do you see as the strongest?
Ryan; I think the Central with the Blues coming on is very tough. Pacific, especially if Dallas can jump back into the fray, is probably the toughest top to bottom. In the east the Atlantic is always interesting because the Islanders are never as bad as people think. Worst? Northwest and Northeast.
Hi, How do you see Stepan's rookie season going? Was it a lucky start or is this kid the real deal?
Chris; Well, it sure was a nice surprise for Ranger fans to see the kid net three in the opener. But as we talked about before the Rangers are desperate for someone to pick up the slack down the middle. Stepan could be one of those dark horses that make for an interesting rookie scoring race. He's sure going to get lots of chances to prove he's the real deal.
Do the Kings keep Schenn on the roster or send him back to the minors? He looks like he belongs so far!
Ross; I must admit I've only seen bits and pieces of the Kings' first two games so can't judge his quality of play. With a group of young defensemen, though, I am wondering if the Kings will take the conservative approach and send him down before he plays his 10th game and save a year on his entry level deal. Just a hunch.
Sure it's early, but Hossa has looked great. Can he return to the 90-100 point level of a few years ago, or is that unrealistic given the depth of talent in Chicago and the fact that he's older now.
Kent; I think with the change in personnel in Chicago Hossa will get all kinds of chances to put up big numbers. Last year, of course, he missed the first part of the season recovering from shoulder surgery. Now that he's won a Cup there's less pressure and it wouldn't surprise me to see him be in that 90-point range.
Who wins the cup this year?
Chris; My pre-season pick was Pittsburgh over Chicago in the final. That pick will look a lot better once Jordan Staal gets back in the mix for the Pens.
What did you think of my game winning goal against the penguins??
Claude; Not to pump your tires too much but you've had a couple of highlight reel shorties so far this season. The pride of Hearst, Ontario (regardless of what Pierre LeBrun thinks).
what team plays the best old time hockey
Eddie; When I think old time hockey I think aggressive forechecking and defensemen pinching and as the Bolts once proclaimed, 'safe is death' hockey. Lots of teams try for that but I like to watch the Wings play as they roll three dangerous lines. Tampa's got lots of that going on, too. But for my money Washington, hair on fire hockey with lots of guys, not just the stars, going to the net on every shift. Pretty fun to watch.
Which team will have the first coaching vacancy?
Mike; Always a mug's game to try and predict firings but I will say this, Anaheim's start has been particularly grisly and the Minnesota Wild need to be better than they've been the last couple of years and didn't look all that good in Helsinki. And then there's poor Scott Gordon with no contract beyond this season on the Island, not much of a safety net there. In general, Mike, always a good idea to keep your resume handy early in the season. Just ask Joel Quenneville.
Well folks, thanks as always for tuning in. Let's reconvene here next Tuesday.