Hello all, welcome to another edition of frozen rubber chat. Now, where were we?
Bob seems like the long term answer, what will they do when Leighton gets back? Does this team have any holes?
Dan; I like to call him Bobo the Goalie but that's just me. But he does look like the real deal. That said, it's a pretty small sample with the schedule not yet at the quarter-pole. When Leighton comes back and proves he is game-worthy I assume Brian Boucher will find himself with the Phantoms although I suppose some team might claim him on waivers.
Wouldn't it be wise to cut ties with Rolston, take the money you save on the cap hit.. and look at making a trade with a bottom feeding team for a center who can pass the puck to Ilya Kovalchuk? There has to be a player out there that is enticing for the Devils to go take a run at... no?
PJ; Agreed that Rolston's $5 million cap hit is a bit mystifying but therein lies the problem; no one will take that salary unless the Devils will take on someone else's problem. Now, the Bruins will have some cap issues to deal with but not sure they'll want to help the Devils and then they would still need to shed or bury more salary if they were to take on a Michael Ryder or Blake Wheeler and frankly not sure that solves their problems anyway.
What do you think is holding the rangers back from being a great team? Also I noticed where you were reporting from at prudential center about a week ago and I noticed that is where my seats are for the devils games!
Andrew; Well having a number-one center would be a help. And a true power play quarterback on the back end. But they work hard and there's lots of young talent for the first time in a long time (credit to Glen Sather where it is due). Getting Marian Gaborik back will be a boon to an offense that has to work hard for every little scrap.
Hey Scott, i know its early but do you think the Blues trade for Jaroslav Halak to be the trade of the year?
Travis; It is early but no question GM Doug Armstrong may have to answer for this piece of larceny at some point. Terrific piece of horse trading in a league that has very little of it.
Hi Scott, Is Minnesota for real? Goaltending and defense ,plus good special team play. Five on five scoring getting more production. Can they keep it up?
Todd; Kudos to Todd Richards for getting the Wild on track especially when it comes to special teams. Both PK and PP are ranked in the top 10 and that'll get you a long way toward a playoff spot. Do I think they have enough scoring depth? No. Without P.M. Bouchard still and Guillaume Latendresse it's a lot to ask a pretty thin offense to keep this up all the way to April. But, oddly enough, I've been wrong before.
Hi Scott! 2 game suspension for Joe Thornton? Was that a little harsh in your opinion? Also, will the Sharks get some consistancy on offense any time soon? Thanks!
Rachel; No, in spite of what the Sharks say, I thought the suspension was about right. And other GMs I spoke to felt the same way. The problem for the league was that they'd showed video in the pre-season (Willie Mitchell on Jonathan Toews) that was very similar in nature - player out of the box hitting an unsuspecting opponent - and said that was legal. I think the issue if more of communicating what the league wants as opposed to Sharks being hard-done by. As for consistency the Sharks are a bit hard to figure out although they could sure use more help offensively from their back end at this point.
Being a long-time Los Angeles Kings fan, it is interesting to watch the Devils implode with Kovy staying in NJ instead of signed with the Kings. Do you think that the same bad karma would have befallen the Kings had they signed Kovalchuk instead of the Devils? Team chemistry is SO important!
Todd; Well, I'm sure the Kings are happy not to be headed down the path the Devils are traversing although I'm not sure it's all Kovalchuk's fault. Actually I think he made an egregious error in not signing with the Kings. I liked the idea of him playing with Kopitar, Williams, Smyth et al. Who knows how it would have worked out but the Kings are making a strong, early case for being a legitimate Cup contender without Mr. Kovalchuk.
Any hope for Tyler Myers to right the ship? And why is it that so many rookie D-men seem to endure a sophomore slump?
Roy; He's too good a player not to get his game back but it does show you that no matter how much early success a player has when it comes to playing the blue line there's no substitute for experience. Myers isn't the first to go through it but the fact Henrik Tallinder, his partner from last season, is gone, may have something to do with his rocky start. Plus I don't much like the chemistry in that room so that might have something to do with it, too.
With Brunstrom having laid an egg in Dallas an d Gustavsson not exactly taking the NHL by storm, do you think we might finally be able to escape the "best player not in the NHL" hype that seems to have become the norm in the post lockout era?
Sammy; You raise a good point. There's a reason some players aren't in the NHL when they get into their early 20s and usually it's because they aren't good enough. Now, Gustavsson may yet turn into a good NHL netminder but he has yet to become The Monster he was billed as before signing in Toronto. As for Brunnstrom, not his fault he caught the imagination of the media and didn't turn out to be the next Peter Forsberg but it is a lesson for the media and GMs, too, about not necessarily believing the hype.
Hey Scott, I was wondering what is more suprising this season- The play of Evgeni Malkin or the play of Marc-Andre Fleury? Which one is actually hurting the pens more?
Chuck; Good questions and a good chance to plug our 'Game of the Week' tomorrow night as we'll be chatting and following the Penguins/Bruins tilt. Had a chance to chat with head coach Dan Bylsma this afternoon and he says Malkin should be in the line-up and hopes he will build on a good effort against Phoenix. Fluery will take more time for him to get back into a groove although imagine where the Pens would be if it weren't for Brent Johnson who has earned the playing time he's receiving with top numbers. That's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Imagine Brent Johnson facing his old team the Caps in the Winter Classic.
Nikolas Lidstrom is the only defenseman that is scoring more than a point a game. He is 40. How is this possible?
TGO; Freak of nature. Never mind Robert Redford in The Natural Lidstrom's got the lightning bolt stenciled to his sticks. Norris Trophy anyone?
Hi Scott - I asked you this same question last week - any news on the Coyotes ownership situation? Haven't heard a lot of news about it.
Tim; You get points for perseverence. Nothing new to report. Matthew Hulsizer's people still negotiating a new lease with the City of Gongdale, er, Glendale, and a purchase price with the NHL. I think it will happen although Dec. 31 looms larger every day, no?
I know its a little bit early, but as of right now which struggling team do you think will surprise fans with a strong second half of the season and squeak into the playoffs?
Andrew; Well it seems hard to believe but I still think the Devils have too much going on to miss the post-season. And I like how hard the Coyotes play even though they are well behind last year's pace.
Thrashers look the same as always... 10th best in the East. About right?
CC; I don't know. I like how this team battles. They need to get more consistent scoring I think but I still think they'll sneak into the post-season.
I know that 11.75M is a lot of cash, but did I get a steal for Giroux for the next 3 years?
Paul; If he continues to play like Peter Forsberg I think you got a bargain.
What is on your mind if you are Semyon Varlamov? Michal Neuvirth is playing so well. Do you try to rush back or take it really slow to heal all your ailments?
Terrell; Given Varlamov's ongoing issues of durability I think the worst thing that can happen is to rush back in the hopes of reclaiming the starting job. He's still a kid (22)so he's got all the time in the world. Plus he's the one with the playoff experience.
Hey Scott, I am not a Leafs fan but on a scale of 1-10 how close is Wilson to losing his job? Burke doesn't seem like a flip flopping Jerry Jones, but just like Dallas...every issue is magnified in Toronto.
Mustard; Brian Burke has a long history with Ron Wilson and I will be shocked if he fires him mid-season. That said, if they slide out of the playoffs and they cannot show improvement on their special teams he won't survive another off-season in my opinion.
Best one timer in the NHL right now?
Petey; Steven Stamkos. He is a machine.
the stars are awesome entertainment are drawing ZERO fans - even with the world series done and the cowgirls embarrassing themselves. sigh - big d will never be a hockey town...
t; It's not that unusual for a team to experience some elasticity when it comes to bouncing back but not seeing fan support right away. Carolina saw that happen coming out of the lockout, fans not rushing back even though the 'Canes were among the most exicting teams in the game. Tampa will have to show they're the real deal before the crowds really come back to see the Bolts and I expect it will be the same for the Stars. I think uncertainty surrounding ownership also helps add to the lack of buzz around the team. Let's see what happens if they're still playing this well in February.
You said you think NJ will miss the playoff....what about the Sabres?
Gerry; Sorry, I meant I think the Devils can get back into the post-season. As for the Sabres I am less certain. That's a team that seems in need of a shake-up but it isn't likely to happen until the off-season.
Thoughts on the Av's? Can they hold their own in the West with Budaj? We have been down this road before and their lack of depth scares me.
Robin; With all due respect to Budaj he has had opportunities before and never been able to deliver the goods. The Avs have tons of cap room and could use some help along the blue line. It will be interesting to see what they do given how much good young talent they have up front.
Hi Scott,There's a lot of discussion about contracting teams in other sports, what do you think about either the relocation of the southern teams to friendlier hockey climates or the elimination of them?
Tickets; Well, I assume the Coyotes are going to stay in Phoenix at least for the time-being and although it makes for an interesting story, especially in Canada, not sure there's a logical replacement for the good folks in Winnipeg. And with no arena in Quebec City no team is going back there any time soon. Likewise Southern Ontario where I think owners would like to see an expansion team to gather in more money. As for contraction barring another disaster a la Phoenix I just don't see it happening.
Is the Northeast all but won by the Bruins at this point? Or you think one of the other clubs can give them a run for it?
Jim; Well, not sure I would go that far. Let's see what happens if the Habs ever get their PP going. Or if Ottawa can keep getting contributions from Kovalev and Gonchar. But I do like the Bruins' depth and team defense to carry them to the top of the division when all is said and done.
Hey scott, vancouver has so much trouble with defence and injuries, why do you think that is? and also it seems like a goalie graveyard, do you think schneider might take over luongo's job this year?
Cameron; Interesting times for the Canucks with Keith Ballard a healthy scratch tonight vs the Canadiens with Dan Hamhuis expected back. But no, barring injury Luongo is gong to remain the man at least until Chicago eats the Canucks' lunch in the post-season once again.
Bigger 40+ surprise, Lidstrom or Selanne?
David; Both great stories both great guys who will be first-ballot Hall of Famers. Have to say Selanne bigger surprise given the injuries he's had to overcome. Hope we don't say goodbye to either at season's end.
Any hope for the Ducks this year?
Andrew; Speaking of the Ducks. Offensively this is a team that should compare with any team in the West. Defensively, well, that's another story. That said three wins in a row and a terrific turn by Lubomir Visnovsky who has helped stabilize the blue line. Like Paul Mara's quiet leadership there too. I still think it's a rough road to get to the playoffs but don't count them out yet.
Can the Flyers again win the eastern conference this year, with pittsburgh playing poorly as have are and given the caps previous track record in the playoffs?
Sonny; I think the Flyers will be in the hunt for both the Atlantic Division crown and the top seed in the east. Not sure you should count the Pens out yet and the Flyers have shown themselves to be pretty streaky both good and bad the last couple of years. As for the playoffs, great blue line and lots of depth up front. As is always the case, though, the issue of a Cup run will come back to goaltending. Does Bobrovsky look like he can carry the freight for four rounds? Could Leighton return to the form we saw for much of the playoffs (outside most of the final)? A lot to ask I would think.
Afternoon Scott, Are the WIngs in your mind still a legit Finals team or getting a bit long in the tooth for an extended playoff run?
Scott; I still like the Wings to make a long run next spring. Head coach Mike Babcock will try and keep rolling three/four lines and using six defensemen in more or less equal portions to try and keep his troops fresh. He's starting to get production from Modano and Cleary which is important. And he's got Rafalski back so that will take some burden off Lidstrom. Assuming good healthy I still like the Wings to go to a conference final.
"Bobo the Goalie" isn't picking up any steam. He doesn't look like a "clown" out there and the word/sound "Bobo" isn't even in his name....let it go.
Ian; Maybe you're right. Bobrovsky. Bobo. No? Okay. I'm done with it.
Do I smell another 30 goal season? On the way to The Cup Finals?
Justin; The folks in Cobourg, Ontario are proud of you for coming back as strongly as you have so far this season. Not to put the heebie jeebies on you but can't think of many players that have had worse injury luck. But your play is one of the reasons I think the Kings may be ready to go on a nice, long playoff run.
Updated pick for western/eastern stanley cup final?
Imran; Not wavering from my Chicago/Detroit west final pick and Pittsburgh/Washington east final pick. Pens/'Hawks final.Okay, maybe it's looking a little wobbly but I'm not going to change horses until at least January.
John Buccigross's pick of an LA/PHI final doesnt sound that farfetched anymore, does it?!
Doug; He is a wise man. I will give him that.
How is my team looking so far?
Ovi; Hard to complain with how things are going for the Caps at this stage. Bruce Boudreau seems to have addressed much of what ailed the Caps in the post-season. At least so far.
do you think that the Hurricanes will be better than a .500 team this year?
Mike; 'Canes are interesting as they'll have played an inordinant number of road games by the end of December which may give them a better shot at making up ground in the second half of the season. If they stay healthy I think they'll be just north of .500 but just south of a playoff berth. They may just have the rookie of the year, though, in Jeff Skinner.
Okay folks, thanks for coming out. Join us for Game of the Week tomorrow night (6:45 p.m. EST) and next week I'll be in Tampa checking in on the Lightning.