Sorry. Having some technical issues here in Decatur. So, where were we?
Do you think the Atlanta Thrashers defensemen are still making an adjustment to the new system or are Thrashers games going to continue to be played with no defense?
John; I think it's still an issue of adapting to Craig Ramsay's safe is death mentality. I think the personnel in Atlanta is as good as it's been along the blue line and the move to put Dustin Byfuglien back on the blue line is an inspired one. But it is a work in progress. This is a team that's never had a top-ranked blue line and it's going to take some time.
Datsyuk or Kovalev? Who has the better moves?
Jared: On the shootout? Ha. Ha. Okay. Devils fans won't find that funny. Datsyuk. I think better in tight quarters. Different than Kovalchuk which is power/speed based.
Am l still the coach of the Devils on the next homestand?
John; Better put up a couple of W's. But I am guessing Lou makes a change somewhere between Game 20 and 30 unless the Devils can roll out a string of victories.
Hey Scott, what did you think of the Rangers performance against Pit on Monday and what do you expect of them tonight?
Ryan; Good hockey game. Watched quite a bit of it and enjoyed the finish. Lundqvist in good form. Should be another good tilt tonight. Am guessing Lundqvist versus Thomas who is coming off shutout of Devils. Could be OT but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rangers squeak out another one.
What's your thoughts on Marc Andre Fleury's, slow start to the season?
Mike; I must admit I'm a bit confounded by it. Now, last week I thought he looked like he'd turned a corner even though they lost to the Rangers. Put in a couple of nice performances. But confidence is a funny thing and he seemed to have lost his dating back to the last part of last season and the playoffs. The weird thing is we've seen him turn in clutch performance after clutch performance in '08 and '09, lots of times after so-so performances. I am guessing he comes out of it and the Pens are in the mix next spring.
Should the LA Kings be worried about Jonathan Bernier, I know it's hard to come in and play well with limited playing time, but his performances haven't been good.
Mario; I don't think so. We've seen lots of kids come up, play well, step back, at the goaltending position. One of the issues is that Jonathan Quick has played so well there haven't been all that many opportunities for Bernier to get into a groove. Think about Michal Neuvirth who didn't look all that hot in some spare appearances last year and now he looks like he'll be on the ballot for rookie of the year. Bernier's got the tools. Just may take some time to get them out of the box.
Best top 9 forwards in the NHL - Philly, Chicago, or San Jose? I think a case can be made for each team.
Lawrence; Oh, good one. Right now I think the Flyers. Notwithstanding their blanking in Montreal last night they get a ton from all three lines and with their depth down the middle no wonder they're an early favorite to go to at least a conference final if not back to the final itself.
What will happen to Alex Semin when he hits UFA. Do you think he will get a big contract from an NHL team or is he a risk to go to the KHL?
Brian; Semin is such an interesting figure. As you can see by the stats he is a world-class talent. Of course if you've watched him in the playoffs you know that talent can disappear in a heartbeat. I wouldn't be surprised to see the Caps offer him a short-term deal and if they have a good playoff run maybe that's enough for him. Doubt the KHL is appealing given his talent. Going to be fun to watch, though, as some offense-starved team is going to look long and hard at a guy who is a 40-goal threat even if he's short on the compete gene sometimes.
Do you think we'll ever see another team put the "C" on their goalie after the failed experiment with Luongo in Vancouver? Shouldn't the NHL just make a rule that goalies can't wear the "C"?
Wally; Hope not. Maybe at the All-Star Game. You wouldn't think they'd need a rule to prevent the obvious blunder from taking place.
Assuming that Markov is out for the season yet again after hurting the same knee, has he reached the point where even after surgery and rehab he simply might not be the same level of player again?
Tony; It is a fair question. Hard to know but it will be a shame as he is a terrific player when healthy. But to have two devastating injuries to the same knee within seven months suggests it would be difficult if not impossible for him to return to elite status.
Scott - I am a Rangers fan and not to be bias, but the refs were awful in the Pittsburgh game. The Penguins had seven power plays and the Rangers had none. Crosby whacked Girardi in the hands in front of the referee and nothing was called. Overall the refs have been awful this year, what is your take?
Anthony; A couple of questions about the disparity in the penalty calls in that game. And it is hard to believe one team could be so saintly as not to draw a foul. I am sure the league took a good look at that one, too. In general I am reluctant to criticize referees. It's a thankless job and one that requires tons of guts. That said they are human and so sometimes it looks like they're only looking out of one eye. That game between Pitt and the NYR was one of those games.
Who's the Norris Trophy front runner at this point in the season?
Pete; Just put him on my Hart Trophy Tracker list today, Nicklas Lidstrom. Tied for points among defenseman and playing more than 24 minutes a night. If we voted tomorrow my guess is he'd win in a landslide.
Scott - how can one look at Colin Campell's comments about Savard faking injuries and not draw some real negative conclusions about the lack of suspension for Cooke's hit on Savard. In other words, "...Savard is faking injury again, so I'm not goign to suspend Cooke". Doesn't that kind of reasoning lead to the eventual dismissal of Campbell ? I know most of the media likes him, but his role calls for impartiality and it sure doesn't look like he possesses that quality. Your thoughts ?
jd; A few questions on the Colin Campbell e-mail story which has reared its head this week. I have often been critical of the league's handling of discipline and I disagreed with the decision not to suspend Cooke and Mike Richards for his hit on David Booth. The argument was that there was no rule in the book which I think is misguided as both could have been suspended for intent to injure. That said, don't believe for a second Campbell thought, oh, I don't like Marc Savard, no suspension. Guaranteed he doesn't like Cooke. Or Sean Avery whom he didn't suspend for whacking Mike Komisarek in the feet not long ago. Don't like the emails but don't think you can draw a line between the two events.
Do I have a legitimate chance at the Norris, seeing as how I'm outplaying Drew Doughty at the moment?
Jack; Good follow-up to the Norris question above (below?). Given that the Kings are the best defensive team in the NHL right now (unless you watched them get mauled by San Jose the other night) and Doughty has been hampered by injury I think it will be interesting to see if you can get past your reputation as a riverboat gambler and draw attention from Norris voters (I'm one of them). Right now I think you'll be on the radar.
Will Jeff Skinner ever act like an 18 year old and what are his chances looking like for the Calder Mem. Trophy?
William; I like Jeff Skinner's chances to win the Calder Trophy just fine. He has been a real bright spot and there are some who think he might be every bit as good as Taylor Hall and/or Tyler Seguin the cool kids from last year's draft.
Scott- the top 5 teams in the NHL right now are...?
John: Do I have to put them in order?Los AngelesPhiladelphiaDetroitWashingtonVancouver
most impressive player thus far?
craig; Well I would have to go with Steven Stamkos. He is a machine. But of some dark horse guys I'd include Claude Giroux, Mathieu Garon, Chris Stewart, Justin Williams and Loui Eriksson.
Is this finally the year for me to take the Cunucks to the Stanley Cup?
Roberto; Yes. I hear you can buy tickets in bulk for the Hockey Hall of Fame. If, however, you mean play to win the Cup in June, the answer is no. I suspect another visit to Chicago will bring another torturous end to your season. But then again you're used to that, no?
How come the NHL doesn't put everyone in the NHL on the ballot for all-star voting like the NFL and MLB do? For instance, Kris Letang wasn't on the ballot but Fleury is?
Mike; Well, that's because the All-Star Game is a mess. Even though I like the tweaks the ballot comes out right after those are announced and it's a joke filled with injured players, players who are off to grisly starts and sans the names of probably 20 or 30 All-Star worthy players. Did I mention the whole thing is a mess?
Any chance I can or should pick up Vanek? Anyone else I should keep on my radar?
Scott.. why is that neither Hank nor Datsyuk get any burn for the Hart Trophy?
Joe; I think it's the way the Red Wings are built. It truly is winning by committee. Yes Zetterberg and Datsyuk are the two offensive leaders of the team but there are so many guys that shoulder the load too; Franzen, Cleary, Bertuzzi, that it becomes difficult to cast a Hart Trophy ballot for Z and D. Perhaps not fair but life. Don't think they'll care if there's another Cup parade in June in Detroit.
I have heard rumors of a Blake Wheeler trade with Atlanta. Do you think that he would Be a good Fit in Ramsay's system and have you heard anything about this or think its a possibility?
KC; I think you will hear a lot of rumors about Blake Wheeler in the coming weeks as the Bruins try to fit Marc Savard and Marco Sturm into the line-up and under the cap. To Atlanta? Possibly. The Thrashers could use some scoring help and I think any young player would be happy to play for Craig Ramsay.
Who do i send down, boucher leighton or bob?
Paul; I think as long as Leighton is truly recovered from his surgery (herniated disc in his back) then Boucher will be sent to the AHL.
Nathan Horton looks like a new player in Boston. Once everyone is healthy, do they have enough talent and the right system to challenge Philadelphia and Washington in the playoffs?
Justin; There is a lot of early Stanley Cup buzz that surrounds the Bruins. I want to wait and see how they respond to the return of injured players. And Do they really have enough scoring depth? Sure have depth down the middle and the goaltending is terrific. As for Horton, yes, nice start, but we've seen stretches of impressive play before. It's doing it on a consistent basis that will tell the story of whether Horton has turned a corner.
Does Hockey in the sunbelt really make sense? Demographically? Intellectually?
Steve; I think a better question is whether it makes sense to have inadequate or incompetent ownership anywhere in the league but specifically in non-traditional markets. Great ownership in Carolina which is a solid market. Dreadful ownership in Florida and the team is a waste case. Great ownership in Tampa followed by dysfunctional ownership followed by so-far stable ownership. Ownership in Atlanta has always been consumed by other things other than hockey. Guess what? Fans stay away because they haven't won a single playoff game. Give fans a product in any of these markets and they will come out. In my humble opinion.
Who are your top three choices for rookie of the year? And who will win the award?
Rex; Michal Neuvirth, Jeff Skinner, John Carlons. Hard not to pick Neuvirth if he continues his current level of play. If, for whatever reason, Varlamov takes over more starts for Neuvirth, then Skinner.
Scott, I think that Anze Kopitar ought to be considered for the Selke Trophy. Most people know that he's gifted offensively, but it's been awhile since I've seen a top center work as hard as he has on his defensive game, and he's made himself into an outstanding player at both ends of the ice. PP, PK, even strength... He can play in any situation he's asked to play.
Neil; Good point. And I think it's a valid one and again speaks to the coaching job Terry Murray has done in improving the Kings' overall team game. That's the mark of a champion when the team's most skilled player is willing to do the hard things that sometimes take away from point totals.
Okay folks, thanks as always for hanging out. See you next week.