Hello puck fans from snowy Atlanta. There are snowmen dressed as hockey players in my driveway as we speak. And no, not wearing Devils jerseys. Now, where were we?
Let me start by saying that the Flyers will get the last laugh over these all star snubs when their names are being etched onto Lord Stanleys Cup. I digress. Who do you wanna see in next years Winter Classic?
Jimmy; Agreed it's hard to explain how the best team in the Eastern Conference can manage only one All-Star selection (Claude Giroux carrying on the proud tradition of hockey folk from Hearst, Ontario). But I digress as well.If I had my way (and I am rarely consulted by the league on these matters) I would have the Colorado Avalanche visit the Detroit Red Wings at the Big House in Ann Arbor.But I'll settle for the Rangers visiting the Flyers at Lincoln Financial.
Does Wolski have upside for the Rangers, or was the Rozsival trade essentially a salary dump?
Brazzers; Have to hand it to GM Glen Sather he adds a guy who has 25-goal potential and is just 24. Even if he ends up playing second or third line minutes he's a warm body to replace Alexander Frolov and it opens room to make a bigger move at the trade deadline. Are the Rangers painfully young along the blue line now? Yes. But maybe the other shoe will drop before Feb. 28 to add some more experience there.
if you were starting a team and could only pick one of the Sedin twins, which one would you pick and why?
Joe; Great question. Hard to imagine them apart although Henrik's strong play when Daniel was hurt early last season I think was a contributing factor in Henrik's Hart Trophy win. Me, I'd take Daniel because he is the more gifted goal-scorer of the two. Harder to score than to pass although clearly both are world-class talents. Now if they can just get the job done in the playoffs.
Can we talk about the elephant in the room with the Pens? Malkin is not an $8.7 million per year player. He reminds me so much of Jagr just not as talented. He can't win faceoffs,takes stupid penalties,can't kill penalties,and plays defense when he wants.Is he even trade-able at $8.7 million? How about Iginla and a pick for Malkin?
Adam; The uncomfortable light is shining on Malkin now with Crosby out and the Pens off the rails a bit. Oh I think teams would take a chance on him if he was ever to hit the market. But he's just two years removed from a scoring title and playoff MVP performance. Don't believe that just goes away. Well, I guess it has in a way, but hard to believe it would go away forever. Point is well-taken though that it's time for Malkin to stand up and be counted.
do i hear panic sirens in LA
troy; If you haven't heard them yet you soon will. Curious fall from grace by the Kings who looked like they'd turned a corner about a month ago. Now they have one win in seven and don't seem to match up very well against good teams like Chicago, Nashville and Toronto (just kidding about that last one). It's almost as if the team is waiting for GM Dean Lombardi to make some sort of move but there may not be an impact player to bring in. Better now than in April I suppose but troubling for a team that should be trending the other way.
Was that win last night against Detroit what Colorado needed to get back on track? They have scored like that in awhile.
Harv; Agreed that was a big win for the Avs. They had to hang on a bit at the end but moved into a tie for 4th with Nashville (Preds have games in hand) but beating a long-time foe like the Wings has to help the confidence for a young Avs team that has gone more than a bit sideways in the last month or so this was a statement game. Of course the statement only has impact if they can build on it but I think they will.
Rearding the Malkin comment. Has Malkin not stepped in up and played better in the past when Crosby is not in the lineup? His stats prove it. I think Pens fans should thank their lucky stars that they have Malkin on the team since Crosby is out.
Mustard; He has done so in the past, true. But he needs to show more than he's shown for most of this year and with Crosby out with a concussion now would be a good time to do it, no?
If you were Rick Dudley, what moves would you be looking to make to turn the first half success here in Atlanta into a playoff appearance?
Tom; Good question. Once again the team's overall defense isn't quite good enough (they are 24th in goals allowed per game) and the PK isn't very good (27th) but not sure this is personnel or growing pains with a young team and a new coach. I would be surprised if Dudley makes any significant moves. Ownership isn't likely to want to take on any more salary and not sure the answers aren't already in the room.
Do you think all the injuries to the Wings have had an effect on Howard? Also, will these injuries end up ensuring the Wings have their legs come playoff time?
Zack; It's beginning to be a little deja vu all over again for the Wings as they try and soldier on without Datsyuk, Cleary and Stuart for the next few weeks. Last week the loss of a group of key players taxed the Wings and left them short come playoff time. This year they are pretty much in control of a playoff berth but there's no doubt this will impact Mike Babcock's plans to try and evenly distribute ice time especially on the back end and keep his players fresh for the playoffs.
Hi Scott, How surprised would you be if the leafs made the playoffs this year?
Stanley; Unless you know something the rest of us don't given your vantage point it's not going to happen. That said, impressive little run by the Leafs.
How excited are you to see that Patrick Sharp has officially been added to this years ALL-STAR game!?!?!?!?!
Mike; In general I try not to get too wound up about who's in who's not for All-Star but I will say Patrick Sharp is one of those guys who really deserves the honor. He's been a rock for a team that is still trying to get it's game going. Great guy in that room.
Gut feeling: does Holmgren look to trade for a goalie at the deadline (i.e., Vokoun), or will he stick with Boucher-Bobrovsky?
Lou; I think he stands pat. Not sure that's going to work out in May/June but I didn't think his goaltending last spring was going to hold up either (it didn't at the end but I digress).
To add to Adam's comment, I would have to think Staal is an elephant in the room too. I know he just got back from injury but 5 games, no points and an even +/-? Our PK was great without him, what does he honestly add to the penguins for 4.5 million a year?
Luke; If you put Staal on the market 29 teams would beat a mighty path to your door. Just ask yourself who was the best player on the ice, either team,during the '09 final? Staal. Not a guy you can necessarily measure in goals/assists. Not in January anyway.
Can Tim Thomas maintain his ridiculous level of play throughout the season and playoffs? He's not really a young guy, so there's a possibility he may tire a bit down the stretch.
Frank; Bruins are finally starting to get some wins from Tuukka Rask which is important for taking some of the weight off of Thomas's not so young shoulders. No reason to think his play will tail off unless he has injury issues and he looks to have cleared those up.
Do you think Semin will get traded this season?
Mike; No. Not scoring for a month or so generally sucks the life out of a player's trade value. But seriously, I don't think George McPhee is going to move a guy who has the potential to go berserk offensively at any moment. Plus I don't see teams willing to ante up enough in assets for a player who is wildly streaky and going to be a UFA in July.
Doesn't last year's playoffs show you that so-called "elite" goalies don't guarantee anything? You had Halak, Leighton, Nabakov and Niemi in the "Final 4." Not exactly Vezina winners, them.
Lou; True. Not sure you can count on that every year, though. Plus the teams that played in front of those goalies were well-coached and for the most part deep. That's why the Flyers and Red Wings again look like teams that could go on a long march in the playoffs even though people may question their goaltending. But does anyone believe San Jose could win a Cup playing like they are now and with Niemi in net? Doubt it.
Does Brent Burns have a Norris in his future? After 2 injury riddled seasons he is back, and had been a force and a rising Wild team.
Luke; Not sure he's quite at the Norris level yet but it is nice to see him get back to playing the kind of game that had a lot of folks penciling him in to the Canadian Olympic line-up before Vancouver. The Wild need to have more success as a team before I think Burns enters the Norris debate for real.
Scott, Do you agree or disagree: the Flyers have the deepest "top 9" forwards and deepest "top 6" defensemen in the league?
Michael; When healthy I think that's fair although the top six along the blue line isn't necessarily as important as the top four and that's where Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh make the discussion interesting. But up front I don't think there's much of a debate.
Henrik zeeterberg is on the list for the hart trophy yet he doesn't even make the all star game? why isn't he in the lineup?
papa; My friend and colleague Pierre LeBrun thinks it's because he let it be known to Hockey Ops (the league officials who filled out the rest of the rosters) that he would rather not go. Made their life easier as they had to appease all the teams in one form or another. Certainly he deserved to be there. And the Wings will be happy to avoid the chaos of two years ago when Lidstrom and Datsyuk were 'suspended' for a game for blowing off All-Star when they weren't really hurt.
Scott: The best goalie who will get traded at the deadline will be ... ?
Derrek; It might have already happened with Roloson going to Tampa. Dale Tallon is tinkering with re-signing Tomas Vokoun in Florida although he'll have to take a pretty big pay cut. Not sure who would bite on Vokoun, though, given he has little playoff experience and comes with a big price tag. Barring injury to existing starters not sure there is a market for starting netminder.
Any analysis on sharks? is it a wrong captain? First line does not seem to care at all since all them locked in multi-year, >6 mil contracts. The team survives on second/third line and rookie is a goal leader. what a shame.
leonard; It's one of the great mysteries of the hockey universe. But I think it has a lot to do with the personalities in that room. Good guys, yes, but are there guys who can lead a team through rough patches? Watch guys like Zetterberg and Datsyuk, Crosby, Toews, Keith, Pronger, guys who have that ability to push a team beyond the norm. I don't see anyone in that Sharks room beyond perhaps Dan Boyle with that capability. Not sure how you fix that exactly.
How much of a shame would it be if Crosby returns from concussion only to not be the same player he was before?How much will the NHL regret not taking some sort of action on Steckel then? Also, what are your feelings on the hit? Should Steckel have been suspended regardless of the hit?
Allie; A couple of questions on the Steckel hit on Crosby in the Winter Classic. I don't believe there was intent a la the Tom Kostopoulos hit on Brad Stuart the other night. But that said if the league wants to keep players safe from blows to the head they have to give the appearance that such hits are a bad thing. I thought a fine at least might have been at least an acknowledgement that Steckel had clipped Crosby. And yes, it would be a grand shame if this somehow changes how Crosby plays.
At the beginning of this year, I felt like the Carolina Hurricanes would be a playoff team a couple of years down the road, when their youngster grew up. Are you surprised that Carolina is making a push for the playoffs this year? And what does this year say about Carolina's future?
Chad; I am not at all surprised (even though I didn't pick Carolina to make the playoffs) given how carefully Jim Rutherford constructs his teams. Lots of character in the 'Canes locker room and good leadership from Eric Staal and Cam Ward. The question for the 'Canes is who can they catch? Montreal? Possibily if the goals don't start to come with more frequency. Atlanta needs to find the groove again but could be caught. But there aren't many teams you can count on fading so it's going to be an uphill battle for a young team that won't be familiar with the grind of a late-season charge.
i wonder who will win the norris trophy......
Scott; Cool name. Hard to believe it won't be Nicklas Lidstrom although Dustin Byfuglien is giving him a run for his money.
What does the NHL Have to do to prevent Concussions?
Chris; Not sure you can prevent them but at some point taking a hard line on all hits to the head, open ice or not, will be imperative to at least cutting down on the number of concussions.
Who wins the southeast? Tampa or Washington?
Frank; Got to believe it's the Caps given their strong defensive play. And surely Semin will come back from whatever is ailing him now and pick things up. That said, kudos to the Bolts for making a race of what has been a cakewalk the last couple of years for Washington. The dilemma for the Lightning will be in not over-using Dwayne Roloson before the playoffs. Should be fun and the interesting thing will be that the loser will likely draw the Pens in the first round of the playoffs.
What are your thoughts on the following:Kings with Mitchell: 12-5Without Mitchell: 11-13-1Is Mitchell, not Kovalchuk, the key??
Andrew; Great stat which suggests that Willie Mitchell is a difference-maker. It also suggests that sometimes the risk is greater than the reward and with Mitchell's history of not being able to stay healthy the Kings will never be able to count on him being there when it counts. Agreed that not having Kovalchuk is a blessing but having Mitchell hasn't necessarily solved any of the Kings' problems either.
Do you see the bruins dumping savard at any point to stur up some more offense?
Jon; Don't see it happening. Not sure there's a market for Savard until he starts producing like he did in the past. And when he starts producing like that you won't want to trade him.
Sticking with your pre-season Cup picks, or care to make a "do over"?
Jon; I may be forced to do a substitution if the Blackhawks don't make the playoffs but I will stick right now with Pens over 'Hawks although they wouldn't necessarily rank as the favorites given current level of play/health.
Scott: Do you know of any teams that could use a back-up goalie? Being back in the bush isn't cutting it for me.
Michael; Life isn't very fair is it? The dilemma for Paul Holmgren is that if he tries to bring you back up another team may take you bolster their own goaltending and/or screw the Flyers. So you're not likely to get a call unless Boucher or Bobrovsky gets hurt. But as we've seen from watching your playoff run last spring stranger things have happened.
Jonas Hiller has carried the Ducks and has seen a lot of shots. How long do you think he can hold up at this pace?
Craig; He has been sensational and he's another guy that really deserved a trip to Raleigh for All-Star. But it's a fair point to ask how long he can keep it up. No other goaltender has faced as many shots and he's not playing in front of Pronger/Lidstrom/Keith etc. so lots of work ahead of him. If the Ducks do make the playoffs, though, it won't be hard to pick their MVP.
Is Parise resigning with the Devils? Wouldn't he rather takes his talents elsewhere?
Frey; This is the great dilemma now for president and GM Lou Lamoriello. He has to open up enough cap space to make a decent long-term offer and then he has to hope the chaos in New Jersey hasn't soured Parise on staying with the team. If he won't sign a long-term extension then Lamoriello will have to trade him and start from scratch (plus Kovalchuk). Not a pretty alternative but would you sign a long-term deal with the Devils right now?
Scott: What is the best "#2 line" in the NHL right now? Hate to say it, I'd probably go with Briere-Hartnell-Leino in that other PA city.
Jimmy; Think you might be right. That's what makes the Flyers so impressive, roll any of the top three units out and it can be trouble.
Lupul is at 4.5 mil a year. He is always injured and doesn't put up a lot of points. Do you believe the Ducks should keep him?
Will; One of those guys that doesn't do what he's paid to do often enough but is too expensive to trade unless you're going to take on someone else's contract mistake. You just hope he stays healthy enough to chip in a meaningful goal or two. He did score the overtime winner in Game 7 against Washington a few years back.
Well folks off next week but will return to this space the week after. Thanks, as always, for dropping by.