Hello folks, returned from lovely Raleigh and the All Star extravaganza. Now, where were we?
what is the biggest concern with the flyers come playoff time? are they a legitimate contender?
adam; I think the Flyers are the best team in the NHL right now top to bottom. So, as long as they stay healthy and as long as the goaltending doesn't spring a leak I think they'll go into the playoffs as certainly the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
How much fun is the final stretch of games out West going to be? Pretty much every night from here on out will feature several matchups among teams who are shoulder to shoulder fighting for their playoff lives. Good stuff; playoff-style hockey basically gets underway tonight!
Ryan; You are right on. Think about the final 30 games or so and there's the rush between now and the trade deadline Feb. 28 and then six weeks of hockey after and all of a sudden we're into the post-season. It will be fascinating to see which teams outside the bubble now in the Western Conference can force their way into the top eight and which teams fall out of the bracket.
Why do you love Crosby so much? You know most of your readers can't stand reading you right? Look at the comments below your articles once in a while.
Is that you Ovie?
I just finished reading your "contenders/pretenders" piece with the other hockey writers and I couldn't help but notice that you all thought the Rangers were good enough to make the playoffs, but don't have what it takes to win the cup. It seems as if the Rangers really need a number one center to catapult them from an early playoff exit to a potential deep run. Do you see Glen Sather making a move before the trade deadline that can help them get over the hump? If yes, who do you think they will pick up?
Justin; The lack of depth down the middle is certainly a glaring hole, at least in theory, when it comes to considering a long playoff run. That said not sure just where that impact center is going to come from. Brad Richards will almost certainly stay in Dallas and even then I think Sather would be crazy to ante up some of the great young assets he's finally managed to collect in New York for a rental player.
Hi Scott - What moves, if any, do you see the Bruins making before the deadline? If they do shut down Savard, should they use his salary slot for a puck moving defenseman (kaberle?) or another forward? Thanks
John; I think the next two weeks will tell the story about what the Bruins' plans are for Savard or rather which path his health puts the Bruins on. Regardless I wouldn't be surprised to see the Bruins take another run at Tomas Kaberle. I think he'd be a nice fit with the personnel already in place. The question is whether he wants to waive his no move clause. Still a pretty touchy subject in Toronto given Brian Burke's stand on not asking players to waive those clauses.
Who do you think will be the best team to miss the playoffs?
Shawn; Great question. There will be some good ones especially in the Western Conference. In no particular order I don't see the Wild, Carolina or the Anaheim Ducks making it even though the Ducks have been playing terrific hockey even though Ryan Getzlaf has been hurt.
Who's the best secondline center available? Think Mike Fisher would be a good fit in Washington?
Jeff; Study hard. I would think Fisher is likely in that group. Interesting discussion about Fisher's future at the All-Star Game and some suggested Nashville would be a good destination because of his familial ties now that he's married to Carrie Underwood. But it actually makes sense given how good Fisher is on both sides of the puck. Now, given the lack of centers that appear to be available by the deadline the Predators may not want to get into a bidding war and the Caps are in a position where they need to win now and could offer more. Would he fit in there? Couldn't hurt.
WOW BURNSIE! Vancouver a "pretender"?! Gutsy statement!
Ian; Guess I watched too many of those Vancouver/Chicago playoff games the last two springs. That and I know LeBrun will be handling the west so I won't have to eat too much crow until the final if the Canucks do go on a roll.
I was in full agreement with your assessment of the Crawford hiring before last season and thought he did a terrible job last season... but it's hard to argue with these results. He's gotta get serious consideration for the Jack Adams if this holds up, right?
Chester; No question. I think John Tortorella will get a serious look if the Rangers make the playoffs given the injuries and lack of depth down the middle but the Stars' turnaround especially when you look at the production from Loui Eriksson, Jamie Benn and James Neal, has been impressive and kudos to Crawford for getting that team on track.
Being a Wings fan I'm really excited about the potential this team has when we finally get healthy. We have yet to play at our full potential, which is usually what happens in hockeytown until March. With that said, I think all the analysts are giving too much credit to Chicago. They are clearly not the team they were last year and it will be a fight for them to make the playoffs. Your thoughts on both. Thanks.
fan; No doubt the Wings' health will be the story of the rest of the season for them. Should get D. Cleary and P. Datsyuk back this week and Stuart before the end of the month if my math is right. That said I wonder about the goaltending situation with Jimmy Howard having to play so much barring getting a veteran back-up. As for Chicago I think a lot of people are reserving judgment on the 'Hawks. I think they'll be tougher to beat than people think come playoff time and I don't worry they'll miss.
The kings have a hellish 10 game roadie (damn Grammy's!!), what is a realitisic goal for their record in those games? am I pessimistic to be happy if they go 5-5 or 6-5??
Dustin; The Kings are one of the most confounding teams in the league. Should have it all; great young talent on the blue line, grit and Stanley Cup experience up front, good young goaltending and yet they seem to have taken a step back especially when it comes to consistency from a year ago. That road trip may be a deal-breaker for the Kings. If they only go 5-5 they could end up in 12th or 13th place in the conference and it could cost them a playoff berth.
Will Nashville be able to pay Weber more than 6 or 6.5 million longterm considering their tight budget in the past? And what do you think Weber will ask for? I'm a Rangers fan thinking with the youngest D in the league and a few strong D prospects we could maybe trade for his rights this summer...
Brian; This is going to be a great emerging story in the coming weeks and months as the Predators try and lock up Weber long-term. He will be restricted this year and with the CBA set to expire at the end of the '12 season teams will be cautious about signing players to deals that extend beyond the end of the current CBA. Still, Weber would certainly draw an offer sheet if the Preds can't lock him up. What's his value? Has to be as great as the top defensemen in the league and they're at cap hits in the $7 to $8 million range. How much of a hometown discount will Weber get? And how much depends on whether the Preds get on a roll this spring? One and done again and that becomes less and less attractive I am guessing.
Do you see the Thrashers making any moves before the trade deadline?
Josh; Maybe some tinkering. Rumors abound that Kris Versteeg may be available. Who gets him Rick Dudley in Atlanta or Dale Tallon in Florida?
Yes or no will zach parise be a devil next season and what team do you think will make a play for him ?
Gerard; Going to fudge this one; maybe. But I find it hard to believe Parise will stay in Jersey any longer than necessary. If he refuses to sign a long-term extension thus setting up the possibility he could become an unrestricted free agent at the end of next year does Lou Lamoriello try and trade him in the interim? Would the Rangers love him? Yes. Or Minnesota, home state boy that he is, of course. And the Wild need a marquee player especially if they miss the playoffs again this year. The Kings have money and the desire to bring in a stud to rock L.A. No shortage of suitors for sure.
I keep hearing the Sharks need a top 4 D-man, who is out there that might be available?
mike; There are a couple that could be on the move including Chris Phillips (not sure he qualifies as top four on the Sharks) from Ottawa or the aforementioned Tomas Kaberle, maybe Joni Pitkanen in Carolina although tough call for GM Jim Rutherford if the 'Canes are in the hunt in the east.
What do you make of the Flames' recent surge as it relates to potential trades? Are the waivers of Kotalik and Conroy going to lead to a trade, or just call-ups form Abbotsford?
EJN: Who knew that all the Flames needed to do was get rid of their GM? But they do look like a different team. Can they keep it up? I would think that interim GM Jay Feaster isn't going to be adding any more salary in the form of veteran rentals not with the mess Darryl Sutter left him both in terms of bad contracts and a lack of depth on the farm. I am guessing if the Flames do make it it'll be the boys already in house that get the job done.
Scott, do you see Terry Pegula making any changes in the Sabres organization before (or at) the deadline?
Alex; I doubt it although it will be fascinating to see how he reacts if the Sabres don't make the playoffs - I don't see them in the top eight - once the season is over. Are the team's problems related to not being able to keep quality people in which case Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff get a chance with more assets. Or does Pegula want his own people to start fresh next season? Tough call.
Do the Avs pick up another goalie down the stretch? Who is out there they might want? JSG?
Matt; Well, I spent some time in Denver a couple of weeks ago and there's lots to like about that team. Injuries have been staggering; David Jones out now. But when you are 30th in the league in goals allowed per game you have to ask if the right guy is between the pipes. And as great as Craig Anderson was a year ago he isn't the same goalie. Injuries have been a factor but if the Avs are serious about the post-season I would think they'd have to look at Tomas Vokoun (he has a no-move clause). Unless the goaltending is upgraded I don't see how the Avs make it.
How surprising is it that the Coyotes are 10th in the league in goals for? And how surprising is it that their "D" has been suspect?
Jeff; The goals-for is surprising although Ray Whitney starting to get rolling helps that. Not all that surprised by the goals against. Bryzgalov was out of his mind last year and the loss of Zbynek Michalek is not to be overstated. That said Dave Tippett's boys always seem to find a way. Keith Yandle's breakout year has been a key at least offensively.
We want Parise or Iginla.
Bruins; Jay Feaster has been pretty adamant that Iginla isn't going anywhere. Will be shocked if he's moved. Parise we have discussed. But he's the kind of guy that, especially if there's a sense that Savard's career may be cut short, that might be worth looking at an offer sheet from the Bruins' perspective.
Why isn't anyone talking about St. Louis for the the Hart? I love Stammer and I think that Crosby deserves consideration as usual, but take St. Louis from the lineup and you'll see a huge impact. Crosby has been out an extended time and the Penguins haven't faltered (even with Malkin out as well). What gives? Is the NHL loathe to give the honors to a southeast player not named Ovechkin?
Jesse; I think if you read our weekly Hart Trophy Tracker you'll find that St. Louis gets lots of love. I think the issue will be a split in the vote if Crosby's injury slows him and makes the scoring race a real race. There is no underestimating the value of St. Louis to that team on the ice and in the dressing room. But Stamkos's ability to produce goals will make it a real difficult decision for Hart Trophy voters (the hockey writers). Not sure it has anything to do with a Southeast Division bias, though.
How good are the Wings? Better than my Canucks?
Ken; How good a series would that be? I still take a healthy Red Wing team.
I was curious what your thoughts were on Lubomir Visnovsky being left off of the all star game when Mike Green of all people was selected. Why was he snubbed?
Nick; The All-Star roster selection is always filled with curiosities and agree that Visnovsky is having a terrific season for a team that wasn't expected to be in the playoff hunt let alone where they are. Did he deserve to be there ahead of Mike Green? I think you can make a case for that and frankly that he should have been there ahead of three or four other defensemen. The bottom line is that the ASG isn't about merit necessarily and never will be it's about ticking off as few teams as possible.
Do you see the Hurricanes trading Erik Cole at the deadline? Who could they get for him?
Daniel; Some rumors the Flyers (thanks to head coach Peter Laviolette) were interested but not sure what he could command. He has played better and is part of a well-balanced 'Canes offense but the days of teams offering up good young prospects or a first or second round pick for a rental especially one with Cole's health history are long gone.
Do you think the Blue jackets have a chance coming out of the all star break?
max; No. I think that ship has sailed - again. Goaltending too inconsistent, defense too slow and still no number one center. Too many teams that are better that I expect will play better for the Blue Jackets to sneak into the top eight.
Ever heard of Zuccarello? What do you think of the norwegian hobbit?
Ralph; And all those years we thought Glen Sather was using those scouting reports as a pillow.
Scott, What is the latest Forsberg can sign? do you think he will?
steve; Players must be signed with an NHL club before the trade deadline to be eligible for playoff action. I am guessing he'll give it a shot in the next couple of weeks. Unless his foot starts acting up he'll never know where he's at until he plays in an NHL game. I will be shocked if we don't see him in an Avs jersey in the next few weeks.
More of a rant than anything... Reading the question about Visnovsky above, yes I agree you could make a case for him being there. But this trendy thing for people to keep singling out Mike Green? I assume it'll never run it's course with some people, but you're saying a 2-time Norris Trophy runner up hasn't earned the chance to represent his team in the ASG? Or was he there just because the league didn't want to upset Caps fans?
Matt; I don't think it's about not wanting to upset Caps fans but about spreading the love around as much as possible. Corey Perry and Jonas Hiller are on the big squad so I think Visnovsky becomes a casualty of that. And certainly Mike Green has the pedigree of an All-Star regardless of what you think of his game this season (the Caps by the way are poised for one of their best defensive seasons ever) and so on. We all carp - I know I did - when we see the rosters but until they decide to simply fill the rosters with the top players at that point in the season the heck with past performance etc. then this debate will always exist. Look, now I'm ranting.
Okay folks, thanks for coming out, drop by next week.