Hello all, thanks for joining us today, a bit of a wacky week with trade deadline etc. So, where were we?
Is the Flyers recent trouble a lack of motivation or something more serious?
John; I think it's probably a function of the dog days of the schedule setting in. They've pretty much locked up top spot in the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh is without Crosby et al so little pressure within the Atlantic. Reminds me a bit of how the Caps were last year. Little to challenge them until the playoffs. I'm sure it's driving Peter Laviolette a little crazy. And all anyone has to do is watch tape of the Caps' first-round series last year or better yet for the Flyers, their series against New Jersey, to realize the old cliche that there is no on/off switch come playoff time is entirely true.
In an era where head injuries are so prevalent and CTE is dominating the sports news about ex-athletes, was the suspension to Trevor Gillies too short? Does this suspension for a repeat offender of targetting opponents' heads show that the NHL is only putting up a facade of eliminating head contact rather than actually doing anything to enforce it?
Chris; It's an excellent question and I was unpleasantly surprised to see Gillies get only 10 games. He's an easy target given that he is a) a thug and, b) a repeat offender. What does the NHL lose by suspending him for the remainder of the regular season? Nothing. What doe the Isles lose? Nothing except that spot on the roster. Again the NHL mystifies with what, if any, message it hopes to send to the players in the league and the fans who buy tickets.
Scott, in the aftermath of the Pens-Isles fiasco I issued a statement saying the league did not punish the Islanders enough to deter future acts. Without naming names, many feel I insinuated that Martin and/or Gillies should have been suspended for the season. And you basically told me to shut the H' up. Well Gillies came back last night and acquitted himself well in his return. 2 minutes played. One headshot. Five minute major. Game misconduct. I rest my case.
Mario; Check out my blog from yesterday. How's Marc Savard, doing, by the way? Oh. Still out. Guess you're just part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Dallas, If they make it? Contenders? Pretenders?
Michael; I see that Brad Richards has had at least a slight setback in his attempts to return from concussion. If he's back and healthy the Stars have enough tools to give anyone in the west a tough time. Lots will depend on Richards, of course, and Kari Lehtonen who has never won an NHL playoff game. Honestly, I don't like their chances. But I didn't like the Habs' chances a year ago either.
Scott, Arnott has been the key in both Caps wins since coming here. Is he what the Caps needed to make a big Cup run? Also, Wideman looks like he is fitting in great. What do you think?
Vita; While acknowledging a nice initial buzz from Arnott's arrival I will reserve judgment until the Caps win a round. My reluctance to jump all over the Caps' bandwagon after the Arnott acquisition was his recent playoff history which is spotty at best. As a supposed leader in Nashville Arnott didn't get the job done. He was hurt, to be sure, and that's a mitigating factor, but that Cup run in New Jersey in 2000 was a long time ago.
Is Leafs goalie James Reimer a legit Calder Trophy candidate?
Jimmy; No. Too small a sample especially with about 10 first-year players who have made season-long contributions to their teams. He'll have to settle for 'savior of the franchise' honors right now.
Scott, should there be standard suspensions for certain types of hits? For example, a head shot would be 10 games the first time, 25 the 2nd, and a year for a 3rd? There really should be no place for a guy like Gillies in the league, especially when they add nothing to the scoresheet besides penalty minutes.
Tom; I will be the first to admit that assessing supplemental discipline is a tough task given that incidents are rarley cookie-cutter similar. There are almost always extenuating circumstances. That said, I think players would welcome some sort of standard for discpline; head shot starts at five games and goes up depending on the severity etc. I'm just not sure there's an appetite for that kind of change among GMs or hockey ops folks. It would certainly make things a lot simpler if there was such a scale of suspensions that could be referred to.
Hey there Mr. Burnside. Over the past few months there seems to be a lot of confusion on how you feel about the NJ Devils. Do you hate them as much as every comment you drop about them eludes or are you just not apt at clearly stating how you feel? Please let me know, professionally, how you feel about the NJ Devils entire season and there abilities leading into next season. Thanks!
Mike; Thanks for the question. I think it's convenient for fans to want to slot people into a 'pro' or 'con' camp. The fact is it's a lot more complex than that. Do I have some sort of long-standing beef with the franchise? Did I fall out of the crib onto a Devils' logo? No. Do I take issue with things that I think may be misguided or counterproductive? Sure. As I do with every other team. Didn't like the handling of the Kovalchuk signing. Still don't. Have the Devils played their brains out the past two months? Sure have. If they make the playoffs will we laud them for one of the miracle comebacks of all time? For sure. Will we pick them to lose in the first round? Of course.
How much trouble are the Rangers in?
Todd; Lots. But the good thing for them is that they play in the Eastern Conference. Teams who play like the Rangers have played the last month or six weeks get buried in a hurry in the west (see, Blues, St. Louis, Avalanche, Colorado). But it is troubling to see the team unable to generate offense without Marian Gaborik in the line-up. It's almost as though all that hard work through the first three-quarters of the season has worn them to the nub and they have nothing left. Of course they remain the masters of their own destiny. Turn it around and they're in and as we know from watching the Flyers a year ago, a foot in the door is all it takes sometimes.
Philly has pretty much locked up the Eastern Conference?...the Bruins are only 3 points behind them FYI
Josh; Good point. Must have been looking at last week's standings. Flyers do have a game in hand but your point is well-taken.
So because he's a goon we should treat him differently from the stars? What kind of message is that? If Chris Pronger throws an elbow and knocks someone out, he gets 2 games, but Gillies should get 10?
Matt; No. Because Gillies has shown disregard for opposing players he should get more than 10 games. Just as, in theory, Pronger should get a longer suspension for a dangerous play because he is a repeat offender compared to someone like, say, Nicklas Lidstrom or Kimmo Timonen.
Was last night's Carolina-Buffalo game as close to playoff hockey as we'll see in March?
Sandy; That was an outstanding game. But there were a couple that were similar in intensity like Boston's win over Tampa. It's what makes this final month or so of the regular season so compelling.
Cam Ward hasn't had a game off since early January. Do you think it is important for Maurice to get him some rest in the next week, either for a stronger stretch run or the playoffs? He has been playing quite well lately, but I'd hate to see him too tired later when a couple days off could have made all the difference.
Richard; No, I expect Paul Maurice to ride Cam Ward like a rented mule. He can rest in June. And you're right, Ward is crucial to the 'Canes' playoff chances. Got to get there first and I'm sure that's what Maurice is thinking.
Are the Cunucks recent struggle in the offensive department something to worry about or are they still one of the favorite to win the cup?
Julain; I think it's similar to what the Flyers are going through. Everyone's pumping their tires, talking about how this is a Cup-ready team etc. etc. I just think it's a natural reaction to a long season. If this was the fourth week of March or first week of April I would be more concerned. I expect Alain Vigneault will have them cresting by then, though.
whos comes out on top of the SE in the end? Wash or TB
Matt; I think the Caps are flying a bit under the radar now. Goal scoring is down, power play is up and down. But they are much more difficult to play against than a year ago and I am guessing they squeak past the Bolts for the Southeast crown. Big game Monday between these two. And given the teams in the middle of the standings, Pittsburgh, Montreal, winning the division should be a big step to getting to the second round.
Do you think the Sabres will make the playoffs? If so, is a 7th seed out of the realm of possibility?
Phil; I really liked the Brad Boyes acquisition. And they are in a good position given their games in hand (they have three in hand on the Rangers and are just two points back). Still don't know about the leadership in that room. Could they shock a Boston or Tampa or Washington out of the 7th seed? Or Philly from the 8th seed (assuming they stay on top)? I don't like their chances even with Ryan Miller.
Where do you rate the Blackhawks first line of Toews, Sharp, and Kane? How far do they go in the playoffs?
Shawn; That trio is on fire. Are they as good as a Stamkos/St. Louis/Downie trio? Right now they are. As for the playoffs, I liked them at the start of the year to go back to the final and I'm okay with that prediction still. I am guessing no one, least of all Vancouver, is excited at the prospect of a first-round match-up with the 'Hawks.
The Coyotes will call _______ home for the 2011/12 season.
JC; Glendale. But they sure aren't making it easy on anyone are they?Now, ask me about the Atlanta Thrashers.
The Atlanta Thrashers will call ________ home for the 2011/12 season.
Eric; Winnipeg, Manitoba.
How was Gillies hit any more dangerous than the one delivered by Clutterbuck a second before? Because Gillies has been labled a "goon"?
Lane; Agreed. Didn't like the Clutterbuck hit at all. But that doesn't diminish the fact that Gillies shouldn't have been on the ice to begin with given the NHL's failure to properly suspend him for the Tangradi hit versus Pittsburgh. And it doesn't diminish the fact that Gillies learned nothing from that suspension.
Do you think my Red Wings can catch the Cunucks and win the Western Conference?
Mike; Don't think so. I think both teams are going through a little sluggish period now and I expect both will be better by the end of the month. But I still think Vancouver ends up with the top seed in the conference. Better question may be whether Wings can hold off San Jose for the second seed. Not sure they can.
Scott, so you still think Glendale is going to get this deal done?
Tim; I do. Hopefully, though, one way or another we know when we chat next week. Of course I thought it would be over and done by Valentine's Day.
What are the Ducks options if Hiller can't even return to play for next season?
Sean; It's not a great scenario for the Ducks and it's a shame for both Hiller, who was having a Vezina-worthy season, and the Ducks who had defied a lot of skeptics with their play. Not many top free agent goaltenders on the market. Tomas Vokoun but he may be out of the Ducks' price range. It will be interesting to see what the Isles do with Evgeni Nabokov. Marty Turco? Not really an option as a starter. A return of J.S. Giguere? Right now Craig Anderson's play in Ottawa makes him pretty attractive. But here's hoping Hiller gets better.
will the sharks win the cup because everyone has already written them off as playoff chockers, or is it good that they are flying under the radar for a change
Geoff; Interesting dynamic for the Sharks this year. As you mentioned, they've gone from Stanley Cup darlings to afterthoughts in large part because they've never shown the killer instinct that champions have. Do they have it now? Need to see it before I will buy it. Now, talk to my pal Mr. LeBrun and he's got the Sharks as the Cup winners again this year. Takes all kinds, no?
Best game to watch this weekend?
Kaitee; Tough. Tough. Like Vancouver/L.A., Tampa/Montreal and Dallas/San Jose. Sounds like a full day's worth of playoff-like hockey.
Do you think my Flames can make the playoffs? If we face Vancouver or Detroit in the first round, do you think we have a chance to come out on top?
Jerry; Yes, I think the Flames will be in the top eight. And I think there's a good chance of knocking off either Detroit or Vancouver. If it's Detroit Kiprusoff could/should give an edge over Jimmy Howard as much as I like Howard's play. Against Vancouver I think the Flames will have to take advantage of the tremendous pressure the Canucks will be under to start. Win Game 1 in Vancouver and create some doubt and anything can happen.
Burnsie.... Even with the surprising +/- does Lidstrom still win his 7th Norris?
Mike; I will be shocked if Lidstrom isn't the man standing at the podium in Vegas in June. With Byfuglien falling off and the Kris Letang's point totals dropping a bit with all the Pens' injuries I think it will be Lidstrom's almost by default. For my money the guy that needs to be really examined is Keith Yandle. If the 'Yotes stay in the thick of the playoff race I expect he'll be on the final ballot if not the man to knock off Lidstrom.
Scott, If you are the Canucks, who do you NOT want to see in the first round?
Tim; I think Vancouver would want to avoid Chicago and Calgary to open the tournament. I think anyone else; Nashville, Minnesota, Dallas, even Los Angeles, they have a better shot.
If Atlanta is in Winnipeg, are we talking any kind of Conference/Division realignment? Or are we 10 steps away from that
Jack; I am guessing that if Atlanta goes north and west then Detroit will lobby to join the Eastern Conference. They have been on record for a long time that they'd like to have away games on in prime time and play teams that are geographically around the corner like Toronto and Buffalo. Might happen.
Which top team is most likely to pull a "Washington" this year and lose early in the playoffs after having a great regular season?
Jeff; Well we've talked about Vancouver and the pressure they are under. Plus, the teams that will end up in the 6,7,8 hole in the Western Conference can hardly be considered patsies. I wonder about Boston, frankly, even though they are on fire now (and within shouting distance of first overall). Do they have the leadership? Guess we'll find out.
How do you feel about Toews's chance at league MVP? Can he overtake Stamkos?
Tim; Interesting question. With Crosby out and the danger of the Sedins (and Ryan Kesler) splitting the vote in Vancouver there's a chance if he keeps up his torrid pace. It's anyone's trophy to win right now. Tim Thomas is gaining steam, too, given the level of play he has turned in right from the start of the season.
What happened to the avs this year? i know we have a lot young guys, but it just seemed that the lines didnt jell together and the team was lacking leadership?
Caleb; Just like it seemed a perfect storm when the Avs rode Craig Anderson to the playoffs a year ago it was the anti-perfect storm this year. Anderson was only ordinary. Too many injuries to key people. Young players maybe assuming it was simply going to happen again as opposed to working that much harder. Too bad for a team that had/has so much going for it.
Doesn't Columbus have more of a case to move to the East. Namely they will do better there while Detroit would dominate.
Harv; I'm sure Columbus would love to stay east given the reduction in travel costs etc. Not sure the NHL will consider how a team will fare in the standings. Indeed, I'm sure the rest of the Eastern Conference would be happy to welcome Columbus instead of the Red Wings.
Okay all, time to book. Thanks as always for taking the time to drop by. See you next week.