Hello all, three weeks from now we're talking the final regular season weekend. Sweet. Now, where were we?
Hi Scott- Big Canadiens fan from New Jersey. What place do you think Montreal will finish? Also who do you think is there best matchup for the first round. You have to be impressed how this team has played considering how many key injuries they've had all year. Coaching staff deserves alot of credit. Carey Price for MVP!!!!!!
Paul; Funny Pierre LeBrun and I did a podcast this afternoon and that very topic came up. I think Price may work his way onto the Hart Trophy ballot but to me the more interesting issue is whether he edges Tim Thomas for the Vezina. Everyone has pre-awarded the Vezina to Thomas since about Game 10 and he's been terrific. But with all the Habs' injuries, especially along the blue line, hard to argue with his pedigree for both big trophies. As for first-round match-up, are you kidding me? It's going to be Habs/Bruins. Has to be.
Scott, Any chance one of the kings walk with an award? Kopitar, Quick, Doughty or even coach Murray? Thanks.
Carlos; Kopitar has been great the last six weeks or so but I am wondering if Terry Murray may shoulder his way onto the Jack Adams ballot. Lots of worthy candidates to be sure but if he can position the Kings for a second-straight playoff appearance especially if they are in position to have home-ice for the first round he may get a nod for the hardware. He might have the best chance of any King for post-season recognition.
since were in March Madness mode, whos your final 4 NHL style come May?
James; Great question. Based on current level of play and straight gut and assuming for the moment no Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh; Washington/Philly, Chicago/Detroit.
Hi Scott-Is Joe Sacco out as coach of the Avs? I've never seen a team fall apart like this, almost zero points for a quarter of a season. Will the first overall pick (hopefully) and a max deal RFA offer to Shea Webber solve their problems? And who'll be the best goalie available next year?
D-Diddy; It is shocking to see how far and how fast the Avs have fallen. But ownership insists Greg Sherman (GM) and Sacco will return. Not much in the way of obvious number-one goaltending help available outside Ilya Bryzgalov and I just don't see that as being a fit. Maybe Tomas Vokoun. Not a lot of obvious choices for what is a crucial problem for the Avs. Still, lots of great young parts and maybe this is the big step back before a big step forward. My eye will be on Erik Johnson next year; make or break for a guy I like and who has all the tools to be an impact player. Now it's time to use them.
is Sid comming back, if so, when do u see him back?
Joe; If I knew the answer to that I'd run right out and buy a Power Ball ticket. But it's interesting his skating sessions this week but so much is unknown about how every individual reacts to increased activity after a concussion. And no way the Pens rush him back regardless of whether it's playoff time or not. My guess based on nothing but gut; He's back for the first round.
Listened to your Hart talk on first half of podcast. To follow up who do you think Norris will go to. I think Ducks Lubomir Visnovsky should be at the top of the list. Not flashy, just solid and has big scoring effort this year.
Rick; Glad you tuned in to our ramblings. And I know Pierre wrote on the Visnovsky issue last week. Very under the radar and with all due respect to Nicklas Lidstrom I think level of play makes this one wide open. Honestly, I think when push comes to vote, Lidstrom wins because he's Nick Lidstrom and that Visnovsky's profile doesn't get him enough votes. Not saying he's not worthy and right now he's on my final ballot, just don't think he's got the street cred to get to the top of the heap.
Scott, Do you think the Caps will resign either Knuble or Arnott?
Vita; Tough call. My guess is that Knuble is more likely to return given his role in the room. But all that is predicated on a long playoff run. But I know the Caps have been very happy with the early returns on Jason Arnott even though he's banged up now. Playoffs will have a lot to say about all of these matters.
Is DAN BYLSMA the clear front runner for Coach of the Year, given what he has been able to accomplish with a depleted lineup seemingly every night?
Ian; Moreso this year than ever I think there are probably 10 guys you can make a case for including Dan Bylsma whom I've touted in recent weeks. What about Bruce Boudreau in Washington? Dave Tippett again? Marc Crawford in Dallas? Barry Trotz if he can coax the Preds back in? And of course Jacques Lemaire in Jersey if the miracle Devils get in (not going to happen, but what if?)?
So, you like Washington and Philly? What flaws do you see with Montreal and Boston? Don't you think the Bruins physical style of play and Price for Montreal will serve them well for a long run?
Benoit; Fair question. I love the idea of a Montreal/Boston match-up. Drama? Wow. My question about the Bruins is leadership and character? Do they have enough to get over the hump when they face adversity? Given their collapse against the Flyers last year I want to see it to believe it. Montreal is battle-tested but of course banged-up beyond belief. Doesn't seem to matter, though, with kids like Desharnais, et al stepping right in. Just don't like either team for the long haul. Just like I didn't like the Habs for even the short haul last year.
A concern of fans of the teams in the top 8 right now have is if Crosby comes back, the refs may be calling any little hit on him, even clean checks. Do you think that will happen? No player should be bigger than the NHL or get special treatment.
Bella; I am sure everyone will be watching all elements of Crosby's game when/if he returns including how officials call the game around him. No doubt there will be lots of critics either way.
Your guess is he is back for the 1st round, but just because he is back doesn't mean he'll be 100%. Sure he's a special and unique player, but rarely players return from injury up to speed. Don't you think it will take him perhaps that entire series to get up to speed? And do you think his game will change at all, particularly if he comes back during the hard hitting and intense playoffs?
Angela; Good points all. And remember we're just blue-skying here. Talked to Marc Crawford the Stars coach today and he was mentioning that Brad Richards, recently returned from a concussion, isn't at full speed yet and that he's had to limit his ice time etc. The same would no doubt hold true for Crosby. The issue of whether he changes his game is a big picture question and all players who suffer these injuries will deal with the doubt or fear of being reinjured in different ways that may or may not reflect changes in how they play the game. In general, it would be a great loss if Crosby's game is diminished in any way by this injury. But only time will tell, no?
Scott, as a Blues fan, is there any reason for optimism or will the continued mediocrity continue? Frusterating seeing young talent not producing big results.
Nick; I like the Blues. And I like the boldness of the Johnson move. GM Doug Armstrong was dealing from a position of strength along the blue line with the maturation of Alex Pietrangelo and added youth and skill both up front and on the blue line with Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk. Lots of good moving pieces there. Disappointing year and injuries played a large role but it can't be a crutch. I think they're a playoff team next year.
Out of the bottom seeds contending, who do you think philly should worry most about playing?
Ross; New York Rangers just because it's the Rangers and the history, both recent and past, that exists between these teams. That would be a dandy.
True or False? If Dominik Hasek had been born in Canada he would be considered the greatest goalie ever?
Nathan; Not buying it. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, no question. And I think he's on pretty much everyone's top five list. Hard to put him ahead of Roy and Brodeur, though, don't you think, regardless of what his passport says.
what are the chances jumbo joe get the selkie this year..he lead the league in take aways and datsuk has been hurt.where da love for jumbo. Thanks
Geoff; I can honestly say I've never heard Big Joe's name come up on any Selke conversation I've had. Doesn't mean he's not deserving just think guys like Ryan Kesler and Mike Richards and Patrice Bergeron are going to be ahead of him on the list.
Someone that seems to have fallen off the Jack Adams radar for the past month or so: John Tortorella. Don't forget, the Rangers weren't supposed to be a playoff team this year and that was BEFORE all the injuries.
Rene; Good point. I know both Pierre and I were touting Tortorella in the Jack Adams mix a month or so ago. They'd better put a few more Ws under their belt before we go back there again, though.
What do you think about the Neal for Goligoski trade now that a few weeks have passed? Everyone was saying what a steal it was for the Pens, but GoGo has been playing great for the Stars and Neal has been a non-factor for the Pens. Niskanen has arguably been the better of the two players that the Pens received. Your thoughts?
Mike; I was among those who felt Ray Shero got a bargain as he had a glut of defensemen which was true. And it's true that Neal hasn't produced the offense expected while Niskanen has been probably a better fit than people expected. But Goligoski has been a real nice fit for Dallas. He has helped fill in a great space on the blue line especially on the power play and the Stars are on a nice run that I think will move them into the post-season when it looked at the time of the trade they were done like dinner. Let's revisit this one at the end of the first round, though, as Neal will start to come around I think.
is Madano HOF?
Fred; Yes, I think his position as a seminal American-born player gets him into the Hall.
whatd you think of emery the other night? and do the ducks have enough to make the playoffs?
Jason; Great story. And a great night for Emery whose career looked like it was done. Let's see how he does against the Kings in a huge game tomorrow. Bottom line between Emery and Ellis they've got to deliver the goods but I like the vibe around the Ducks.
Do you really see the Blackhawks in the conference final, after the inconsistency they've shown all season? The team came up empty in a huge game last night, and look terribly disorganized at times.
Ron; Agreed, that was one ugly display last night. But look up and down the west outside of Vancouver and you can say the same thing in any given week. So, I will stick with Jonathan Toews and his drive to get the 'Hawks back to the promised land.
Scott, You darn well know that you can't really or anyone can really comment on the neal trade being a "bad" deal yet. Neal was brought in to play with either sid or geno (sid primarily if the shoe fits). Without sid there, what do you guys expect?
Matt; Fair point.
do you think corey clouston keeps his job in ottawa after this season?
Joe; I would say there is virtually no chance he returns.
Scott: Do you attribute the Flyers poor play of late (really since All Star break) to "complacency" or is there maybe something more going on?
Mikael; Weird stuff going on there, that's for sure. Lots of players' meetings and calls for everyone to be better. Goaltending has fallen off and I wonder if that has sent a ripple of concern through the locker room. And the loss of Pronger won't help down the stretch. Still, maybe a little uncertainty will help get them to a playoff mindset. No doubt, everyone penciling them in as Eastern Conference regular season champs by January might have taken the edge of the juices. On the panic meter right now I would say it's 6.5.
Tampa has been working me to the bone. Will I have anything left for the playoffs?
Rolie; You act like you're 41 or something. Oh. You are. My sense, though, is that you like the workload and thrive on it. And I think Guy Boucher wants this team humming come playoff time and there's also the possibility of winning a division and/or home ice in the first round by getting to the 4th seed. Buck up man, you can rest when it's over.
why can't the devils score?
Dan; I will provide a simple answer to a complex problem. I think it's a combination of a lack of personnnel (no Langenbrunner, Arnott, Parise from their starting roster) and no blue chip puck-movers from the back end. Plus you have a coach in Jacques Lemaire who has never been letting the shackles off offensively. That said, it's worked out pretty well the last two months, no?
I'm a big Leafs fan; do you think they'll be an elite team in the near future?
Stephen; Define future? Let's put it this way, no, don't think they're even close.
Do you feel Lidstrom will retire after this year if Detroit makes it far into the playoffs?
Erich; His continued play at such a high level suggests he'll give it one more go unless the Wings flame out and he gets disgusted. He has to come back, who will hand over the Norris next year?
Look at the Western Conference playoff race. Currently its 4 divisonal matchups. That could mean some real nasty, entertaining hockey!!
Joe; Love it. Of course by Sunday morning it could be four different match-ups. Love that, too.
Does Buffalo make the playoffs?
Brian; Yes. Just don't see enough consistency from the bubble teams - Carolina, Atlanta, Toronto, New Jersey (more too little too late from the Devils) - to jump up. In fact I will be surprised if Buffalo doesn't finish in the 7th hole. That said, let's see how the up and down Sabres fare against a desperate Atlanta team tomorrow.
Scott, is Avery's career in NY over?
Eric; Seems like a long time ago that he was the 'it' guy and Dallas blew their brains out signing him to that long-term deal (thanks Brett Hull for that one). Let's see what happens come playoff time. That's the time of the year that Avery and his talents should shine.
any reason you think kings were so horrible vs blues last night? Is it mainly because back from road trip?
Mark; Weird, eh? Just a function of parity (what a cliche, I know). But seriously, look at the teams Ottawa has knocked off in recent weeks. Edmonton, for awhile, was playing giant killer. Kings have had a pretty good stretch so a stinker is understandable. In the West, though, that can't become three or four in a row or you're cooked.
Who do you think will win the Vezina, Thomas or Price?
Lyle; I don't vote (it's a broadcasters' award) but right now I would give the slight edge to Price. But it's tight. Really tight. And just for fun, what about Pekka Rinne? Check out his numbers and his value to that team? All three are full value regardless of whose name actually gets drawn.
even if NJ makes the playoffs, which would be an incredible feat in itself, don't you think coach of the year award is between bylsma & lemaire ?
Lee; No. For me - and this one isn't the writers' award either - too many other deserving guys to give it to a guy whose team doesn't make the playoffs regardless of the circumstances. That's just me, though. If the Devils are in, start engraving now, though. That's L-E...
Right now the Wings are slated to play the Hawks in the first round. Seems like that may be the series of the playoffs. Who do you see surviving that?
Zack; I know this match-up makes Pierre LeBrun salivate. Makes the local tourst bureaus salivate, too, knowing the boost to the economies his appearance in the two cities represents. But I digress. Again. Trying to be consistent so will go with the 'Hawks but so much will depend on the Wings' health; where are Brian Rafalski and Pavel Datsyuk at? What about support for Jimmy Howard? Lots of questions around Chicago's goaltending, too, although I think Corey Crawford will be fine in spite of his egg delivered last night versus Dallas.
Scott, do you still think Vancouver is the favorite to win the cup ?
Dunga; Definitely. Now, how does a team respond to that kind of pressure? That's what I'm interested in finding out. How do they respond to a first-round match-up against say Calgary? Or their arch-nemesis Chicago? Or a Kings team that gave them fits last year in the first round? Yes, by far the best team in the NHL to this point. Now what?
Will all the issues surrounding Atlanta and Phoenix ownerships, will Seattle ever get an NHL franchise? The NW is a great locale for hockey housing 6 WHL teams in or around the state of Washington (including Portland and Vancouver).
Jeremy; Not sure Seattle is anywhere near the top of the list right now. I don't think it's happening anytime soon.
Scott: The Flyers' slump almost seems to have coincided with the Versteeg deal. Obviously, it's not his fault, but could it be that their chemistry got somewhat disjointed? Richards, arguably their best all-around player, gets a new linemate thrust upon him in March?
Craig; Weird how that stuff happens, no? Look at Jason Arnott helping jump-start Alexander Semin in Washington. Kovalev and Neal haven't produced offense in Pittsburgh (I know it's not all their fault given the injuries, still, the numbers are the numbers). Kings have played well with Dustin Penner. It does take time and sometimes you don't yield results until the playoffs. Sometimes you don't yield results at all. I will be shocked if the Flyers don't get their act together.
Okay folks, time to get on with the weekend. Let's do it again next week. Look forward to it.