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March 30, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Pierre LeBrun

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:58 PM)

Greetings from the LeBrun home base in Toronto, let's talk puck !

Brant (winnipeg)

Hi PierreWith all the talk about the Coyites coming to Winnipeg, and everyone has a different take on this story, how does the NHL Board of Governers feel about what is going on.I always thought a team would come back, but I always thought the Florida Panthers were the team in the most financial trouble, can you advise as to how stable they arethanks

Pierre LeBrun
  (3:59 PM)

The Panthers have a real good arena lease, that's always been my understanding. So while attendance has struggled _ I mean, it's not a good market _ the club has a sweet arena lease is what I've always been told

Josh (Atlanta)

Pierre, why no love for Luongo for the Vezina. Everyone keeps talking about Thomas, Rinne (who are both ahead of Lui in terms of GAA and Save PCT) and Price. Now I know Montreal has nobody without him, but Lui has been a rock for the top team in the NHL which has lost more d-men to injury than any other team. Where's the love for Bobby Lou?!?!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:02 PM)

Interesting question actually. I canvassed 9 NHL GMs today about the Vezina since they vote on it. I've got a blog coming out on it later today, but Luongo is indeed among the 7 names that most GMs I asked were on their short list (in no particular order): Thomas, Rinne, Price, Lundqvist, Luongo, Price, Bryzgalov.Those were the seven names the 9 GMs I canvassed were most in line with....

James (Philadelphia)

Hey Pierre,Recently, or even as far back as the all star break, the Flyers have shown me and the rest of the country an inability to play at a consistently high level like they did all throughout the first half of the season. They seem to slow down in the third period and seem frustratingly sluggish at times. I am a die hard fan who cannot wait for the playoffs, and I like our chances given our play this year. But this inconsistency during the second half of the year was not there in the first half, and it's scaring me a little. What do you make of the Flyers situation right now? Do you think they'll be able to pick things up before/during the playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:03 PM)

That was a big win for them last night in Pitt. Losing twice to them in a week with no Crosby/Malkin and having the Pens tie them in standings would have been on the Flyers' psyche. But they came up with a huge performance last night.I still think they're a legitimate contender

RICH (PITTSBURGH)

HOW MANY GAMES WOULD BERTUZZI GET IF HE PLAYED FOR PITTSBURGH?HOW MANY YEARS DOES IT TAKE TO GET RID OF THE REPEAT OFFENDER TAG TAKEN OFF?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:04 PM)

he would have got the same on that specific play: zero.

Bill (Toronto)

Which injury to a player on aplayoff team hurts their chances the most of attaining success?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:05 PM)

Bill, eliminating Crosby becaus that's too obvious, I'd say Kopitar/LATop minutes eater among their forwards, top scorer, two-way guy, did it all.

Dan Bylsma (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pierre, there have been some big injuries lately. Kings fans freaking out over loss of Kopitar, Hawks fans concerned about Sharp, Canucks fans panicking about loss of Malhotra. All good points, but try playing without Kopitar AND Doughty...without Toews AND Kane....without BOTH Sedins....for HALF THE SEASON! Then get back to us. Get our point?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:06 PM)

LOUD AND CLEAR !

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Pierre, Todd Bertuzzi....elbow to the head of Johnson, borderline left his feet, the ultimate repeat offender, new stiffer suspension rules in place.....NO SUSPENSION! Doesn't this decision only strengthen the conspiracy theories that Cooke's suspension (especially tacking on the playoff games) was aimed more at Pens management for opening their mouths than it was at Cooke himself.....kind of a "careful what you wish for" scenario?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:07 PM)

First of all, he's not the ''ultimate" repeat offender. He hasn't offended in seven years, albeit a big one in Steve Moore.Second, if you look at the video again, and I spoke with 4 GMs who agreed, it's not that bad a play, looks more clumsy than anything.

Mike Green (Washington, DC)

Pierre...a lot of Caps fans are wondering when I will come back from injury. Didn't any of them WATCH my playoff performances the last two years? Especially last year where i was knocked over by a stiff breeze in my own zone to allow Dominic Moore to score a key goal in Game 7 for the Habs. Let's be honest, the Caps playoff chances are better if I just stay out.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:08 PM)

I think they could use you on the PP

Lawrence (Toronto)

Maybe obvious answer; how is Phoenix so well again this season?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:08 PM)

1. Dave Tippett2. Ilya Bryzgalov3. Keith Yandle

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pierre, have you seen the videos of me practicing the last few weeks? Those cones and men's league goalie I am shooting against never had a chance! If all teams tried to defend me like that...I could score 93.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:09 PM)

haha, hope to have you back Sid, the game isn't the same without you

Tyler (New Hampshire USA)

What a year Corey Perry is having, did anyone expect him to be tied for the goal lead? And do you think he can edge out Stamkos for the Rocket Richard trophy?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:09 PM)

A fantastic year. Yes I think he can keep pace with Stamkos

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Pierre, do today's confusing Sidney Crosby developments represent a step forward or a step backward in your opinion? It seems good that he will be traveling and practicing with the team, but at the same time the Pens say he will only take part in morning skates and not in full practices on non-game days. So it seems like he will now actually be practicing LESS than he has been for the last few weeks when he was skating every day against the cones. With only 1.5 weeks left in the regular season, something doesn't seem right here....

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:10 PM)

Jesse, all you need to know on Crosby right here my friend, I spoke with Ray Shero today:http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/6308/ray-shero-right-to-temper-expectations-for-sidney-crosbys-return

Zack (Palo Alto, CA)

The Wings struggles have been obvious. Injuries and the D are struggling. Given this how much of the struggles of late do we put on injuries or do we put it squarely on the team just not performing?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:10 PM)

Both in my mind... I still think the Wings will be tough to beat but they need to bring it up one more notch

Philip (Huntsville)

I know what the official answer is, but in reality are the referees going to treat Crosby like fine china when he returns? Will everyone who looks at him funny get a penalty?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:12 PM)

anyone who actually thinks that doesn't know much about how the NHL is really run.

John (Boston)

Classy move by someone on the Blackhawks bench to "chirp" at a guy going off the ice to get 40 stitches in his face. How tough is Shawn Thornton, going right back at them, even though he was making a donation to the Red Cross (as Jack Edwards would say)?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:13 PM)

Not only is Thornton a tough customer, but he's got underrated hockey skills. He's not a goon. He's a guy that can play the game and yes, of course, protect his teammates

Sean (Orange County, Ca.)

Pierre, Thanks for the nice piece you guys did on Selanne!The man is amazing. I know no one even thought the Ducks were a playoff team, but it sure looks like everything has aligned for them over the past month. Playing their best hockey late in the season as usual. Who do the Ducks want to play in the first round? And here's hoping both the Kings and the Ducks make the dance.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:14 PM)

Really no easy prey when it comes to top three right now in Vancouver, San Jose or Detroit... if Anaheim can somehow finish 5th, Phoenix is a more balanced matchup for the Ducks

Danny (San Jose)

Hello Pierre,I am concerned about which Sharks team will show up come playoff time? I still think they are missing a good D? What do you think? Thanks

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:15 PM)

Last year's Final Four berth was a big step for this Sharks team. What I like about them right now is that no one, nationally, is giving them much attention. Vancouver has taken care of that from the West and Detroit as usual... i think it will suit the Sharks well to not be in the spotlight at the onset of the playoffs. They're playing real well right now and have the potential to have a long run in my mind

Adam (Mass)

Shawn Thornton is going to look like a 80s action movie villian when that cut heals. Anyways, are these Bruins we've seen in the last couple weeks the real deal?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:17 PM)

Really impressbed by their recent wins over Montreal, Philly and Chicago. They've got as good a chance as anyone in the East

Joel (San Francisco)

Do you think teams will ever entertain the idea of having one goalie on their team be a shootout specialist (ie. playing in all of them even if they were the back up during the game)? Like players, some goalies are just better in shootouts. Are goalies egos really that fragile that they wouldn't understand getting pulled after OT?I think of this every time I watch the Flames in a SO. As good as a goalie as Kiprusoff is, his size puts him at a disadvantage in the SO. If guys come in with speed, it backs him up and they have a lot of net to shoot at. He countered that by getting aggressive with the poke check, but now teams have figured that out and are sliding it in under him as he extends for the poke check. Because of his size, Karlsson is a much better SO goalie..... I figure that if it worked in Mighty Ducks 2, it should work in the NHL!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:18 PM)

In 2005-06, the first year of the shootout, a couple of NHL teams actually did change goalies the odd time when the shootout arrived. It really didn't catch on. I remember an Oilers goalie getting really upset when he got yanked before the shootout, can't remember whom exactly. But it's not something that's caught on at all.

Solutionchris (Montreal)

Pierre,Everybody are agreed, Sid,Ovy,Stamkos are the best in NHL on offensive side...but i followed a lots of game lately and i really felt in love whit Jonathan Toews 2 way hockey sense...hwo is the best NHL 2 way player??? , Toews, Datsiuk,Zetterberg???

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:20 PM)

You're bang on regarding Toews, he's a gem when you consider his two-way play. And big-time clutch as testimony by his Conn Smythe Trophy and named Top Forward at the Olympics last February. Datsyuk and Toews likely the best two-way game in the league

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

Assuming if Chicago gets Vancouver in the playoffs, can the Blackhawks beat them again? Or is this not the same team as before?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:21 PM)

There's still a heart of a champion in that Blackhawks dressing room but I will say this, the Canucks right now are playing hockey at a level no other team in the league is playing

Joel (central PA)

Looking at the current playoff scenario, do you think ANY of the higher seeds have a favorable draw that will let them get to the next round? Outside, of Phoenix taking on the banged-up Kings, I see more upsets than not.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:23 PM)

I say this every week in this chat and it's not a cop-out: more than ever, ALL 16 teams that get in have a shot. The parity is mind-boggling in this league. I mean, would it really be an upset if a No. 8 Buffalo beat a No. 1 Philly? A year ago the Sabres were a No. 3 seed and the Flyers wear a No. 7 seed. PARITY.

Andrew (Pittsburgh)

Do the pens have a chance at the cup?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:23 PM)

If Crosby returns and he's the old Crosby, yesIf not, I can't see them winning the Cup without Crosby and Malkin

Chris (Louisville)

Assuming the Predators make the playoffs (again), how does Barry Trotz NOT win the Jack Adams? I know other coaches are in the running like John Tortorella but all the other coaches are on teams that have more talent and expectations than the Preds. And they're doing it with as many injuries as anyone. No team can afford injuries but let's face it, with Nashville it's even more so. No Sullivan, Goc, Lombardi, O'Reilly, Bouillon, etc. for a total 321 man games lost. And here they are sitting in the 6 spot. And he does it year after year only to lose to some super turn-around story. It's time this year to finally give this man his due.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:25 PM)

Well, I'm guessing Dan Bylsma (no Crosby, Malkin) will gets lots of votes, as well as Dave Tippett in Phoenix yet again. But Trotz certainly deserves much consideration. I don't get a vote on this one.The Jack Adams is voted on by the NHL Broadcasters' Association

Toby (DC)

Pierre, nice article on the Pens tempering action with wisdom... Do you think that even having Crosby back on the road, hanging out, at morning skates, etc will have a positive effect on the team in general (granted the greatest effect the Kid could have would be coming back and going on another 25 game point streak)?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:26 PM)

Toby, thank you.Yes that's a good point on your part. As you saw from 24/7 HBO show, the Pens are a tight-knit team. Just having him in the room, on the plane, in the hotel, his teammates will appreciate his company

Thomas (Eagan, MN)

Nothing like sweeping an opposing team in their own arena. Nothing like beating that team to go up 4 points in the division with 6 to play. Nothing like finally looking like a team that SHOULD be atop the standings and not coasting into the playoffs. Should the Flyers put together a run in these next few games and enter the playoffs hot - who has the best chance of stopping them in the East? Or in the Finals?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:27 PM)

Bruins and Caps are biggest foes to Flyers at this point

David (SJ)

Hey Pierre, Can you send a message to Joe Thornton from us Sharks fans? Tell him to play mad and angry. When he plays like that he is a beast to be reckoned with. Thats what wins in the postseason, that extra grit and sandpaper that glues a team. Our year Pierre!!!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:27 PM)

will do !

Amy (Phoenix)

Pierre-After listening to Shero's comments what is your gut feeling on Crosby's possible return for the Playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:29 PM)

Amy, so, so, so hard to tell. It's a week-to-week thing and impossible to predict. But you asked for my gut feeling... I say he returns sometime int he playoffs... but I say that without much conviction at all

Stu (Newport Beach)

Pierre, like your Ducks pick tonight. If Ducks end up in the 5-6 spot, Corey Perry for MVP? Lubo for Norris? Emery for Comeback Player of the Year? Murray for GM of the year? Was hard to leave Teemu out, gotta get him his props! Thoughts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:29 PM)

Ducks are an awesome story. I mean, imagine basically doing this post all-star break WITHOUT Jonas Hiller? Amazing.

Matt (NJ)

Pierre - You always have great stuff going on. I enjoy your work. Ok so we all agree the Devils are not making the playoffs this season and it was very difficult to watch the 1st half and Kovalchuk's struggles.It's still early but you got to say the Devils are making out with the Kovy deal so far...1) Oduya hasn't been the same player since he was shipped south to ATL (esp at $3.5M cap hit per yr)2) ATL found out quickly that Bergfors is not an NHL everyday player3) Cormier finally got some time in the bigs but he at best willthat leaves us to see how those draft picks pan out. As of today what are your thoughts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:30 PM)

I mean, Kovalchuk was out the door last July 1 and Atlanta would have got nothing at all. So it's hard to fault the Thrashers in any deal they made for a UFA-to-be

stephen, brooklyn, ny [via mobile]

Hey pierre why is no one talking about lundqvist for Vezina. He leads the league in shutouts and has very good numbers including over 30 wins

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:31 PM)

yes I think you likely saw by Vezina post earlier, he's among my list of candidates in my Vezina blog being posted later

craig (palm harbor, fl)

Sidney Crosby is or at least is perceived by many hockey fans to be a whiny crybaby, there is no doubt that he is very talented and one of the better players in the league, but his attitude and some of his actions on the ice have turned off many hockey fans from wanting to be a sidney crosby fan, how do you think his injury and time away from the game will effect him? do you think he will have a different attitude and approach to the game when he comes back?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:33 PM)

Let me say something that I've said before but fans don't seem to want to hear: I've gotten to know Sidney Crosby. I've been around him. He's a great kid. He's everything you'd want as a player, captain, teammate, you name it. People who say these things about him have not got to be around him. if they did, they'd think otherwise.

Mark (Los angeles)

Do you think the kings can be what montreal was last season? I think if kings become even more so a grittier team they can surprise people.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:34 PM)

The Habs did indeed thrive without Andrei Markov which was truly surprising. Could the Kings do it? Sometimes teams are galvanized by the ''us vs. the world" mantra.

Derek (la Cabane)

My Buddy Pierre, give me your honest opinion. Do you think I have a real chance in having to to go to Beantown in June, to celebrate in the parade festivities????

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:35 PM)

haha, hello my friend Derek (bar owner in Montreal). yes your team has a chance my friend. A chance!

Neil (Vancouver)

Pierre, we all know that anything can and does happen in the playoffs, but the Canucks, even with injuries, have to be considered a clear favourite, no? When was the last time any team was so dominant? Leading the league in goals for, fewest goals against, best power play, best penalty kill, best faceoff percentage, and the league's leading scorer. Seriously, when was the last time that ever happened? Late '80's Edmonton, maybe?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:36 PM)

Neil, funny you should mention that. Today I was scrolling through ESPN.com's NHL team pages and when I went to Vancouver, the number 1 was there four times: first overall in PK, PP, goals for, goals against. Now that's domination.

Nick (Brighton)

Boston: Contender or Pretender?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:36 PM)

Contender

Andy (Rochester)

I went from being super confident about the sabres to worried we won't get in. Ease my fears Pierre?!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:36 PM)

I think their record since Jan. 1 suggests they should be ok... but there's still work to be done my friend

Red Scarf Union (Ottawa)

Any whispers or rumors regarding the Ottawa Senators current/future management team? This needs to get sorted out before the draft, no?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:41 PM)

All I know is that I spoke with Bryan Murray last Saturday and he said he would sit down with owner Eugene Melnyk at end of the season to figure it out

Robert (Los Angeles)

Any word on whether Paul Kariya will attempt a comeback?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:42 PM)

At this point that remains TBD

Steve (CT)

Who do you see winning tonight Rangers vs. Sabres? What was Miller doing on that first goal last night? Catching fly's?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:43 PM)

1-0 Sabres

John (Boston)

Any chance of Darth Quaider getting some Calder consideration? His style of play doesn't lend itself to that trophy, but look at his plus minus, even though it is a flawed stat. Plus he plays really physical, and is willing to drop the gloves to defend himself and his teammates.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:44 PM)

the competition is too deep this year for that award my friend. Don't think he'll get a sniff

matt (nashville)

Do you think Shea will be here long term? I have this nightmare of him going to vacate an opening a certain team in our division is going to have in a year or two for a top defenseman.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:45 PM)

Matt, I know progress had been made in progress talks last month but talk are now on hold until after the season.. my gut feeling is that he will sign in Nashville

Marc (Malden, MA)

Can we just dump the shootout altogether? 3 pts for regulation win, 2 points for OT win, 1 pt for OT loss or Tie

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:45 PM)

I will second that thought

JP (Toronto)

Montreal vs Boston or Vancouver vs Chicago, which series would be more exciting? you have to choose

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:45 PM)

how about Chicago vs. Detroit????

TDawg (Powell River)

Pierre, your short list of 7 goalies for Vezina was:Thomas, Rinne, Price, Lundqvist, Luongo, Price, BryzgalovPlease tell me Fleury was supposed to be one, instead of Price twice?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:46 PM)

LOL, yes sorry Fleury was in that list. my bad. the Vezina blog was just posted, here you go:http://espn.go.com/blog/nhl/post/_/id/6300/vezina-trophy-race-the-contenders-our-winner

Nick (Brighton)

I'm surprised that Solutionchris from Quebec would forget about Patrice Bergeron when talking about great two-way players. He doesn't get much publicity, but he could be the best all around player on Boston. Thoughts??

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:49 PM)

yes and he should be a Selke candidate this year hopefully. But I think the point we're making in Toews and Datsyuk is that their offensive production is just as impressive as their defensive play.Bergeron doesn't put up the offense quite as much as Toews/Datsyuk

Garrett (IL)

With Handzus/Ponikarovsky both off the books this year and Stoll, Smyth, Penner, and Mitchell off the books next year I think the Kings should go after Parise with an offer sheet. The system is decently stocked that the Kings could spare a few years in picks now while Kopitar, Schenn, Doughty, Johnson, and a few others are just in the start of their careers/primes. Then when the stars start to age they will have the picks to restock. So while the team has the space and the assets to absorb losses now is a good time for an offer sheet. Thoughts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:50 PM)

I do know this: the Kings love Zach Parise

Graham (Michigan)

With some recent bad goalie interference calls, do you think the league will ever consider making Goalie interference a reviewable play? And I know the whole, it is too much of a judgement call, but I dont think that it is any more of a judgment call than a kick in. What are your thoughts on that and other changes to reviews?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:52 PM)

not sure GMs would ever go for that but i can tell you I was talking to Ryan Miller yesterday and he said the contact with goalies is as bad as ever right now

Jeff - Naples, Fl. [via mobile]

Lets just assume for the moment Crosby doesnt play in these playoffs, with the Pens playing some great defense now how far can they realisticly go without him???

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:53 PM)

second round at best in my mind

Corey Perry (Anaheim, CA)

Pierre, in your podcast with Burnside you identified Buffalo, Rangers and Chicago as teams none of the top seeds want to play. Well do you think any of the top seeds in the West want to see us right now? How about a 2-7 matchup between us and Detroit? HEY DATSYUK, YOU'RE GONNA GET IT!! (remember that?)

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:54 PM)

haha, Corey you have a point.... Just don't drop the gloves with Datsyuk ever again. That made me squirm

Rob (NYC)

With all the injuries and lack of depth the Canadiens possess, plus their inability to score goals, doesn't Carey Price have to be the leader in the clubhouse for the Hart? Without him they are a lottery team.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:55 PM)

Rob, that's the point I've been making about Price for several weeks. Honestly, that Habs team is pretty pedestrian without his heroics this year.Price will be among my five choices on my Hart ballot for sure

John (Boston)

Are the Bruins the most physical team in the league?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:55 PM)

YES

Jay (Winnipeg)

Great work Pierre. Just wondering how tired you are of the Coyotes ownership situation? Here in Wpg it is dragging on too long. Just wondering why so many franchises are for sale and who might be in the most trouble?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:57 PM)

Very tired of the Coyotes story. So many times have been told by key sources involved in the sale that this week is huge, then it's next week, and next week, etc.... Enough already !

Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)

Pierre, sorry, I posted my previous Crosby question before I read your latest blog. Pens appear to have done great without Sid/Geno...but if you really crunch the numbers they are 0-8 at home versus Philly, Wash, Boston this year and have not won a regulation game against a playoff team not named Buffalo in about two months. We have seen from history that tons of shootout wins indicates trouble closing out games....not necessarily a good sign come playoffs....

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:57 PM)

agreed

Nick (Brighton)

Is Thomas still in the Hart discussion...I mean, it's not every year that a goalie shatters the GAA and SV % records.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:57 PM)

Yes

Ron (Las Vegas)

Greetings from medical school Pierre! What goalie should my Wings go with for the playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:59 PM)

a healthy Jimmy HOward

Pierre LeBrun
  (5:01 PM)

OK folks, gotta jump on Buffalo sports radio now.Talk next week !