Hello all. Seems like a long summer, no? Welcome back to another season of pucks and lots of great puck discussion. So, where were we?
I've heard lots of talk that the Red Wings won't be as good as in years pass. What's your take on it all?
Logan; I think people confuse change like the retirements of Kris Draper and Chris Osgood and Brian Rafalski as being a rebuild. Yes, the Wings will miss Rafalski most but he was hurt much of last season and they were still one win from the Western Conference final. More questions about the blue line - can Ian White take a step forward? - but still a top four or five team in the Western Conference.
Scott, I drove up to Detroit just over a week ago to see the Flyers play. I am a huge Jaromir Jagr fan and sat 5th row behind the goal where the flyers shot twice. I saw Jagr's first goal back. It looked like vintage Jagr. Jagr has torn it up in the preseason. Do you think this will hold up in the regular season? Who will he have the best chemistry with lineup wise with the Flyers?
Kristen; Had a chance to chat with Jagr at Flyers' camp last week and was impressed with his attitude and apparently he is in terrific shape for a guy three years removed from the NHL. It looks like he'll play some with James van Riemsdyk to start and he'll get loads of PP time early on. If he stays healthy 75 points?
Over/Under: Combined 75 goals for Parise/Kovy this year
Adam; Let's assume both stay healthy over. But do Parise's goals count after he gets traded?
What am I to expect from the Jets this season?
Josh; Will be in Winnipeg for the home opener next week and sounds like the city is on fire for the season to start. Good for them. I think they may be better than last season but a ton of things will have to fall their way to get to the playoffs including maturity from Zach Bogosian, consistency from Ondrej Pavelec and a better effort from Nik Antropov. Honestly don't see it happening.
Sheldon Souray? Really? What does this guys have left? What will he contribute to the Stars?
Emily; Well if nothing Souray has loads to prove after being banished to the AHL by the Oilers last season. Great shot. Tough as nails. Not sure how he hurts a team that needs lots of help.
Besides our pathetic goaltending situation here on the Island, we have alot of firepower up front, think we can get to that number 8 playoff spot in the East?
Jacob; Well, not sure the goaltending is pathetic just yet more like odd with three very different storylines with DiPietro, Nabokov and Montoya. If one (or two, imagine that?) catch lightning in a bottle the Isles could be the dark horse of the conference. I didn't have the guts to put them in my top eight but wouldn't be surprised to see them there in the end.
What place do you see Buffalo finishing in the East?
TP; I have the Sabres in sixth. Still not sure how all those new parts are going to mesh but they should be a lock to make the playoffs.
Hi Scott: Are The Rangers a solid contender for the east this year? or are people drinking too much blue Kool-Aid? Thanks!
Chris; That's a pretty big jump from 8th to contending for the top seed especially with Marc Staal still in limbo with post-concussion issues. That's a huge hole in the line-up if he's out for any length of time. But given make-up of the Rangers skill/grit/youth/goaltending I like them as a playoff team for sure.
Does Adam Larsson of Devils of New Jersey hockey squad have chance of make team? I submit question now and read your answer on screen, Mr. Scott.
Sven; Welcome. And looks from all reports out of New Jersey Larsson isn't just going to make the team but will play big minutes to start. Already some are targeting him as a possible Calder Trophy winner as rookie of the year. Should be fun to watch.
We have a ton of young talent up front here in St. Louis, any way at all we can challange for the division?
Kevin; Agreed on the pieces Doug Armstrong and the Blues have assembled. Need to stay healthy which has been an issue for them the past couple of years and of course need Jaroslav Halak to be the Halak of 2010 playoffs with Montreal but I think the Blues are a playoff team and could give Chicago and Detroit a scare for the Central Division crown.
Do you think the Kings' top six forwards will be enough offensive talent to push them deep in the playoffs?
Mike; I like their make-up a lot more than in the past couple of years assuming full health for Kopitar - how big a loss was he last spring? - and with Mike Richards making them much deeper down the middle. Like the make-up of the blue line although I am going to have to see more of Jonathan Quick in the clutch before I buy the Kings as Cup contenders.
Scott, good to get started on another year of chats. I hope you are more rested this year since you no longer had to fight your way through the hundreds of local media for a month at Thrashers training camp. Let's start the classic Burnside/Lebrun debate right now....which conference is better heading into the season? Yes the West has arguably the two best teams in Vancouver and San Jose (plus Detroit as usual)...but consider you have to go through the following goalies to make it in the East....Thomas, Miller, Price, Lundquist, Fleury, Brodeur, Ward, Vokoun and now Bryzgalov. West can't match that.
Jesse; Good to be back. And no crowds down at Philips Arena these days, that's for sure. I saw someone suggest the East might actually be more balanced now than the West although I'm not sure I buy that necessarily. But your point about the goaltending is right on. More goaltending questions in the West for sure; Varlamov, Crawford, Howard, Quick, etc. etc. No doubt my friend Mr. LeBrun will soon be banging the Western Conference drum once again, though.
Any rumors circulating as to where Parise ends up? I would LOVE to see him in Boston. Bruins can't move Seguin to center until they give him an elite winger to play with.
Marc; I think the Bruins are among 29 teams wondering if they'd have a shot at acquiring Parise if the Devils move him by the trade deadline or signing him as an unrestricted free agent next summer. That's assuming he goes. He could sign in early Jan. and this is all a moot point but I will be surprised if that's the way it goes. Los Angeles, especially if they have a good run, will be attractive. What about Parise's home state of Minnesota if the Wild can sneak into the playoffs and show some forward momentum? Detroit will have a ton of cap space next summer and the possibility of Parise with Zetterberg and/or Datsyuk is pretty enticing, no? Should be fun.
What do you think about Carolina signing Kaberle and moving Corvo? Does Carolina need him to be the leader of that D or will Gleason and Pitkanen fill that role?
Richard; I'm not sure Kaberle is cut out for the leadership business and frankly I think Tim Gleason is the real glue on the blue line. Tough and fearless he and Pitkanen probably don't get the respect they are due. That said the whole team defense thing has to be better this season if the 'Canes are going to get back to the post-season.
When do you think Boston will handle over the reigns of goalie over to Tuukka Rask? I know timmay just had his best season ever but is it time for Rask to step in?
ted; Don't think it will be any time soon given that Thomas is hoping to reprise his Vezina/Conn Smythe/Stanley Cup performance of last season. But your point is a good one, at some point Rask will need to get back the confidence he showed two years ago when he played so well and Thomas was injured/off his game. It will be interesting to see how Claude Julien handles the workload during the regular season (Rask was 11-14-2 last season).
Do you really believe Kipper wont hit 70 games again this year?
Dicky; I think if Kiprusoff plays in 70 again it's bad news for the Flames. I know in talking to GM Jay Feaster he is hoping Henrik Karlsson really helps take the load off Kiprusoff so Kiprusoff can get back to his elite form.
Corey Crawford - 70 starts this year? what do you expect from him?
Don; Speaking of 70 starts that seems like a lot for a young man with one NHL season under his belt even if it was a terrific season. Blackhawks look like they'll keep Ray Emery and if he can stay healthy and spell Crawford with quality starts Crawford won't need to play that much. Need him mentally/physically fresh come mid-April.
Craig Anderson looked great at the end of last year...any chance he gets the sens into the playoffs and allows them to make a run?
Jack; We're on a goaltending roll here. In short, no. Sens blue line is too young and there's too little up front for this team over the long haul even if Anderson is as good as he was at the end of last season and that's a pretty big 'if'.
Do you see Kovy getting back to where he shoould be this year? 40+ goals?
joe; I think that's a definite possibility.
Is it too ambitious to expect 80+ points from both gaborik and richards? seems like a perfect fit for each other and i expect big numbers!!
tom; If both those guys can stay healthy I see no reason 80-plus from each isn't attainable. That's a pretty big 'if' though given that Richards is coming off a season in which he had a concussion and more importantly Gaborik has a history of coming up lame sometimes for long periods of time. That pairing, though, will be one of the most-watched storylines in the early weeks of the season.
How many games do you see Crosby playing this season and what are the chances Malkin takes over the scoring race?
Adam; The Crosby lottery (different from the one that saw him become a Penguin in the summer of '05) is a great one. My guess is he misses fewer than 10 games to start the season, maybe 15. As for Malkin he looks like a beast in camp and I will be surprised if he's not top five in scoring next April. Another Art Ross? Entirely possible.
Which elite prospect from the last couple of years do you see making a jump to elite NHLer?
Cooper; We talked a little earlier about Larsson in New Jersey. Curious to see if he can have the kind of impact Tyler Myers did two years ago. And the folks in Winnipeg are wild about their first pick Mark Scheifele who looks like he'll get a look to start the season and Gabriel Landeskog who looks like he's ready for NHL hockey. My pre-season pick for Calder (at least one of them) was Jonathon Blum of Nashville.
With the defensive and goaltending overhaul, what is your opinion on where the Avalanche will finish in the standings? Do you give them a chance to make a splash in the playoffs, if they get there?
Jeff; I have the Avs outside the Western Conference playoff grid but I will say this, the Northwest is pretty ordinary after Vancouver and if Varlamov/Giguere can provide Craig Anderson-like goaltending circa 2010, the Avs may hang around the playoff race. Shouldn't have any problems scoring (assuming they don't have the injuries they did a year ago) but is the blue line going to be good enough? Big fan of Erik Johnson and if he gets it turned around could be a surprise trip to the post-season again for the Avs.
Scott, do you see the Stars making the playoffs this year? They've certainly played well in the preseason and have some impressive young players and an intriguing mix of veterans. I ponied up for the Center Ice package to watch them this year in hopes they don't blow the last game of the season to not make it, as they did last year. Thanks.
Sam; That was one ugly way to go out last year, losing Game 82. Ouch. I put the Stars in a group of five or six teams that will hover around the playoff picture but I don't think they've got enough to get over the hump. Still not sold on Kari Lehtonen as a franchise goalie and the young guys up front are going to have to take a step forward. Do like the evolving blue line. Alex Goligoski poised for a big number season. Great piece of the James Neal deal that was supposed to favor Pittsburgh.
With the addition of Cole and now Pacioretty back in the lineup, the Habs FINALLY added some size to their top six. Do you see them challenging the Bruins for the division title if all breaks right?
Robbie; On paper, yes. But Pacioretty will have to prove he can come back from the Chara hit and Cole has not played well in these kinds of fishbowl circumstances before (Edmonton) and not sure he's got another 26-goal campaign in him or not. Can Andrei Markov contribute? Can Carey Price carry the freight again? Too many questions for my liking when it comes to the Northest Division.
Talking realignment...Putting aside that the owners in the West want to keep the Wings given how big of a draw they are attendance-wise, how good for the league as a whole is a DET move East (balance of power between conferences, five Original Six teams together, more Wings games during east-coast prime-time)?
Jay; It's the debate that isn't going away this season, that's for sure. I think taking the Wings out of the West is too big a hit for the Western Conference in terms of attendance, balance of power etc. You trade a perennial weak sister in Winnipeg(Atlanta) for a perennial Cup contender and that's a big hole in the West. No easy way around it given the Wings' fans deserve to see their team more often in their own time zone but the good of the game suggests they need to stay out west. At least in my opinion.
Scott,Who wins the Atlantic this year? Do you think Jagr will have that big of an impact in Philly or can the Penguins finally win the Atlantic?
Jeff; Went with Pittsburgh but this is the best division in hockey I think with the Isles poised to surprise and the Devils generally speaking always in the hunt. Rangers are better and the Flyers should still be a contender even with their overhaul. Should be fun.
Scott, who is the most hated player in the NHL by fans? I think it's Sidney Crosby followed by Sean Avery.
Mark; No shortage of players for that list. Chris Pronger booed pretty much wherever he goes. Dany Heatley not all that popular in most of Canada. For different reasons Avery and Crosby get lots of boos (too bad Crosby won't play in the opener Thursday given his golden goal in Vancouver in 2010). Todd Bertuzzi generates pretty strong feelings in lots of buildings.
Hey scott why is it that the B's are getting no love as defending champs? Even their blurb in the power rankings was insulting. The same team is coming back (minus ryder and thank god kaberle). And why does everyone seem to think this one year is going to affect Tim Thomas so much, when will people learn never to underestimate timmy??
Joe; Didn't mean to insult the Bruins but I just think last spring was their magical time. Different guys stepping up at just the right moment. Thomas playing out of his mind. This doesn't diminish what they accomplished. Theirs was the ultimate team win. But to have everything fall just right two springs in a row? I just don't see it happening.
Hearing rumors of Whitney to the Bruins, any update on this and what would it take for the Bruins to get Whitney?
Mike; Ray Whitney's name has surfaced because he makes a lot of money relatively speaking for the 'Yotes ($3 million) and because he will become a UFA in July. Still, Coyotes need offense so don't see any kind of move taking place until it becomes clear Phoenix won't be in the playoff hunt. I think the Bruins will be on the lookout for a player to fill Mark Recchi's void, veteran, decent offensive up-side, no long-term commitment. Could happen at some point. Great addition if it does.
Which city do you think would embrace hockey the most if their team suddenly has a resurgence (i.e. chicago)?
Tyrell; Good question. I'm curious to see if there are actually fans in South Florida who will respond if the re-made Panthers stake out a claim on a playoff spot through the first half of the season. Columbus is desperate for a winning product on the ice to stop the erosion of that fan base although I don't think they've got the right ingredients. And then there's Atlanta, oh wait, never mind.
Well, on that note, thanks all for dropping by. Let's do it again next week when we've got some game action under our belts. Until then be well.