Greetings all. Returned unscathed from visits to Vancouver and Winnipeg to open the season. Feels like hockey's truly back. Now, where were we?
Is Varlamov for real ? and where do you see Nabokov going ? Starting ? THX
Mike; Well stopping 66 of the first 68 shots you face with your new team is a pretty good way to earn the healthy respect of your teammates and a new fan base. I don't think anyone doubted that Varlamov has the goods to be an elite goaltender but the issue for him has been durability. But certainly GM Greg Sherman's early plan in goal is unfolding better than he could have hoped. Who knew the offense would be the early soft spot for the Avs?
Scott, any chance Jim Rutherford would consider trading Eric Staal and what kind of return could the Canes get for him? Parise?
Bill; Remember Jeff Carter and Mike Richards? Never say never, right? But given how Jim Rutherford goes about his business - effective, understated - it's hard to imagine a scenario that would see him trade his captain. Just don't see it happening even if you could acquire a guy like Z. Parise in such a deal.
As a fellow Scotty, what are your thoughts on Parise staying with the Devils this year? Do you think the Devils get him extended during the season, or does he finish the season somewhere else? I could see the Kings making a big trade for him by the deadline.
Scotty; The Parise situation is going to be one of the most compelling stories of this season given his talent and importance to the Devils. We saw that with their first win of the season over Carolina. The Devils can't technically sign him to a new deal until January but obviousy will be talking. If the team is in the middle of the playoff hunt hard to imagine Lou Lamoriello trading him. If they falter and the two sides can't get together on a new deal then Lamoriello will have to look at dealing him. Then it gets interesting. Yes, Kings would be avid suitors. But they'd join probably a dozen or more teams that would take a run at Parise.
Scott: You are Gary Bettman and you see that the NBA has locked out for two weeks and possibly more. What do you do to try and get those fans converted to NHL? I think this could be a turning point for the advancement of the NHL if the NBA does in fact lockout, no?
Evan; Good question. I know in the past the league has shied away from running campaigns that overtly target other sports that are shut down - something about glass houses and rocks - but certainly the absence of the NBA especially after college football season ends provides a unique opportunity for the NHL to fill the winter void. New TV deal with NBC/Versus will certainly create more/better profile for the game and an abundance of games for bored basketball fans to take in. And in some NBA markets maybe NHL teams will appeal to their basketball fans to try something new. Interesting to see how it unfolds.
So after the Sabres go 2-0 this weekend, how far down will you move them in the power rankings when you adjust them on Monday?
Adam; Sabres looked good. No disputing that. But let's see how the rest of the week goes before I get my poison pen out for next week's rankings.
What is your take on the new look Philadelphia Flyers so far? Do you think they have a shot to take the Atlantic?
Alex; I always thought this was going to be a good Flyer team in spite of the change in personnel. And Ilya Bryzgalov has looked dynamite in the Flyers' two wins. Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr look like they've fit in well early on as has Wayne Simmonds. I think the Atlantic is as good a division there is in hockey and I think the Flyers have as good a shot as any of those teams to win it.
What do you make of what was one of the worst nights for NHL attendance last night? 6000 in Dallas?
Jason; Just checked the official score sheet; 6,306. Yikes. Very Atlanta like. But that's what happens when a team has significant ownership issues and has fallen out of the playoff race the last couple of years and become less relevant in the marketplace. The good news is that the league is expecting new ownership to be in place shortly and they'll begin the process of rebuilding relationships with fans. We've seen the pendulum swing under similar circumstances in places like St. Louis and the history in Dallas shows there is a solid core of fans there. They just a need a reason to come back.
Caps first tilt against your Pens on Thursday. I'd ask who you think is going to take this one, but I already know the answer. You going to the game or is it a long-distance love affair?
Chris; Not going to be on hand for this one. And I've probably been to more Caps games in the last two years than Pens games. Should be a good tilt although with Malkin out of action tonight and presumably uncertain for Thursday and no Crosby that should negate the home ice advantage for Pens. Better question is whether it's Neuvirth or Vokoun for the Caps. My guess is Neuvirth.
I am Wings' GM and I want Weber, but I won't give up Z or Pavel, how does this trade happen? What are the alternatives?
Sergei; You wait until July 1 and then back the Red Wings' armored car up to Parise's summer home in Minnesota and hope there's enough in there. As for acquiring him at the deadline if he's in play? Devils would want young talent under contract or top prospects. That's my guess. Doesn't make sense to deal with Datsyuk or Zetterberg if that was the asking price.
Patrick Marleau - most underrated player in the league!
Alex; One of them. Very quiet guy so his personality doesn't scream for attention. And he, like many Sharks, had struggled in the playoffs and that contributed to the lack of profile. But his point totals are more than impressive. That'll change if the Sharks, as my colleague Pierre LeBrun believes will happen, march to their first Cup win next June.
If marc staal is out for a long while are the rangers gonna keep young or trade for a veteran to stabalize the def
Rob; They have been looking for some time for a verteran guy and that was before Staal had his setbacks during camp. Very picky, though, weren't interested in Bryan McCabe or Paul Mara, or not interested enough to get a deal done. Surprised that Chris Campoli ended up in Montreal but look for them to do something sooner than later as it looks like Staal could be awhile.
I had heard that Crosby may be cleared for contact today (NHL.com)... Do you think that there's a chance that he might be able to play during the Oct. 18 game against the Wild? (I have tickets...)
Colezy; Seems to be some confusion on the Crosby/doctor stuff today. I am told will meet with docs later this week but for regular visit not something out of the ordinary. No sense yet on when he'll be cleared for contact but my sense is that he will return to action shortly after that he won't practice a long time after being cleared because the best way to figure this out will be in live action. Plus he's been participating at a high level for so long it's not like conditioning should be an issue.
See that pass by Steit the other day? Great to have him back...60 pts this year - mark it down!
Jack; Streit's importance to the Isles can't be overstated. Offensively he's a top puck-mover and power play guy but he also has a calming personality that will be important for a young Isles team that thinks it can jump into the playoff discussion this season.
Craig Anderson has been left out to dry thus far. Can he keep it together mentally and start standing on his head? looks like he will need to.
Tim; Yes, not an auspicious start for Anderson or the Sens whom many (including me) expect to be at the very bottom of the NHL standings this season. Chicken/egg thing with Anderson, though, needs more help from his teammates but also needs to play better himself. Does one lead to the other? Sens hope so.
Scott, the Hawks are looking at multiple attacking options for forwards and have many prospects either going to be sent to juniors or left out of the mix....Any chance the hawks use those prospects and make a move mid season for a big contract .....say a Staal or Gaborik
Eric; The one thing about the 'Hawks having to at least partially dismantle the '10 Cup winner was that GM Stan Bowman has assembled a nice collection of picks and prospects that put him in a nice position to make additions at the trade deadline if need be. My guess is that he will give a number of those kids in Rockford ample opportunity to make an impact if spots open up in Chicago during the season before packaging them off for a proven player. As for who might be available way too early to tell.
Scott: How do you feel about the Blue Jackets? Do you think they have the team to steal a playoff spot in the West or do they need something else? (I know the powerplay is horrendous)
John; I'm not optimistic for the Blue Jackets again this season and wasn't even before they opened 0-3. They've scored just six times and blew a lead against Vancouver Monday in one of those games that you just have to get points from. I don't see how they don't finish last in the Central a million miles from a playoff spot.
Do you think Jeff Skinner will have the sophmore slump this year? Or do you think he is the next captain of the 'Canes?
Jason; Good question. Sometimes those kids that do well at 18 or 19 as rookies take a step back because the dynamic is different as a sophomore, more of a grind, harder to stay dedicated to conditioning, getting rest etc. Will Skinner be one of them? He seems like one of those rare hockey kids that really does get it all so maybe not. 'Canes need to get it going, though, to avoid their annual slow start that makes a playoff berth so difficult.
Hey, how do you misread Weber as Parise? The Wings fan asked how they get Weber, not Parise.
Matt; What a blunder on my part. Thanks for pointing it out. Shea Weber, clearly, a different story as he will be a restricted free agent next summer. So, the Wings will have to wait at least a year before backing up Red Wing armored car and pouring cash at Weber on July 1 in the hopes of adding him to the roster.
Let's get some love for the Western conference. What are your thoughts on who's gonna take the Pacific Division? I know everyone is saying San Jose or LA, and being a Kings fan I personally hope it is them. What about the Ducks though? Crazy good top line and it finally looks like they might have some legitimate scoring depth this year. Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa also appear to be progressing extremely well in their own end this year.
Jay; Interesting division although it's hard to imagine the Sharks won't own it given their depth up and down the line-up. Antti Niemi's rebounding from off-season surgery may be a small hiccup. As for Ducks assuming Jonas Hiller stays healthy you're right, lots of positives for the Ducks especially once Teemu Selanne gets into a groove. Have expectations ever been higher for the Kings especially given their strength down the middle? First month or so will be crucial for them, I think, in terms of asserting themselves as a potential Pacific champ.
How will the long road trip to start the season affect the Lightning? Will it be beneficial later when they have more home games?
Jeff; Bolts play five in a row on the road and don't open at home til the 17th. Didn't look good against Boston and last night's shootout loss to Washington was a wild one. Still, this is the kind of early-season trip lots of coaches like for team-building and chemistry and collecting a few points along the way won't hurt either.
Scott, who is the best player in the league? (i wouldn't be mad if you said Datsyuk)
Nick; I don't think you'd be far off with Datsyuk. Interesting that during a series of interviews in New York with the top players in the game we asked each one who they'd pay money to see. Some gave several names and Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin got lots of nods but every single one mentioned Datsyuk. We told him that and he seemed genuinely touched. Great, great talent, important part of that locker room.
What do you think of Luke Adam? Does he have a legit chance of winning the Calder?
TP; I noticed my colleague Pierre LeBrun raised this possibility in the Power Rankings. Let's just say I think even a two goal, two assist performance in his first two games is darned impressive it's a little early to talk Calder.
Yeehaw Bruins!!! However, what is it going to take to get these guys legs moving every night? They have the talent to power through many teams but just don't sometimes... Ugg. Also, what's your over/under on Marchand getting 35 goals?
Justin; Again I think it's too early to be talking Stanley Cup hangover but that's the challenge after such a long playoff run and a celebration-soaked summer, getting the energy/copmete level back. Hard to do. As for Marchand I'd say under but 25 to 30 would be a reasonable total. Someone else from NH asked about Tyler Seguin and I think he's a guy that should have tons of energy and will be important for stepping forward and maybe helping shake off the hangover, so to speak.
After two games, are the leafs who you thought they were?
RD; Well, the Leafs did win thier first four games last season but going 2-0 isn't anything to sneer at. Nearly blowing that lead Saturday against Ottawa was a bit scary but that happens sometimes when you're miles ahead. Still the Leafs' sked is pretty soft as they have Calgary, Colorado and Winnipeg all at home before they hit the road. Like to see the team's special teams at the end of that five-game stretch.
So far so good for Kari Lehtonen, changing your mind about the Stars? They'll certainly need to score more than they currently are though. (and yesterdays game was 1) mid afternoon on a holiday most people have to work on and 2) during the Rangers - Tigers playoff game that was supposed to go on the day before, so its not as bad as it appears...yet.) Thanks
Sam; Good point on the dynamics re attendance yesterday. As for Kari Lehtonen the issue for me has always been his ability to deliver quality starts on a consistent basis throughout a season. That's what guys like Luongo, Lundqvist, Thomas have done to establish themselves as elite netminders. The Stars have little chance to make the playoffs if Lehtonen can't do that. Historically he has faded and/or become injured as the season has worn on.
Loved the Canucks win last night...slow start but got the W. Do you think they've got the depth to make it to the Cup Finals again?
Greg; Yes. Depth isn't really their issue although I get that they were pretty banged up by the final last June. The question, much like the Bruins, is whether they have the mental toughness and stamina to get back to the final again. That's a tougher one in my mind.
Lucic/Boychuk/#1 pick for Parise, is that enough for NJ to say yes?
Marc; I would say no. Great deal for Peter Chiarelli if he can get that done. Don't see if though.
with all the moves madein the ATLANTIC divison who do feel made out the best the rangers with richards or philly with illa
Paul; Hard to answer because the Richards deal will be crucial for the Rangers to first making the playoffs and then, they hope, establishing positioning in the grid. The Flyers, in my mind, were a lock to make the playoffs even without Bryzgalov and his value to the team will only be truly evaluated come April. Still those moves along with the Isles, Pens and Devils are part of the reason I think the Atlantic is the toughest place to play in the league.
Hey Scott, I caught the Pens-Oilers game the other night and although I'm a Pens fan, Hall and RNH looked real good together. What do you expect from them this year?
Pat; Caught the end of that game as well and was impressed with how the young Oilers hung tough and tied that game late. Hall and Nugent-Hopkins looked good. Will be interesting to track NH the next nine games before the Oilers have to decide whether to send him back to junior. Any chance they have of making a surprise bid for the playoffs will be determined by health and the ability of all those kids to take on significant leadership roles. Tough to ask of teenagers.
Okay. Time to split. Thanks all as always. Let's do it again next week.