Hello all. Welcome back to another puck session. So, where were we?
Are my Devils for a real, or is this a fluke?
Matt; Terrific start for the Devils especially with Martin Brodeur sidelined with a shoulder injury. Guess Lou Lamoriello knew what he was doing sticking with Johan Hedberg as his back-up. Was looking at the stats today and Ilya Kovalchuk playing more minutes than any other forward by a country mile. Adam Larsson looks like the real deal. As always wonder if there's enough offense and if the blue line can keep pace long-haul but a much better start than many (okay, than I had) imagined.
Scott.... How can you have the Blackhawks at 19???? I understand losing a game at home (al be it in a shootout) but this is a fairly harsh drop from last week?
Jason; It is only the third week so pretty sure it's not a permanent thing. Still their five points puts them anywhere between 13th and 18th in terms of production. Plus I punished them for blowing a lead at home.
Will Minnesota ever begin to have more consistent scorning? They at least seem to want to shoot more this year. What do you think their playoff chances are? Thanks
Todd; Hard to get a handle on where the Wild are at at this point. The top line (Setoguchi, Heatley and Koivu) need to produce more but the blue line has been solid and the goaltending pretty good. Bouchard's return from suspension should help as that 'second' line looked good through camp at in the first days of the regular season. I picked the Wild to sneak into 8th in the west and won't be wavering on that. At least not right now.
Although the bruins record shows them below .500, I still see flashes of brilliance between their first and second lines. even their third line. The team just knows eachother so well, and Seguin and Marchand are off to a hot start. How do you feel about the bruins?
Harrington; The one good thing for the Bruins, apart from having won a Cup in June, is that they know each other so well. The slow start isn't about getting to know each other so much as getting back into a mental groove (my humble opinion). And the Bruins' strength is in their depth. Seguin should have lots of energy and Marchand, with his new deal, has lots to prove and both should provide a nice jolt to a locker room that's going to have to deal with the after-effects of winning a championship.
Hi Scott. Is it time to start pannicking in Habland yet? Are they just trying to tread water until Markov gets healthy or are there fundamental problems with the roster that they did not anticipate?
Bill; No one (except perhaps Columbus) should be panicking with the season less than two weeks old. That said I wasn't sure about the Habs heading into the season and Markov's continued absence with his knee issues is a major problem. They invested a lot in Erik Cole and he has one assist and in my opinion isn't a guy that's necessarily going to respond to the inevitable pressure of playing in a market like Montreal. Scott Gomez likewise has one assist after an off-season during which he vowed to be better. Still way too early to wonder about playoffs but enough troubling signs to suggest getting there isn't going to be a cakewalk.
Hopefully this league will start to take notice of John Tavares' hot start. He is playing like a franchise player, playing alongside a waiver-wire pick-up and a career minor leaguer.
Alan; The Isles are one of the early feel-good stories of this season and Tavares looks like he's ready to take that big step into elite status. Talked to him in New York before the season and he just seemed like a different person, more self-confident, assured. If he can avoid those long dry spells he's going to make things interesting in the scoring race.
Will the Governers meeting in Dec. be the final word on any Conference reallignment in 2012?
Bryan; Board of Governors meet in Pebble Beach in early December and that will be a hot topic but not sure it will be the 'final' word. Much will depend on what the situation is in Phoenix at that time. The assumption is, though, that the Dec. meetings will take us a long way toward a final decision. Good to remember that it takes 20 or 2/3 majority to pass any realignment resolution.
I keep reading (including comments from you) that the Devils are going to trade Parise this season. On what are hockey writers basing this assumption? The only quotes from Parise are about how he wants to say, and I don't think Lou has ever talked about a deal before he made it. Are these rumors anything more than idle speculation?
Ed; The discussion is based on the fact Parise can become an unrestricted free agent next July and that a player of his value is often traded if his current team doesn't believe (or is told outright) that he won't be re-signing with them. Parise's value would be astronomical before the trade deadline if Lamoriello doesn't think he can get a deal done and if the Devils aren't in the playoff hunt. If they are in the hunt then it becomes more problematic for the Devils. Keep Parise and hope he will re-sign on or before July 1 or bite the bullet and watch him walk for free and hope there's a decent playoff run before he goes. Of course after Jan. 1 he could sign a long-term extension and all of this will be moot.
Hi Scott-Am I the only one who thinks Ryan O'Reily has been the Avs best player so far?
B-Diddy; Funny you should mention O'Reilly as my colleague Pierre LeBrun was talking with GM Greg Sherman in Toronto about his play. Sherman was touting O'Reilly's hockey smarts and his impact on rookie Gabriel Landeskog with whom he's play most of the season. He's been a big part of the Avs strong start (four straight wins). Goaltending's been good, too, though, and that's something that was missing (along with a million injuries) last season.
with the start ryan nugent hopkins is having there's no way the oilers send him down right?
ryan; Given the kid's start (hat trick versus Vancouver the other night) and the team's history of being willing to live with teenage development don't see Nugent-Hopkins going anywhere soon.
Greetings from Germany! With the games in Europe every year to promote the game, how realistic is a European NHL franchise? Are there plans of that sort, or is that a no-go for the NHL?
Fabian; Not sure those plans are close to becoming a reality but the NHL has worked hard to unearth revenue streams in Europe the last five or six years and I know the players' association wants to explore ways of increasing the game's exposure (and revenues which are split between owners and players) as well. The theory is that there isn't all that much difference between teams flying to the west coast for trips and heading to Europe for a road trip if there was a European division. My guess is that's still a long way into the future but the end of the current collective bargaining agreement next summer may bring that into sharper focus.
Pretty good game by Mabakov the other night. Do you see that solely as a trade bait move and which team(s) might be interested in trading for him
CoPoS; Interesting decision by Jack Capuano to go with Nabokov in the home game versus the hated Rangers but it paid off. Nabokov's future with the Isles I think will be dictated by Rick DiPietro's health (out with a concussion but started skating again). It looks like Al Montoya has the starting job as long as he produces quality starts and if DiPietro returns to some semblance of health then Nabokov would appear to be the odd man out and dangled as trade bait. But sure the Isles will want to get a good long look at DiPietro before they try and pull the trigger on a deal for Nabokov.
Any word on Malkin's knee? Could it be way more serious than they are letting on? possibly another surgery on the horizon?
Johnny; No idea if more surgery is needed but the fact he didn't join the team on their short trip west isn't a good sign. He looked so good in camp and in the first couple of games. Big blow to the Pens (obviously) if this is an ongoing issue. My sense is, like Crosby, the Pens will be ultra-cautious with Malkin given his importance come playoff time.
Whats with the Vancouver D this year? It isnt all on the goalies...
Toby; Agreed. The penalty kill has been soft, too. Team defense, top of the charts last season, has been off. Do they miss Christian Ehrhoff that much? Such a cliche but after such a long run in the playoffs it just takes time to get back in the zone mentally. Not an excuse but simply reality (see what's happening with the Bruins and even to Tampa after they went to Game 7 of the East Final).
Hey Scott, What do you think of the job Glen Guzatlan has done so far this year?
Freelooe; Who knew? Stars have been terrific and it's not just Kari Lehtonen although he's been almost perfect in goal. The question for him will be consistency as the season moves along. But given the almost complete lack of attention on this team coming into the season GM Joe Nieuwendyk couldn't have asked for a better start from his rookie head coach and the rest of the Stars.
Wilson-Legwand-Kostitsyn line has been great thus far...what are your thoughts? Has Legwand had this all along? Is Kostitsyn finally motivated? Is the kid Wilson for real?
Tom; As you know the Preds have been waiting for this kind of offense from David Legwand for, well, a long time. He has just once surpassed 25 goals in a season so this (eight points in four games) is pretty impressive. Kostitsyn, a playoff disappointment, is also important to the Preds' keeping pace offensively. Every year the Preds seem to find a player or two to wildly exceed expectation maybe this line will be it this season.
Talk of Big Buff switching positions...What changed from the first half of last year? He looks like he's never played D in his life
Jody; Yes, weird how the switch sort of went off about 35 games in last season. The Jets are struggling (needless to say) and they actually have decent depth along the blue line so if Claude Noel wanted to move Byfuglien back up front where, of course, he was a beast for Chicago in the '10 playoffs, he could make that switch. Bottom line is the team hasn't been very good at either end of the ice to start this season something Thrashers fans are sadly familiar with.
See that Richards pass to Gabby? Just a sign of things to come...if they can both stay healthy i see 80+ points each!
Jay; Agreed. Now, about the rest of the guys playing forward for the Rangers, might be nice if they showed up for the proceedings.
Drew Doughty gets hurt in his 3rd game, who steps up?
Toe; The good news for the Kings is that they are pretty deep along the blue line. Still, you have to wonder at missing camp and then getting hurt right away even if he does just miss the seven to 10 days they're predicting. Not a great way for your franchise defenseman to start off what is a crucial season for the team if not for him personally having signed that whopper new deal.
Do you think Jagr will play a full season? can he be a point per game guy? he has looked brilliant with giroux...thanks!
Dan; The guy's always been pretty durable and when I stopped in during training camp GM Paul Holmgren and some of the players were talking about how fanatical Jagr is about fitness and preparation. That's a good sign. If he's healthy and playing with top players as he is now and seeing lots of PP time 75 to 80 points isn't out of the question.
Scott,Do you base your power ranking on teams records right now? Buffalo being moved down to 7th behind Toronto, New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche is a joke.I guarantee the Sabres finish at least 15-20 points ahead of them in the standings this year.
Kevin; Current level of play. It would be boring to do it any other way.
The Detroit Redwings are off to a hot start, especially jiri hudler, do you see the wings making a serious run this year or do they need to up grade on forward and/or defence? is weber or priase a serious thought to be traded to them?
Rich; Wings have allowed just five goals in four games (all wins) although the offense isn't clicking on all cylinders just yet. Remember last training camp Mike Babcock riding Hudler about his 'Russian vacation' the previous season and it took him most of last year to get back into NHL mode. His contributions are huge. It will be interesting to see if Ian White can help fill the void created by Brian Rafalski's retirement. He's not the same guy but has played well early. As for Parise or Weber don't see that happening during the season. Wings will be in the hunt for sure if Parise goes to market. Weber will be a restricted free agent next summer barring a new deal.
Hey Scott, is Jeff Skinner gonna beat out Staal for scoring leader of the Canes?
Paul; That's a bit of a stretch for the kid as good as he is. My guess is if Skinner is out-pointing Eric Staal then the 'Canes are in trouble.
Great...Carter with a hairline fracture....looks like we are back to the days of Nash or Bust!
Jack; Good news is that it doesn't sound like Carter will miss many games. Bad news is the team's power play is terrible and Carter has yet to score. Wow. Pretty ugly start for a team that is desperate to gain some traction. I would imagine the panic meter at Nationwide Arena is approaching 'overload'.
Couple Coyotes questions here... How much longer do you think Turris will continue to hold out, and does Shane Doan's strong start spell some success for the Desert Dogs if he keeps it up?
Zack; Always happy to take 'Yotes questions that don't necessarily deal with ownership. Turris thing makes no sense. His contract demands are way out of line with common sense and it seems obvious he's trying to force GM Don Maloney's hand. But what is his value? Minimal. As for Doan's start, a nice surprise given that he has historically started slowly. Perhaps more important a couple of nice outings for Mike Smith and Jason Labarbera mixing in a win as well. Never count out Dave Tippett's boys, that's the lesson of the last of seasons, no?
scott,with crosby and malkin out do you think jordan staal can keep up the production he has shown thus far as the #1 center on the pens? or do you think this is just a situation where staal benefits from the injuries to the centers ahead of him on the depth chart?
brendan; As we saw last year with both Malkin and Crosby out long-term I think Jordan Staal's strengths are as a number-two center. Just not sure he's built to be a number-one offense-producing center. The Pens have always been better when at least Malkin or Crosby is producing as the top guy and Staal has been allowed to chip in while anchoring what has become one of the game's best penalty killing units.
Do you think Turris to the Devils is possible, and if so what would they have to give up
Matt; Turris's name has come up with a bunch of teams but unless he modifies his demands no one will deal for him because he is attractive only if a team thinks they can sign him. And if he will lower his demands for another team unless someone is going to give up a prime prospect or a top pick don't see Don Maloney knuckling under. Pressure grows on Turris as after Dec. 1 he can't play this season.
The Western Conference looks stacked again, which good teams do you see missing out on the playoffs this season ?
Guy; Agreed that the fight to finish in the top eight will again be fierce this season. Lots of folks (me included) thought St. Louis was ready to take a step back into the playoff mix and I figured the Coyotes would take a step out. But as we noted earlier Dave Tippett's teams can't be discounted and so there's pressure on the Blues to get on track early. The Avs' start also puts pressure on teams in the west as many assumed they'd be terrible from the word go. Not happening. So slow starts from San Jose and Vancouver take on added import. Not suggesting those teams won't be playoff teams but it means more work later in the season given strong early play from supposedly weaker teams. To answer your question though I took Phoenix out of my playoff bracket from a year a ago and Nashville and put Blues and Minnesota in. We'll see.
Okay folks. Thanks for all the queries as always. Let's do this again next week. Be well.