Happy Hallowe'en all. Welcome back. So, where were we?
They start off beating SJ twice and now lose to Columbus after a rough stretch. Tell me the Ducks are better than this!
Alex; The Ducks are better than this. Feel better? Seriously just one of those stretches. Too good in goal and too deep up front for this to continue. Although ranking 29th in goals per game is a bit perplexing. Remember last season how long it took the Ducks to get going; it wasn't until November that the team showed some consistency.
What are you reading into Lundqvist last of concentration/confidence in the net so far this year? The Rangers are definitely missing Staal, but some goals he is letting in is just not like him.
JJ; There is a definite feel around the entire team of not being entirely in sync, no? Lundqvist is a class guy though and his teammates have to respect how he takes responsibility for his own miscues. Not every goalie will do that. The thing with Lundqvist is that you know he'll get better. Lots of other elements of the Ranger game, specifically the lack of grittiness that characterized their play through most of last year, that I think are more troubling at this point in time.
Scott: Great chat. To expoud on something I asked you last week about the jackets, what do you thing of these rumors here that the GM and coach could be out and that Hitchcock and Button have been contacted as the coach and Gm to clean this mess up? Any truth to these whispers and do you think it is necessary to clean house with this team?
Bill; Thanks. Spoke to both Ken Hitchcock and Craig Button (at least electronically) and both insisted they had not been contacted about taking over in Columbus. I think the rumors are a function of the extreme pressure current management/coaching staff are under to produce a winner. A lot of dead air in Columbus and the fan base as you know deserves a lot better than they've received. The next week or so will be interesting as they don't play until Thursday but then have Toronto, Philly and Chicago all teams playing pretty well. Anything less than two wins out of three and that might be the tipping point for ownership to demand a sacrifice. Usually that means the coach first (unless you're Montreal and you fire the assistant but I digress.)
Do you think Jacob Markstrom is going to be the "number 1" goalie in Florida from here on out?
Vince; Actually pretty sure I read this morning that Jose Theodore will get the nod tonight vs. Winnipeg. And it appears Scott Clemmensen has started to skate again so interesting decisions for Dale Tallon coming up. Markstrom needs to play so my guess is that when Clemmensen is healthy Markstrom will go back down. But he's played very well and it's encouraging to know that the advance billing may prove to be true.
Sure, Phil Kessel's really good, but is there any way can he keep up this torrid pace? Can Connelly & Lupul stay on the ice the whole season with him? This line is devastating!
Gene; Say hello to Gretzky if Kessel does keep up this current pace (10 goals, 18 points both tops in the league). And no, he won't. But where is his top end? 40 goals? 50? Great start for a guy that's had plenty of critics in his short career. Remember talking to a GM who said he'd absolutely do the Kessel for the draft picks deal when it was first rumored. Said Kessle is a rare asset, a young player you know can score. As for his line-mates well that's another story given the lack of durability Connolly has historically shown. And Lupul has shown to be pretty streaky, too. Still, far better start for all concerned in Toronto than many (anybody?) had predicted. Good for a town that's been without a playoff team since the lockout.
What is wrong with Chicago's powerplay? They would break the top 5 if they can only get it going.
JBW; Weird, no? Balanced scoring, great goaltending, nice mix on the blue line but it's one of those things that seems to be as much mental as physical at this point when it comes to the power play. My hunch is that with four of five on the road after tonight's home date with Nashville they'll start to snap out of it.
Does Kyle Turris play before Dec 1st?
Seth; Great question. Feel bad for the kid if he ends up sitting out the season. But what we know of GM Don Maloney is that he isn't a guy to back down and if Turris won't sign in Phoenix - even if it is with an eye to trading him at some point - he will be waiting a long, long time before returning to the NHL. Just a guess? I say he is back with the 'Yotes by Dec. 1. Just a guess though.
Seguin is looking like the real deal...could he be a Stamkos like player for the bruins?
saracin; Agree Seguin is one of the lone bright spots for the Bruins as they try and shake off the post-Stanley Cup rust. Stamkos? Well, different situation for Stamkos in Tampa as he had a ton of high end offensive help in the form of Martin St. Louis who has been instrumental in mentoring him plus Vincent Lecavalier and a nice fit with good buddie Steve Downie. I think the dynamics are different in Boston so I think 40 to 50 goals is likely a bit of a stretch at least in the short term.
Any chance of Crosby coming back this week with the 5 days off the Pens have and the chance to get in some practice?
Jim; Nope. In fact Pens have said he won't play in either west coast game this week (L.A. and San Jose) but the big question is whether he takes the time between then and Nov. 11, the next game a home date with Dallas, to get in the full-contact practices he needs and makes his long-awaited appearance then. I'm circling Nov. 11 and rest assured there will be a ton of speculation between now and then.
Stars...Am I reading them correctly or will they fall like last year? Richards gone but more depth and team has chemistry.
Disney; Spoke with GM Joe Nieuwendyk last week and he was talking about the size and snarl on the blue line (Sheldon Souray being the chief addition) that's helped the team defense. Nice balance up front but for me (and the Stars no doubt) the key is Kari Lehtonen. Is he durable enough? Can he provide enough consistent starts to keep the Stars in the hunt in the Pacific? If yes then they're going to make it very interesting in the west. If he falters - as he has in the past - then even the playoffs aren't a given.
In your opinion what is wrong with Halak? Do you see him getting back to where he needs to be to be the everyday guy?
Tinker; Weird start for Halak, that's for sure. And thank goodness for Brian Elliott, no? I didn't think Halak was all that comfortable last season but with all the injuries it was hard to get a handle on the entire team. This year with the high expectations and the balance up front and veteran contributions from guys like Jason Arnott it's really put the spotlight on Halak's less than impressive play (that and the woeful power play). Blues are in a position that they'll have to ride the hot hand and that may mean Elliott gets a chance to take over full-time. You'd have got pretty good odds if you'd bet Elliott over Halak in starts in Vegas at the start of the season.
The Leafs have had a good start to the season but does Burke try to move a defenceman in the next month? Franson is sitting in the pressbox with Aulie in the AHL. Many teams would be happy to add a defenceman don't you think?
Luke; True the Leafs do have a glut of defensemen but let's assume they don't come completely crashing to earth and they're going to be in the hunt for a post-season berth one thing Vancouver GM Mike Gillis showed in recent years is that you simply cannot have enough blue line depth. It hurt the Canucks in 2010 and last year went to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final (where you could argue they could have used a couple of more blue liners with injuries and suspensions). So, unless it's a deal to bring in a top-9 forward who can contribute right away I'll be surprised if Brian Burke moves too quickly to trade away that depth.
If the Bruins continue to struggle could you seem them possibly dealing Thomas and getting some assets for the future?
Timmy; Don't see it. Still early and the Bruins can easily get back into the hunt in the Northeast. The slow start hasn't been a function of bad goaltending, either.
Buy or sell: Mike Green is the most important piece to the Caps' Stanley Cup puzzle?
Joshy; Not sure I buy that. Would it be interesting to see a healthy Green play at his best in the post-season? Sure. But lots of other parts that have to come together for Caps to realize their Cup goal. With emergence of Alzner/Carlson and the addition of Wideman and Hamrlik less pressure on Green to be all things every night. Maybe that's the key.
As maybe the only Oilers fan in Florida, I'm very pleased with the young Oils' start to the season. But I need to be realistic. Can they really keep this up all year, contend for the playoffs?
Tony; Oilers keep playing like they have been and fans will come out of the woodwork all over the place. Big test coming up as the Oil will play 10 of 12 on the road. Great to see this young team, though, as they've won five in a row and are shocking fans, prognosticators and opposing teams on a nightly basis. This trip will say a lot about this young team, though, as it will be harder to get the matchups they want and the young kids will face a more difficult task. Big test of Nikolai Khabibulin, too, as they'll need him even more than during the first month when he's been playing out of his mind (first star of the week the NHL announced today). Stay tuned.
Oops. Khabibulin second star this week. Carey Price first star (Jaromir Jagr third).
Are the Red Wings regretting not pursuing Jagr more at this point in the season?
Adam; Maybe. Of course lose four straight and get waxed while doing it may produce a lot of angst and regrets. Jagr sort of faded out of contact with the Wings and Pens, though, so it's not as though the pursuit wasn't strong enough. Weird stretch for Wings who have just one player, Johan Franzen, with more than two goals (he has four). Got to believe the Wings will get untracked. Too much talent for it not to happen.
True or false, player that needs to step their game up the most on the New York Rangers in order to break this funk is... Brandon Dubinsky?
Pat; Well, plenty of blame to go around for a pretty tepid start to the season but Dubinsky, zero goals, 3 assists in nine games, has to be better. For me he and Ryan Callahan are the guys that have to be driving the Ranger bus as they did last season when they were healthy. The whole black and blue mentality comes from them. It will be interesting to see what John Tortorella does with the lines tonight vs. San Jose as he split up Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik presumably to get more out of Callahan and Dubinsky. Worked. Sort of. Until the Rangers blew that 4-1 lead against the Sens on Saturday.
Any word if the NHL is going to use the same format for the all star game as last season?
street; If you mean will the players draft their own teams I believe that will indeed be the case in Ottawa. Maybe Daniel Alfredsson captaining one team and Jason Spezza the other? Could be fun.
If you were able to pick only 1 player to watch in the NHL today, who would it be?
JD; I would go with Pavel Datsyuk. We asked about 20 top players in the fall that very question and while many mentioned Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby every single one said Datsyuk. Pretty impressive.
Are the Rangers better with or without Avery? Assuming he clears waivers, will he stick around long enough to be showcased on 24/7?
Mike; I'm assuming HBO put in the waiver move themselves just to ensure some sparks for their filming. It'll be weird to see assuming Avery will clear waivers how John Tortorella uses him. Maybe he's the guy that somehow gets this team back into the frame of mind we saw for most of last season.
With the devils lack of depth at center, along with the injuries to zajac and josefson, (also there lack of scoring) will they make a trade for a center that can play on the top two lines?
Mat; Easier said than done but I'm sure Lou Lamoriello is looking to get better down the middle. Ryan Carter isn't really the answer but that's why you've heard rumors that the Devils would be interested in Kyle Turris (see below). Problem is there aren't many top six centers available and if there were the price tag might be higher than what the Devils would like to pay. Tough spot.
Does Keith Yandle have another All-Star-worthy season?
Scott; Sure. He's got seven points (1 goal, 6 assists) and he is a guy that will have to continue to evolve if the 'Yotes are going to make another surprise run to the playoffs. But he seems to have grown into that role pretty much now, I don't think you'll see much backsliding. That's not really in the cards if you're playing for Dave Tippett.
one month into the season, what is your biggest surprise?
LJ; Can I give you a couple? The play of the Oilers, Leafs and Senators. Take a look at their combined records over the past two weeks. Pretty impressive for teams that most thought would be cannon fodder all year. Surprised at how poorly Boston has played even though I anticipated some Stanley Cup hangover. And surprised at Roberto Luongo's numbers and the angst in Vancouver over his and the team's start.
Any news on when Markovs comes back for Habs?
Rob; Last I heard he was still rehabbing in Florida. Habs could sure use him even though they somehow managed to win three in a row.
Whats up with the Bryz? Philly spends all this money on goaltending and its been terrible for the most part.
Steve; Pretty up and down start for Mr. Bryzgalov. Flyers announced today they are restricting his access to media which suggests there is more than a little concern about his mental state. Still, he was brought in to win games in April and May not necessarily October and November. He'll get adjusted. Now, if he plays like this next spring you have my permission to blow a gasket. You and everyone else in Flyer Nation.
Okay folks. Thanks as always for taking the time to drop by. Let's do it again next week.