Greetings all. Eventful weekend in the NHL and looking forward to kicking all puck matters around for the next hour. So, where were we?
Scott, any rumors around the ownership issue in the desert? all is quiet here, anything brewing behind the scenes? Tippett seems to have the team finding their identity, would be a shame to derail any momentum......
sean; All is quiet vis a vis ownership of the Coyotes. The NHL's Board of Governors meets in California in less than a month and you can bet the owners are going to want to know where this situation is at. My guess is that without an owner in place by early January they will move quickly to identify a new location and begin relocation proceedings. And you're right about the 'Yotes. Kudos to Sean Burke who has helped Mike Smith make the Coyotes and their fans forget Ilya Bryzgalov at least for the time being.
I think the weak link on the Blackhawks is in the net, can the Hawks contend for the cup with Crawford as the main guy?
Don; I would respectively suggest the problem for the 'Hawks is their power play. What gives with that? 28th overall and one of three teams with efficiency under 10%. I think Crawford's been pretty darned good actually and the fact Coach Quenneville seems to have little confidence in Ray Emery is interesting moving forward.
what do you make of Miller getting benched in favor of Enroth? Enroth has looked realy strong in his starts this year
kurt; It's been the autumn of the back-up, no? Josh Harding, Brian Elliott, Mathieu Garon et al have all played well in relief of higher profile starters and Enroth has been part of that group. Kudos to Lindy Ruff for going back to Enroth in back-to-back games. I think it's important for players to see that strong play does have its rewards. No one expects this to last long and you know Ryan Miller is smart enough to know this isn't a slight against him. Still, must be nice to know you've got a guy that can answer the bell when need be.
Scott, how would you fix the Hurricanes' issues (lack of effort/drive and no chemistry)? Is this on Maurice or Staal? I had some hope at the beginning of the season, but it's slowly fading...
Paul; I spoke to Jim Rutherford not long ago and he was optimistic after that first big road trip that they'd be able to make some hay once they got home but they've been pretty awful of late. PP is ranked 22nd, 19th on the PK. Eric Staal off to slow start. I know Rutherford is looking to make some changes but he's not going to be looking to deal any of the nice collection young players he's assembled there so my sense is that the changes will have to come from within. For me the killer is the team defense something the 'Canes were hoping to improve on this season. Tied with Toronto for 28th overall. No one makes the playoffs giving up 3.29 goals a game, sorry.
Looks like the B's are starting to turn it around...Thoughts on Seguin's development...Thanks...
Guy; I'd like to see the Bruins beat up on someone other than Toronto before I give them the 'all clear' on the Stanley Cup hangover. But you're right. Better of late and Seguin is a huge part of that. Most people figured he would be important to helping the Bruins' keep the energy level up and he's got five goals and an assist in his last six games. Really seems to be more comfortable in his role now, more mature. Good news for the Bs that's for sure.
When is the ownership going to make a change in Columbus? As a Flyers fan, sure, I liked the whooping the other night. But it stinks to see a team like the CBJ struggle so much. When is enough enough?
Joe; I watched that game with my hands over my eyes. That's as ugly a performance as I've seen in a long time. Blue Jackets don't play til Thursday but you wonder, apart from letting Ken Hitchcock go to St. Louis, ownership's plan is. This is way more than Scott Arniel, though. Poor play, poor contracts, bad luck with injuries, mediocre goaltending, if it can go wrong it's gone wrong for the Blue Jackets in the first month. Maybe ownership rides out a couple of more and hopes Jeff Carter getting back (likely Thursday) will help move the dial a bit. They are, of course, cooked, though.
I know it's still early in the season, but do you see any front-runners for the Hart this year?
Mel; I was thinking about that the other day. Pretty early but have to look at Steven Stamkos really starting to get rolling. And can you imagine if Phil Kessle can stay near the top of both points/goal-scoring races and the Leafs are a playoff team. Hard to picture that happening but Kessel has been huge thus far. And you can't forget the Sedins who have 18 points apiece and helping the Canucks start to turn a corner.
Oilers question. How do you think they will perform in the 4 remaining games of their current 6 game road trip after losing in Phoenix? (@Montreal, @Boston, @Detroit & @Chicago) And what do the Oilers do with Hemsky near returning?
Jamie; Hemsky remains one of those great enigmas, no? Can he stay healthy for more than a week? If so he helps takes the pressure off the kids and guys like Smyth and Horcoff who've been terrific offensively. Talked to Tom Renney last week and he acknowledged these road trips (10 of 12 away from home when they started in L.A. last week) was a great benchmark. For me it's how they bounce back from a tough game like the Phoenix loss. Still played well but didn't get the result. Can they get their level of play back up against both quality and hungry opponents like Habs and Boston? Detroit has struggled but you know they can turn it on and of course Chicago is strong regardless of their PP issues. I said if they go .500 in terms of collecting points on this trip they'll be in a good spot. I think that's doable.
if the stars mange to pull out wins on the rest of their road trip vs the capitals, penguins and red wings, do you FINALLY give them legitimate contender status? Barnaby last week said he still thinks they are a bottom of the barrel team.
ian; I've been giving the Stars love since the start of the season and I think they're second or third in Pierre LeBrun's Power Rankings this week. Great stories there in Sheldon Souray, Kari Lehtonen and Loui Eriksson. And Glen Gulutzan has to be in the early running for the Jack Adams.
Scott, is 11/11/11/ the day the 8/7/87 returns?
Chief; No word from Pittsburgh today that would indicate one way or another. Everyone I've talked to is waiting and waiting. Crosby told reporters he is neither ruling Friday in or out. But this is a good week, one would think, for him to get in the kind of high level, phyiscal practices that he requires given that they don't play until Friday vs. Dallas.
What do you think of the play of Adam Henrique in New Jersey? It seems like Josefson going down was a blessing in disguise for the Devils.
John T; Well, sure Pete DeBoer would like to have all his bodies especially his centers, back in the rotation but Henrique has made the most of his opportunities. It's a cliche but that's what coaches are looking for when an opportunity presents itself; can a player elevate his game, play with quality players, seize the moment. Good for Henrique and it gives DeBoer more confidence to use him in those kinds of situations (PP, with Kovalchuk and/or or Parise) even when his roster isn't left lean by injuries.
How about the Wild's mostly rookie blueline? Guys like Scandella, Spurgeon, Falk and Prosser are playing big minutes and impressing while the older players are out with injuries (Zanon, Lundin, and Stoner). The team has actually gotten better with the younger players. Will the Wild's defensive game come back to earth or do the Wild have a promising enough D corp to make a playoff push?
John; Terrific stretch for the Wild who have won four in a row and have given up just 26 goals in 13 games. Kudos to Josh Harding, of course, who has answered the bell in goal but you're right that young blue line has really helped when you might have wondered if the team would struggle without more experience. Remember talking to Chuck Fletcher during training camp about how he was hoping Scandella and Spurgeon would help plug the hole created by the trade of Brent Burns. So far so good, no?
Do you trust Niemi to turn it around in SJ? Thomas Greiss has been awfully good in limited playtime thus far.
Ben; I think this is just a function of a guy that missed training camp and the exhibition season and not quite hitting his stride yet. No doubt he'll be able to get back to his previous level of play. Should have mentioned Greiss earlier in this chat as one of the back-ups that has played well when pressed into service.
OK. I understand the Red Wings lost six in a row. But all teams go through stretches. You can't tell me that you and LeBrun actually believe Detroit is only the 19th - or 17th for you last week - best team in the NHL...
Cam; Great thing about the Power Rankings is that they're based on current level of play (more or less) and the Wings as of today are 20th in the NHL. Will they stay there? It would be a mighty shock if they did. Have they looked like junk until the other night against Anaheim? Yes. At least offensively, they've been off the rails. I think they're where they should be. Big question is how big a jump they make by the time I get around to the PRs next Monday.
Can we all celebrate the return of Nick Backstrom to top form?
Sam; Great point. One of my training camp stops was Washington (okay, technically Arlington) and spoke to Backstrom about his miserable season last year and he was contrite and spoke about understanding the need to be better. Wow, even with Ovechkin off to a slow for him start Backstrom looks like the player he was before being weighted down by that monster contract. Good for him. Good for the Caps.
Scott, any predictions on 1 vs. 2 (in the latest power rankings) tomorrow night in DC?
Jeff; That's a good one. In fact might even be our 'game of the week' on the site. Look for Michal Neuvirth to get the start (my guess at this point) and edge Mr. Lehtonen et al in a shootout. 3-2.
Hi Scott! What is your take on The Sharks latest winning streak? Are the pieces finally fitting?
Chris; Well, actually they lost in overtime in their last outing but I assume you're talking the five-game road winning streak (they've actually won six of eight)and yes, I think they're getting all of those moving piecse headed in the right direction. Spoke with Martin Havlat last week who missed all of camp and the start of the regular season and he's important for that group to help take the pressure off that top line.
How can the sens turn around their season, I think Alfie needs to retire, but the net is always the week point, who do you think would be a good fit there?
Joe; Well, I think the Sens have actually fared pretty well compared to where most people predicted they'd be which is scraping the bottom of the NHL barrel. I've got all kinds of time for Alfredsson who still brings it every night. Interesting with his current injury to see how long it takes for him to bounce back. As for netminding, Craig Anderson (and the rest of the goaltending crew) haven't had all that much help on some nights especially early on. Very young blue line that I know head coach Paul MacLean is hoping will accelerate their learning curve. Could be way worse in the Canadian capital.
Scott, after a month into the season, do you think the Flyers have a legitimate shot at winning the Cup?
Tyler; Sure. Loads of offense and the goaltending, for all the worry about Ilya Bryzgalov and his walk in the woods, has been pretty decent. For me, any talk of the Cup, starts and stops with Chris Pronger. If he's back and healthy (looks like he's getting closer) the Flyers are a force. Without him, don't think that blue line stacks up in terms of a long playoff run.
Any team out there need a veteran goalie? We have one ready to be traded for a 2nd round pick.
Garth; I see reports that Evgeni Nabokov, the netminder to whom you refer, will start tonight versus the Bruins. I must admit I don't get the whole plan there on Long Island. Nabokov, Rick DiPietro and whatever happened to Al Montoya? Give the kid a break and let him play. But guessing you're going to play Nabokov until you can move him. Fair enough. Of course you might be out of the playoff race by then, but, whatever, that's what happens when you willfully carry three goaltenders; chaos.
Please tell me as an Avalanche fan Sacco is the next to get canned...
James; Can't answer that but it is strange how the Avs cannot seem to get their act together on home ice (they are 1-5-0 at home as opposed to 6-1-1 on the road, go figure). I know Sacco has said he thinks the Avs try and get too cute at home something that often afflicts teams, the desire to put on a show for the home fans. Big picture the Avs have to be happy with their start but there is no doubt pressure on Sacco to get his team to be more consistent when it comes to play at home. As for next coach over the side? Hard to imagine it won't be Scott Arniel in Columbus but one never knows, right?
What's going on with Dubinsky? Guy can't buy a goal for anything and last night it seemed like his teammates were really trying to help him get an empty-netter at the end there (which Gaborik got instead).
ASN: Yes, very slow start for Dubinsky who has yet to dent the twine in 13 outings. Wow. After scoring 24 in 77 games last year Rangers counting on him to be a big part of their secondary scoring behind Richards and Gaborik. Got to figure it will come but you wonder if the pressure or expectations are hampering his ability to finish.
Scott, what do you think will happen with Minnesota's goaltending 'controversy'??? If Harding continues to excel, do you think that he could replace Backstrom as number one? Or will Minnesota trade one of them?
Phoebe; Don't see Chuck Fletcher trading either goalie (not sure there's a market for Backstrom right now) but my sense is that the Wild don't have the luxury of simply letting Backstrom playing out of his funk. And with Harding playing as well as he has it's going to put more pressure on Backstrom to make a statement when he does get a chance. Interesting dynamic moving forward. Good for Harding, though, who's never been able to seize the moment like this before. Don't think the Wild mind how much money in salary is sitting on the end of the bench as long as the Ws keep piling up.
With almost 20 games into the season, what's your assessment of the Flyers trades ( LA and Columbus)?? They get the best of both of these trades?
Brad; Early on it's hard to argue against the Flyers getting the upper hand in both deals. Carter, of course, has been hurt with a foot injury, so that's made a bad situation in Columbus worse. And Mike Richards has only two oals but 10 points in L.A. where the Kings have gone a bit sideways. That's a deal, like the Bryzgavlov signing frankly, that wasn't made for October/November, though, but for April/May. Flyers will be there. Will the Kings? They should be. That'll be time to more accurately assess that deal.
is boudreau done if the caps don't get to at least the ECF's?
Chu; Depends on what happens but I think the Caps will be among the final four next spring.
Okay folks, thanks as always for the time and the questions. Let's do it again next week. Cheers.