Hello all. Trust everyone had a safe and fulfilling Thanksgiving break. So, where were we?
Enjoyed your articles about the Canes the other week. What's your take on the coaching change? Do you anticipate Muller having an immediate impact like Hitchcock had with the Blues?
Bill; Thanks for your kind words. And I do think Muller is the kind of guy that will have an immediate impact. My guess is you'll see some more jump from Eric Staal - not necessarily a comment on Paul Maurice but simply change is likely to energize the team captain. The question will be whether Muller can get the 'Canes to elevate their level of play for more than the short-term. There are still lots of issues with the make-up of the team and coaching won't cure all of them.
What do you think of NYRs chances at a conference final berth (or possibly more) this year? Gaborik looks reborn, Richards is as advertised, Lundqvist off to best start of his career and defense will improve tremendously when Staal returns.
Alex; I think the Rangers' play of late suggests they can play with anyone in the conference. Pittsburgh looms large with Crosby. That goes without saying. Can the Rangers keep up with them or a healthy Flyer team over a seven-game series. I would say a final four berth is definitely possible but Lundqvist will have to have better post-season performances than in recent years for that to happen.
Has Dale Hunter ever gotten serious Head Coach consideration from another NHL team prior to today?
Chris; I know George McPhee and Dale Hunter are long-time friends and my sense is that Hunter had made it clear he was happy with his junior team in London which has been a roaring success. He said today Washington was the only reason he'd have left London so while there might have been inquiries I think this is where it was going to happen for Hunter if at all.
Boudreau and Maurice are gone and their teams had more wins than the Ducks. Any chance they get rid of Carlyle and/or Murray?
Alex; I will be surprised if there isn't a significant move surrounding the Ducks in the next two to three days. Trade? Maybe. But as we know big trades are hard to come by in this NHL so that would suggest Randy Carlyle's days are likely numbered in Anaheim.
With Schneider playing well for the Canucks, how much longer will Luongo starts again?
Ice Ace; I don't know that there's any timetable for Luongo's return but it makes for an interesting dynamic when he comes back given how Schneider has moved nicely into 'starter' mode even if it is short-term. Luongo's struggles prior to being injured will continue to be a storyline for the Canucks until he can get back into a groove. Could make for some uncomfortable days in Vancouver and some uncomfortable decisions for Alain Vigneault. Still, Luongo's job will be secure when he comes back. At least until April.
Wow. The Penguins aren't #1 in the Power Rankings this week. Are you feeling okay? Or did Pierre do the rankings?
Tom; No. I did them. Easy answer is that they're not deserving of the top spot. Not yet anyway. We'll see how Pierre likes them after this week.
Are the Capitals done making major moves? How active will they be before the trade deadline?
matt; I think a lot will depend on how quickly Dale Hunter gets the ship turned around. I have no doubt they will play better but the defense continues to be an issue and if Green remains in and out of the line-up and Hamrlik's play doesn't improve I will be shocked if George McPhee doesn't move to bolster the blue line. Plus there's the obvious potential for Alexander Semin to be dealt a kind of addition by subtraction move if the team continues to struggle.
What do you think of the Leafs so far? Playoffs this year? or hitting the links early again?
zack; For me the telling time has been in the last couple of weeks where instead of continuing to slide off the map the Leafs have righted the ship. I like them to hang around for the post-season dance. Not sure how long they'll last but at this stage any kind of playoff presence would be a bonus for Leaf Nation, no?
Lots of coaches have been fired mid season already...Will Terry Murray be next? His "system" as it's called around here is obviously hurting the Kings chances of even making the playoffs with the "dump and chase" mentality. How long is his leash? The Kings have too much talent to NOT be dominating the league.
Bucky; Agreed that the Kings are too good to be where they are in the standings currently flirting with a playoff spot. My sense is that Dean Lombardi will look at a variety of remedies before he fires Terry Murray that said your point is a good one and that is whether Murray's style fits a team with this much talent. No question they should be better and the pressure to take a step forward this season isn't good for job security.
with zajac skating, and most likely returning to practice in the next 1-2 weeks, what do you think would be best for the devils, as they need to get kovy back on his side (LW)have parise play with zajac or kovy and zajac, with the other playing with henrique?devils a playoff team?
pete; This isn't Pete DeBoer is it? Agreed that Kovalchuk needs to play on the left side if that's possible. Also need to see where Zajac is at in terms of his durability. And yes, I think the Devils are a playoff team. Larsson and Henrique have provided a terrific boost and if Brodeur can stay healthy they should sneak into the post-season.
I want to believe in this. Valtteri Filppula looks like the player Wings management and fellow country man and future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne have been telling us about for years. Is this a fluky hot streak, or is he finally putting it together? I really think he is driving the net harder and shooting more, so 60-70 points is realistic right?
Josh; Not equating Filppula to Datsyuk or Zetterberg but those are guys that took some time to grow into their skins. Certainly Filppula is never going to get a better opportunity to shine playing with talent and getting quality minutes. As for point totals if he's not 60-plus then the Wings will find it difficult to earn a top seed and venture far in the playoffs.
Kudos to the Wings for knocking off the red hot Bruins, but I watched that game and Jimmy caried them.....the Bs looked like they outplayed them all game long....thoughts? Stanley Cup for both?
Rich; Long way to go for those two to meet again in late May but that was a heck of a game. And you're right Jimmy Howard has been the Wings' MVP so far. Vezina anyone? As well as both are playing I still have trouble imagining either in the final when the dust clears. I think it's too much to ask of the Bruins two years in a row and the Wings just don't match up, in my mind, with Chicago, Vancouver or San Jose over a seven-game set.
How much longer before the Flames show up on the trade tracker? Who's likely to be involved?
EJN: Well rest assured GM Jay Feaster is working the phones and you know Brent Sutter is hoping he doesn't get a call from Feaster himself. But the problem for the Flames is that no one wants the guys he'd like to deal; Jokinen, Stajan et al and he's reluctant to trade the guys who do have value like Kiprusoff and Iginla. At some point something has to give.
Any chance of Teemu Selanne playing a few more years? At 41, averaging nearly a point a game, he should be good for another 3-4 years!
Xander; Not the way the Ducks are playing. Wondering if Selanne is having regrets at agreeing to come back at all this season. But you're right, he's terrific and is the team's best player right now. Wonder if he'd think about asking for a trade to the Jets?
How come no one talks about how good Mike Smith has been? Coyotes 7th overall in goals against. The guy has been better than good.
Matt; I spoke to Mike and to Dave Tippett not long ago about his terrific start and you're right on, he's been key to the 'Yotes hanging around the Western Conference playoff picture through the first quarter of the season. He has really picked up a lot from Sean Burke and the question is whether he can maintain that level of play throughout the season. If so, wouldn't be surprised to see his name come up in Vezina talks.
After last night's thrashing in Anaheim, any chance the leafs can get them to bite on Schenn, Grabovski and Kadri for Ryan? Is that a decent offer or would they require more? i would hope that Murray will still deal with Burke... Thanks for the chat
Matt; Bobby Ryan's name has come up in trade rumors and given the strong bond between Burke and Murray I wouldn't be surprised if there's a deal to be made there. Ryan would look good with that suddenly potent Leaf offense and at this stage Murray has to be looking to the future in terms of young prospects. Schenn's star has definitely waned in Toronto. Hmmm.
I can't figure out the Blackhawks at all. Can you help? What is their bigger need: another top-6 forward or a stay-at-home defenseman?
Matt; With you on the 'Hawks. When they're good they look as good as any team in the league. But when they go sideways, well, forget it. Still think defensive depth is something Stan Bowman will be pursuing. Can't have enough.
What is your opinion of Kris Versteeg's play this season? Wish he was still on the Hawks.
Ivan; Spoke with Versteeg during training camp and he said he'd finally corrected some core body issues that had been bothering him the last three years or so. Skating free from pain and now has the jump that makes him so dangerous. Also, he's one of the go-to guys now in Florida and I think he's thriving on that. One of the best if not the best off-season acquisition in the league right now.
Can I help turn the Blue Jackets, Ducks, or Flames around? I'm pretty familiar with the western conference...
Marc; I would be surprised. I think the disappointing results in Dallas and before that in Los Angeles means you're destined to do some more TV analysis before the door opens again for you. But you're very good on TV.
Scott, why not always have the Winter Classic on a neutral ice? I have a great suggestion for the one in 2013-- Red Wings vs Avalanche at Lambeau in Green Bay! Hockey in the frozen tundra-- doesn't get any better that that...What do you think?
Sergei; Love the idea of a game at Lambeau. But the danger is that you take the crowd buzz out of the equation when it's neutral site. The Premier Games in Europe, for instance, lack the buzz of a 'real' game. Love the fans in Boston or Chicago going crazy for their teams so I doubt if the NHL will go away from that. How about the Big House next year with the Wings hosting Chicago?
How much will Kari Lehtonen's injury hurt the Dallas Stars playoff push? Thanks Scott!
ted; Don't want to say 'I told you so' but my question even when the Stars were as hot as they were was how long Lehtonen could keep up the pace. He has a history of injury woes and has never been able to sustain the workload of a true Number 1. Lots of pressure now on Andrew Raycroft to hold the fort. My guess is that this will not go well for the Stars.
no calls on ice, will I be suspended?
Max; Guessing two games. Maybe three.
Hey there, Scott. As a Devils fan, I've already begun realizing these could be Parise's last couple of months in NJ. That being said I've begun thinking of trade scenarios and possible suitors. Who do you think is an early favorite given team needs and potential moveable prospects? I'm thinking Vancouver for Schneider and Hodgson...?
JD; Difficult decisions ahead for Lou Lamoriello and Parise. If they are where they are now, a bubble team, and Lamoriello hasn't inked Parise to a long-term deal hard to justify not shopping him. Los Angeles has tons of young talent and lots of cap room (assuming any team acquiring Parise will be looking to sign him to a long-term deal themselves). Vancouver is interesting but not sure they part with Schneider pending Luongo's health/mental state. What about Detroit although they're more likely to get in on Parise on July 1. Lots of interesting options if it comes to that.
i know ... i'm late ... with pronger down, does philly try to pull the trigger on a defensive trade for a big name (cmon weber...) ... our D is a turnover machine without the big guy back there.
brett; Well we know there's lots of history between Nashville GM David Poile and Flyers GM Paul Holmgren but it would take an awfully big package to get Weber out of Nashville at this stage. Preds need to find out where they're at with Ryan Suter before they make a move with either of their core defensemen. And yes the Flyers have been curiously porous without Pronger in the line-up. Still early though and he's only going to be gone a month or so (I know that seems like a long time but relatively speaking better now than in March, no?)
you said earlier you don't believe the wings have enough, what would it take for them to have enough, they have the cap space? another defence man, a power forward or two that can score??
Danny T; I'm not sure they're got enough depth up front for a four-round run. And not sure the blue line is deep enough for that kind of run either. Having cap space is more valuable for them on July 1 than at the trade deadline as it makes little sense to give up prime assets for players that aren't part of the long-term plan in Detroit.
your get to do the 09 draft again - if your edmonton do you still take Hall or would you prefer seguin now
charles; Pretty small sample even if Seguin has a Cup ring already and is lighting it up this season. Too early to have buyer's regret on this one I think.
Do you see any weaknesses on the current Penguins roster? At this point, I really see no areas of concern and would be surprised if any big deals were made this year (unless there is an injury).
Joe; Assuming every team was healthy it's hard to imagine a team with fewer holes than the Penguins. Fleury has been terrific in goal, the blue line has a nice blend of skill and toughness plus experience and the top nine forwards have a pretty nice blend of grit and skill. Could you use another skilled winger perhaps? Maybe but right now this is as complete a team as there is in the league. We'll see how they look come mid-April.
Should the Sharks be worried about Dan Boyle? His play has dropped off considerably, although it's been tough to realize because of Burns/Vlasic excelling. We need him at the top of his game for us to succeed in April and beyond.
Tim; If Dan Boyle sat with his feet up on a footstool with a keg of beer at his side until April it wouldn't matter. He's a heart and soul guy, a Cup winner, that will be vital to the Sharks getting over the hump next spring. I wouldn't sweat some down time in the first quarter of the season.
Which type of game would appeal to the average sports fan, and not necessarily hockey fan: Bruins vs Sabres or Bruins vs Red Wings? Why would the NHL showcase the Wings, when they're style of play doesn't appeal to the non hockey fan base?
Lane; Pretty sure the decision to showcase those two teams was based on the hockey markets they represent not the style they play. And I wouldn't mind watching either of those match-ups - like most hockey fans I suspect.
Scott, Do you see Colorado trading Stasnty? if so who or what could they get for him?
brian; Pressure is mounting in Denver to do something. Stastny's name comes up because he's a skill guy with some experience but his contract, two more years at $6.6 million, makes him a big bite. The dilemma for Greg Sherman is that you don't want to trade parts of what is an impressive core of young players just to make change. Honestly I think they'll make a coaching change before a roster-disrupting trade.
What do you think is the FL Panthers biggest need at this point in the season and can they finally get into the playoffs?
Rich; Well, need to make sure they get consistent goaltending through the next couple of months. Scott Clemmensen is back and he needs to be able to take some of the weight off Jose Theodore. Better balanced scoring up front would be helpful, too. But I do think they're a playoff team. Fans, what few of them remain after a decade of misery, deserve this.
With the Rangers looking good now, it seems that the biggest weakness is when they play fast teams (Florida, Montreal), would you assess that to be their weakness?
Jason; I think the Rangers like to play an in your face style and make life difficult for opponents in their own zone, create turnovers. So teams that can avoid that and then create offense off the rush are difficult to contain. Not sure it's just the speed factor but the speed in the transition game. Obviously whatever flaws the Rangers have they haven't been very obvious in recent weeks.
Okay folks, time to run. Headed to Washington tomorrow to check out the Hunter era's beginning. Thanks as always for dropping by. Talk next week.