Greetings all and a happy MLK Day to all. Now, where were we?
Hi Scott: It seemed like next year's WC vs. Detroit was the Sharks' best bet to get an invitation to it but, alas, the Leafs appear to be making the trip. Were the Sharks seriously considered as an opponent? Will they ever get a chance to play in one?
Ben; It does look like Toronto at Detroit is a lock for Winter Classic '13 although still discussions underway with the folks at the University of Michigan regarding The Big House. As for the Sharks I think they will have to get over the west coast bias when it comes to figuring into the WC rotation. Winning a Cup would be a good start and you have to think that a trip to Chicago in a couple of years would make for a compelling showdown especially if there's a playoff meeting in the spring which I think would be highly likely.
The Anaheim Ducks have appeared to have found their "mojo" from their last 6 games (5-0-1), do you believe they can keep it up and if so do you think they still have a shot at making the playoffs?
Carlos; Was actually talking to another GM about the Ducks this morning and they would have to come up with about 60 points in 38 games to squeeze back into the playoffs. Don't think that's going to happen although their strong play of late may make GM Bob Murray re-think his strategy regarding moving pieces of the puzzle like Bobby Ryan or Ryan Getzlaf. The other bonus for the Ducks is that if Murray still wants to make some moves the stock continues to rise for those players with the team's strong play.
Do you see another Vancouver vs. Boston Stanley Cup final this season? The rivalry between these two teams in phenomenal. As a Canuck fan, nothing would be better than to have another shot at those dirty B's. :-)
NoBark; Well it wouldn't surprise me at all if those are the last two teams left standing once again and the animosity between the two isn't the least bit contrived. That said, the odds remain stacked against such a repeat. Injuries will play a big role - remember that the Bruins were remarkably injury-free until the final (and with Bergeron going out and then coming back in the first two rounds) and the same for the Canucks who didn't start to break down until the final. Plus there's the goaltending in Vancouver and teams like St. Louis, Detroit, San Jose and Chicago in the east and the Rangers, Philly and if healthy Pittsburgh. In short, it would be a treat but I still think the odds are too long for a final repeat.
What is your take on the goalie situation in Philly?
Greg; I guess if I'm GM Paul Holmgren and the rest of the Flyers it's good to get this out of the way now. And as Peter Laviolette showed at the Winter Classic he will go with the hot hand come April. If that's Bobrovsky my guess is he'll be a lot more confident than a year ago. If it's Bryzgalov it's because he played his way into that spot. But regardless of how good or even how bad Bryzgalov plays between now and then the bottom line is he'll have to earn everything from scratch in terms of his teammates' confidence and trust because that's just how the playoffs are. And given how poorly Bryzgalov played last year for Phoenix he'll face the same set of questions he's been asked in recent weeks no matter how well he's playing down the stretch.
So does Tampa land a goalie by the trade deadline or do they wait for the Draft to make a trade? If so, who do you think they land?
Timmy; No sense in trading for a veteran goaltender at this stage. The Lightning are cooked vis a vis a playoff spot and I will be surprised if we don't see Dustin Tokarski the team's most promising netminding prospect get a shot to prove his mettle in the coming weeks. If he plays well that helps set the table for the off-season, if he doesn't, it means GM Steve Yzerman will have to cast a sider net (as it were) to rebuild the goaltending situation in Tampa.
With the All Star break approaching, which team can use the few days off the most?
Ice Ace; I would suspect the Penguins, back in the playoff grid but still mightily bangedup, will be looking forward to the break. Phoenix, which has had a hellacious schedule of late, will be looking forward to some down time especially given that they won't have a lot of guys jetting to Ottawa. Buffalo has been beat up pretty badly, too, although not sure that's their biggest problem.
Even though the B's haven't been playing quite as well as of late, do you think they can put it back together and finish the season back atop the east. I realize Ottawa is only a point behind in the northeast but there's still time.
Matt; The Senators' unlikely proximity to the Bruins in the standings is a bit misleading given that the Sens have played five more games. And while the Rangers are full value for their place atop the conference standings I'll still be shocked if the Bruins are the number one seed when the dust clears the second week of April. Too deep, too physical, too well-coached.
Scott - I just don't see Ken Holland wanting to give up prized assets at the deadline to go after a guy like Parise or Suter that could be a UFA and sign outright July 1st. What would a lower-cost rental player like Hemsky or Selanne command in a deadline deal?
Jay; I think you've probably hit on the Wings' strategy moving forward. Hemsky is skilled but not very durable and as a result will command much less in terms of assets when he goes on the trade block as he will. I wouldn't want to give up more than a second-round pick or a mid-grade prospect for him. And you can bet Ken Holland is gearing up for a big July when he'll have a lot of cap room to use and lots of big names to throw that cap space at. Suter? For sure. Parise? Undoubtedly. Weber? If he's in play.
Earlier this season Zach Parise said he wanted to resign with the New Jersey Devils, recently he did in interview about what he wants in his signing, he said money was important but winning a stanley cup is more important. Now that the Devils have improved from last season and are currently in a playoff spot, do think Parise will resign with the Devils?
Joey; Difficult choices ahead for both the Devils and Parise. The Devils are much improved and they have tools that bode well for the future in Adam Larsson and Adam Henrique but are they really a Cup contender? I don't think so. And this is Parise's chance for the big pay day. As a result I will be shocked if he remains a Devil. I'll also be surprised if Lou Lamoriello trades Parise before the deadline. He'll keep him, I think, and hope the Devils win a round or two and that's enough to entice Parise to stick around.
The Stars are without their top two centers for the next two weeks. Say something to make me feel better.
Joe; The team gets a few days off at the All-Star break. How do you feel now? Not to sound trite but these are the days that tell you a lot about your team if you're a coach or GM. My bigger concern than having a significant hole down the middle of my roster without Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro for the next couple of weeks will be Kari Lehtonen's return to form. He's been fair to good since coming back from injury and I'm wondering how long a leash Glen Gulutzan will be giving him given the strong play of rookie Richard Bachman. But no doubt these two weeks or so will tell us a lot about the depth and character of the Stars.
Any chance of my Jets pulling out of their January swoon and make the playoffs? Also, no one out there seems to be talking about Pavelik's outstanding play in net...I thought he might make the all-star team. A I just a Homer or is he flying way under the radar?
tdiddy; Unless the Jets can find a way to put up some Ws away from home they have no shot of making the playoffs. They are 6-11-4 away from the MTS Center and only Carolina has fewer road wins (five). By my count the Jets have used 32 different skaters this year which would be near the top of the league. Hard to generate consistency that way. But you're right, Pavelec has played well in spite of a lack of run support. He has just one win in his last five but gave up just two goals in his last two losses.
so the caps are terrible on the road this year and it looks like the second part of the season thats where they'll be playing any hopefor them to keep the number 1 spot?
c-honey; The second half will be fascinating in the Southeast for a couple of reasons. Can Dale Hunter keep the Caps going - and will Tomas Vokoun ever get a night off? And how will the Florida Panthers respond to the first challenge of the season. I think the Caps' experience will keep them in first place although I still like the Panthers to make the playoffs. Still, it's the kind of battle few expected to be taking place in the division.
Scott - do you see GM McPhee adding another center if Backstrom is out for an extended period?
Gus; For a follow-up Caps question I would be surprised if George McPhee goes the trade route to try and fill the Backstrom void. There simply isn't anyone that really fits the bill and centers are always in great demand, like veteran defensemen, at the deadline and that tends to inflate the asking price. Bottom line is that if Backstrom is out long-term (ie. into the playoffs) the Caps' chances of a playoff run are compromised anyway. No sense wasting futures to try and plug a hole that can't be plugged.
Hey Scott, love the thought of my Leafs in the Winter Classic. Worth the drive to Detroit! Question regarding Ryan Miller...do you think he'll regain his form for the second half as the Sabres begin to get healthy, or do you think he's showing the first signs of decline? And what do the Sabres do with him and Enroth if the latter?
Andrew; I suspect a lot of folks will be heading west down the 401 to Detroit in late December. As for the Sabres they struggled in the first half last year and then really enjoyed a renaissance int he second half with Miller paving the way. This year there just seems to be a lack of confidence or cohesion with the team and Miller seems stuck in a rut that will make jumping back in the hunt more difficult. Witness the big win over the Leafs Friday followed by loss to lowly Isles the next night. That's hard to swallow.
Why trade for a mediocre d man in Philly? We have the young talent. As G made Richards and Carter maovable, JvR is nolonger #2 w/ Coutier asnd Reed breaking out. Do you agree, either fond a top d man that can be there long term or not at all. A mediocre d man cost to much right now.
McKenzie; I agree that overpaying for defensive depth is a trap but I also believe, having watched Vancouver stock up with defensemen last year only to fall short in part because of injury (Hamhuis) and suspension (Rome) that you simply can't have enough. Without Pronger the Flyers still boast an impressive blue line. That said I will be shocked if Paul Holmgren doesn't add some pieces whether it's a Joni Pitkanen (that might be too expensive but he's a good, solid player) or a Lubomir Visnovsky (better offense but a big hit cap-wise)or even a lower profile veteran player.
The Rangers are playing well right now, but that power play still needs work. Any chance they make a move for a forward to help out?
Jake; I would be surprised if the Rangers didn't look at adding some help especially down the middle. Would Shane Doan look good in Ranger blue if the 'Yotes go sideways or it looks like the team will be relocated? Sure. I can also see Vinny Prospal making a return to John Tortorella's line-up given his comfort with both the Rangers and their head coach.
The Sharks can't keep 3 goalies on their roster forever. They obviously aren't trading Niemi. I love Greiss and feel like he has the most potential, but Niittymakii has more experience. Between the two, who do you feel like has the best chance of being dealt, and what kind of return could we expect?
Tim; Agreed that three goaltenders never works out. Ask the Islanders who saw their season go sideways this year as they tried to tame the three-headed goaltending beast. And agreed that I would be reluctant to trade Greiss given his youth and up-side. Niittymaki of course has almost no trade value at this stage given that he hasn't played so little. Still, something is better than nothing but I can't imagine a team giving up much (5th round pick? 6th?) for Niittymaki.
Is this the off-season we see Schneider, Bernier and/or Lindback moved? These guys could be starters.
Grahame; Funny how so many (myself included) thought that this would be the year that Jonathan Bernier would push Jonathan Quick in L.A. Now quick is a Vezina Trophy candidate and headed to the All-Star game. Does that mean Dean Lombardi shops Bernier? Maybe. Lindback might also be an option but David Poile loves his goalies and he won't be giving Lindback away. Schneider is the most intriguing given that he might be the best of the three but also is an important safety net for the Canucks come playoff time. Roberto Luongo has played well but the playoffs are a different beast as we all know and Schneider remains more than just a Plan B for the Canucks and isn't likely to be moved.
Kings, finally scored some goals, who do you see them adding or subtracting from the deadline? Bernier to Tampa would make sense...too much sense.
Bucky; No question Dean Lombardi would love to add some offensive depth. And the Bolts are surely looking for a long-term goaltending answer. Could be a fit there for sure. What about a return of Teddy Purcell to the Kings' fold? Dominic Moore will garner a lot of attention given that he is a solid two-way player that has proven his mettle in the post-season the last couple of years.
Scott. I am a huge Devils fan yet a realist. Zach loves NJ and all but I understand if he feels like he has a better chance at a cup elsewhere. Should he leave via Free Agency, do you see Alexander Semin as a fallback option?
Josh; Not sure I would ever put Alexander Semin and Zach Parise in the same sentence unless you were talking opposites. But it would be interesting to see if Semin might find some chemistry with Ilya Kovalchuk. Not really any kind of replacement for Parise, though, given how streaky Semin is and how little he brings to the defensive side of the game.
how many points do you need to get into the playoffs in the West this year?
Ryan; Last year Dallas missed with 95 tying a record for the most number of points by a team that failed to make the playoffs. This year I would guess the same. Get 96 points and you should be in. Should. In the east, 96 might win you the Southeast Division.
Why do the Blues get no love? Only 1 all-star, and no real recognition, other than being number 2 in this week's power rankings? Can't the Blues feel the love?
Jason; I wrote about the Blues last week and their battle with Central Division power houses Chicago and Detroit. Most people have Ken Hitchcock on their Jack Adams short list. I think they're getting the love.
Okay folks; Thanks as always for hanging out. Will be heading to Boston for the big clash with the Rangers on Saturday. Look forward to chatting next week. Be well.