Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

March 8, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Barry Melrose

Jim (MA)

Bruins and Pens have a bit "measuring stick" game on Sunday. Who comes up short? Does this game have impact on the confidence of the losing team the rest of the way?

Barry Melrose
  (2:02 PM)

Not much impact. Obviously, points are important. Both of these teams are trying to climb in the standings. Whoever wins the game will have the handle on being the second best team in the East. It will help if they happen to play in the first or second round. But really, this is just another game. It won't have much effect on the playoffs.

Ben (San Jose)

If the Sharks miss the playoffs or get toasted first/second round, is Rick Nash sporting teal next year? How about Jumbo?

Barry Melrose
  (2:03 PM)

I think if they miss the playoffs, San Jose has to look at themselves very closely. This is a team that's probably underachieved the most in the playoffs than any other team in the last 5-7 years. To miss the playoffs would be huge. It would give them reason to soul search their team.

Adam (Forest Hills)

Will my Panthers break a ten year drought and finally make the playoffs

Barry Melrose
  (2:04 PM)

Yes, I think they will. I think they'll finish first in the Southeast. They seem to be better now with guys getting back from injuries. This will be the year they make the playoffs for the first time in 10 years.

Stamkos (Tampa)

Could you vote for me for the Hart if I miss the playoffs? Even with Lundquists amazing season and Malkins unreal 1.4 points per game.

Barry Melrose
  (2:05 PM)

He has been great, but I don't think you can vote for him if he misses the playoffs. Making the playoffs is the first hurdle. I don't think you can say a player is the MVP if his team doesn't make that first hurdle. He's had a great year and kept Tampa Bay in contention. Right now, Malkin would be my MVP choice.

Ian (DC) [via mobile]

What has torts change about the rangers to fire then up this year? And do u think DUBI is not playing the way he should be ?

Barry Melrose
  (2:06 PM)

He did the same thing last year. He changed the culture. He changed the type of player they wanted. Changed the type of game they played. Changed the style. Now they're a gritty hard nosed team.

Ice Ace (Alabama)

Do you believe that the Capitals and/or Ducks make the playoffs?

Barry Melrose
  (2:07 PM)

Well, I think the Caps make the playoffs before the Ducks. I am really disappointed with the Caps. They look like they don't care. Ovechkins has fallen off the face of the earth offensively. Semin is not scoring consistently. I still think they have a good chance of making the playoffs, but very disappointing.

Bill (Pasadena,CA)

Hi Barry, of all the teams you have coached, how easy was it to coach the 93 Kings team compared to other teams you have coached? Thanks.

Barry Melrose
  (2:08 PM)

Sometimes coaching talent is harder than coaching workers. Talented guys have been stars their whole lives. Just because we're seeing talented teams this year like Anaheim, San Jose, Washington struggle and not make the playoffs. Sometimes you'd rather have 20 hard working guys that you know you're getting 100% from every night.

Ed (Philadelphia)

Do the Rangers have enough goal scorers for a deep playoff run?

Barry Melrose
  (2:08 PM)

Yeah, they do, because they don't need a lot to win. Their defense is so good and their goaltending is so good they don't need 5-6 goals to win. They feel they can win those 1-0, 2-1 games.

Gerry (San Francisco, CA)

Fact or Fiction: Which ever team(s) that comes out of the Southeast Division will have a hard time making it to the Cup Finals because they allow more goals than goals scored.

Barry Melrose
  (2:09 PM)

That's a fact. The Southeast is the weakest division. Two months ago, we thought there would only be one team in the playoffs. That might change to 2. If you look at them compared to the other two divisions, the Southeast would be the weakest.

Rick (Motor City)

Safe to say a central division team wins the cup this year?

Barry Melrose
  (2:10 PM)

I think you can say it, but I'm not sure it's safe. You have a team called Vancouver that's pretty good. Pittsburgh. The Rangers. Boston. The Central is great, but I wouldn't give away trophies yet.

Garrett (NY)

Hey Barry I'm already worried about my Rangers having to face the Penguins in the playoffs, but do I need to fear losing the #1 seed as well?

Barry Melrose
  (2:11 PM)

No. I think the Rangers will finish first. They have quite a cushion there. I don't think they'll go on a losing streak to finish the season. Boston is playing OK. Pittsburgh is playing well, but the Rangers will probably continue to win 7 out of every 10 they play.

Ken (Music City)

Your Coach of the year?? why??

Barry Melrose
  (2:12 PM)

Oh, that's a good battle....I would probably have to give it to Ken Hitchcock. He took over a team earlier in the year and got the team to first in the West. Hard to overlook that.

Jay (The Soo )

Barry, What gives with the Wing's PP? Have they become too dependent on shots from the point? Perhaps they should try running the PP from the corners and use the point only when it is made available?

Barry Melrose
  (2:13 PM)

Don't forget they had a lot of injuries. Lidstrom's out. Datsyuk's out. They all play the power play. I think their PP will be fine. This team's PP is very simple. I like that. A simple one usually doesn't go into long slumps. I know come April, they'll be scoring on the PP.

Justin (Melboure, FL)

Chances the Sabres make the playoffs?

Barry Melrose
  (2:14 PM)

The way Miller is playing, they would probably be my next favorite. I think Florida gets in. Winnipeg or Washington finishes 8th. Miller is playing as well as he has all year. That's the most important position. They have a chance, but I'm still saying Washington or Winnipeg.

Ross (Vegas)

Barry: Carter arrives in Los Angeles the Kings start scoring goals. Will this trend continue? Also when is Gagne expected to return and will his return cement the offense of the Kings?

Barry Melrose
  (2:15 PM)

Well, if it does, they have a chance to make the playoffs. He's got a couple of goals in the game's he's been in. He should make the PP better, more balanced scoring. Let's look at 10 games instead of 1 or 2. Let's see if they can do it for a while and not revert to their defensive ways.

Knutnor (Phila)

Flyers goal keeping problems over?

Barry Melrose
  (2:15 PM)

No. The Flyers' goaltending problems are never over. Don't get comfortable. Don't get feeling solid if you're a Flyers fan. Enjoy it and pray that you get another good day of goaltending.

chaps (St. Charles)

Hey Barry, do you thing the blues have what it takes to go deep into the playoffs judging by their success throughout the year as well as on the road lately?

Barry Melrose
  (2:16 PM)

Definitely. This is a team built for the playoffs. Two excellent goaltenders. Their defensive system is probably right up there with the Rangers. They're a big, physical club and they have some playoff experience. I like their makeup.

Peter (Sweden)

Hi Barry, Mats Sundin said in an interview that he thought that if every team had a player like Tie Domi, the hits to the head wouldn't be as big a problem as it is today. Would you agree?

Barry Melrose
  (2:17 PM)

Definitely. That's how hockey used to police itself. If you did something to somebody, like a high hit or check to the head, you would be held accountable and you'd have the fight right there. A lot of players would be careful with their sticks. Now there's no repercussions. The worst thing is a small suspension or a fine, but you don't have to stand up against another guy.

Jeff (Denver, CO)

How tough is this Duchene injury for Colorado? Any shot at the playoffs now?

Barry Melrose
  (2:18 PM)

Colorado has a lot of depth. They have a lot of young players. Overcoming injuries is a part of being a team. That's the way the sport is. It's a good test for Colorado. They haven't been winning because of one guy.

Bill (St. Louis)

7 game series Blues vs Detroit, who is victorious? Does it matter who has home ice since both are great at home and decent road teams.

Barry Melrose
  (2:19 PM)

I don't think home ice would matter. When you get into a 7 game series with Detroit, I would have to say the edge goes to Detroit. But we saw a few years ago that Pittsburgh went into Detroit in Game 7 and won.

Mike (Chicago)

if toews comes back healthy, hawks have a big chance to make a run right?

Barry Melrose
  (2:20 PM)

The Hawks are playing pretty good right now. But they've been very inconsistent. Right now, unless something changes, you can't think about them being as good as Nashville, Vancouver, St. Louis, Detroit.

Enzo (Denver)

Hi Barry.. Do you think the Avs will make a push and get into the playoffs? The goaltending and defense has been up and down all year..

Barry Melrose
  (2:21 PM)

They're making a great push now. It will come down to Dallas, LA, San Jose, Colorado, Calgary. Those are the five teams that I think have a chance at those two spots. You can put another spot up for grabs if Phoenix doesn't turn it around.

Tom (Chicago)

Flyers fans need to remember that Bryz has done well in the regular season in the past, but come playoff time he's been below average.

Barry Melrose
  (2:22 PM)

A lot of people would like to know why that is. If Philly had known why they wouldn't have given them all of that money. Last year he had a great season in Phoenix and blew up in the playoffs. He's been inconsistent this year. He has to show he can do it night after night in the playoffs.

Rick (Edmonton)

Who comes out of the west?

Barry Melrose
  (2:23 PM)

Right now, I'd say Vancouver or St. Louis. Those are the two best teams. I like the Predators and Detroit a lot, but if you're narrowing me down, I say Vancouver or St. Louis.

Enzo (Denver, CO)

Hi Barry.. Mario's statue is put up in Pittsburgh.. well deserved. Just had a discussion with Ron Greschner about who was more talented, Gretzky or Mario? Gresch says Lemieux.. I say Gretzky.. Your take?

Barry Melrose
  (2:24 PM)

If you're looking at just talent, I would say Mario. But Gretzky wasn't great because of talent, he was great because of intangibles. He saw the play a couple of steps ahead. He was a great leader. But Mario was a freak. He was 6-6, great puck handler. Two great players, but built entirely different. Played different.

Rich (Philly)

When do you expect to see Marty Turco between the pipes? What do you expect from him?

Barry Melrose
  (2:25 PM)

I wouldn't expect to see him too soon. When the Bruins finally have something clinched, you might see him play. But they still have to make sure they win their division to keep home ice in the first round. I would expect Thomas to play until they're clinched.

Joe (Tallahassee)

Why no love for Marc-Andre Fleury? I'm sure he doesn't mind going under the radar, but he has 1 less win than Pekka Rinne and 4 more than King Henrik AND he's won a Cup! What gives?

Barry Melrose
  (2:26 PM)

I agree with you. He's been great this year. He's probably played the best he has throughout his career. He's had a fantastic year. If Lundqvist's numbers hadn't been so good, Fleury would get more talk.

Ice Ace (Alabama)

Who will be the goaltender for the Blackhawks when the playoff start? Emery or Crawford?

Barry Melrose
  (2:26 PM)

Right now, Emery appears to have the job. They've sort of been rotating all year long. Right now, though it appears Emery is the No. 1.

Greg (Chicago)

Do the hawks regret trading Niemi?

Barry Melrose
  (2:27 PM)

Niemi has been pretty inconsistent for San Jose this year. Probably they wish they could have kept him, a good young goaltender just won a Cup. But he hasn't been the be all end all of the Sharks this year either.

Mike (Chicago)

what 5th through 8th place team has the best chance at the cup in your opinion?

Barry Melrose
  (2:28 PM)

You know what? Any of those teams that get in means they're playing well. THey have to get hot the rest of the year. A team like Calgary, LA, team with a very good goaltender that gets in would be dangerous. A goaltender could win a couple of rounds. Those teams scare you.

Barry Melrose
  (2:29 PM)

About 6-7 games tonight with playoff implications. Great night to watch TV!