Greetings all. Apologies for the technical malfunctions (wireless went down) last week during the GMs' meetings. So, now, where were we?
Hey scott, of all the teams that will miss the playoffs this year or are on the bubble to get in, which ones have turnaround years next year and finish great or at least make playoffs?
Shawn; I think Anaheim is a team that, in spite of missing this year, will bounce back. Lots of talent there. And my hunch, based on nothing concrete, is that Teemu Selanne will want to give it one more shot given his high level of play. Like the direction the Avs are going and Carolina has shown in recent weeks that Kirk Muller was the right choice and I would expect them to be a playoff team next year.
How is it fair that two Atlantic teams (the Pens and Flyers most likely) have to face each other when when the 6th and possibly even the 7th place team would get better draws. Boston as of late and whoever wins the Southeast are both weaker than the Pens or the Flyers currently.
Pat; Fair and the NHL playoffs aren't necessarily mutually inclusive. You're going to see less of this when the league gets around to realigning itself after next season but it's strange how the same dynamic exists in both conferences with the Southeast and Pacific messing with the preferred place to finish overall. That's the problem when you want to have six divisions as a way of creating artificial playoff races etc.
For most of the season the Central looked like the toughest division, but with current surges by the Pens and the Flyers is the Atlantic the best division in hockey now?
Pat; A quick follow-up. Not sure you can split hairs given that both divisions will send four teams to the post-season.
Scott- Will the B's get a 2nd win in a row tonight AND sweep the season series w/ the Leafs?
Cappy; History suggests the Bs will walk all over the Leafs but I will be watching with interest having seen them look pretty ordinary against Florida last Thursday before knocking off the Flyers Saturday. These are the games that I am sure Claude Julien is looking to as a barometer on putting together consistent efforts something they've struggled with since early in the New Year.
will we see NHL players represent Canada/USA..etc for the next winter olympics or will we possibly be seing college players again?
Jake; I'll be shocked if the NHL isn't in Sochi in 2014. It'll be a nightmare for the NHL and broadcasters given the time change but I don't see how the NHL walks away even if many of the owners hate the idea of shutting their doors for three weeks.
Can the kings pull it out and make the playoffs, they have a tough road but I'd like to see them make the playoffs. On a similar note, whats up with Doughty?
John; Great cautionary tale is the Kings' four-game winning streak and how they still sit in 10th place as of Monday morning. Yes, just a point out, but you can't expect to win 10 in a row or 9 of 10 which is what it will take to guarantee a playoff spot. I think the Kings' difficult stretch schedule catches up with them. As for Doughty, he has never fully rebounded from his contract issues that upset his routine and the routine of the team through training camp and into the regular season. Not sure that little extra money he got in the deal was worth it.
Any news on the returns of Nathan Horton or Rich Peverley?
Alex; Actually spoke to Peter Chiarelli at the GMs' meetings and there was no update on Horton and Peverley was going to be a firm six weeks from the time of his injury but was expected back before the start of the playoffs.
Hi Scott, great article on Brian Cambell and the Panthers. Do you think the Panthers hold off the Caps and Jets?
Matt; You are too kind. And the way the Capitals and Jets continue to shoot themselves in the foot as they did Sunday losing in Chicago and at home to Carolina respectively I think the better question is whether the Panthers can overtake the Bruins for the second seed. Anything can happen, of course, but I think there'll be playoff hockey for the first time since 2000 in South Florida.
Radulov returning to Preds = Fair or unfair? Does that make them the favorite to come out of the west?
Matt; I think it's fair for the team and probably less fair for teams like Detroit that will have to deal with a Preds team that adds a top six forward long after the roster freeze. The worst part for most hockey people is that Alexander Radulov walked away from the team and then gets to dictate the terms under which he returns. Don't think the Preds will mind if that means a first-ever trip to a conference final or more. Bottom line, though, is the team shouldn't be punished for the immature actions of one of its players.
Did you ask Peter why they're running Tim Thomas into the ground? Tonight will be his 13th straight game. What good will winning the division be if he doesn't have the energy to walk from the room to the rink.
Marc; Did you happen to see Marty Turco's last outing? My sense is they'd like to bring up some goaltending help from the AHL but have injury issues there. Agreed, though, that overworking Thomas has the potential to have a negative impact but they're really in a pickle given Rask's injury.
what do the devils need to do to score? they have parise, kovy and clarkson around 30 goals, and elias who creates, but have been having trouble getting shots on goal let alone getting it in the net, what should they do to score?and whats the percentage of parise remaining a devil?
david; The offense is definitely an issue and not just the actual goals but creating chances, shots etc. The Devils are actually a respectable 16th in goals per game but they will need to see more of that balance we've seen earlier in the season if they're going to make it deep in the playoffs. As for Parise a long post-season run helps increase the odds that he stays a Devil but I am still guessing he tests the market on July 1.
Hello Scott, have you ever seen a bigger collapse than the Wild? I mean my only hope is they finish in the 1st-4th from last range and win the draft lottery when not 3 months ago I had playoffs on my mind.
Cody; Shocking, really. I saw them in Los Angeles in December when they tied a franchise record with their seventh straight road victory. At one point top team in the NHL. Wow. so, where do you start? Leadership? Where's it been? Scoring still an issue. Credit Chuck Fletcher for holding firm to continuing to stockpile young players and draft picks but this is a bitter pill for long-suffering Wild fans to swallow.
I know you probably hear this a lot but can the Blues please get some love? I know they are ranked 2nd in the power rankings but Blues fans are kind of tired not at least see an article written about them as of late or just barely mentioned that they were the first team to clinch a playoff spot. When the Blues got to 100 points this weekend, there was very little mention of it.
Mike; I think the Blues are starting to get the love. Spoke with Doug Armstrong last week in Florida about his team's evolution. I will say this, I think a lot of hockey people are wondering if they're the kind of team that will struggle in the playoffs because they lack a lot of post-season experience. I like them to get out of the first round for sure but after that they're going to run into a Detroit or Nashville, and that's a tall order for them.
Do you think Bryzgalov will carry his hot play into the playoffs, or will he cave under the pressure of the playoffs and revert to his earlier season form?
Pat; That's the million ($10-million?) question, no? Imagine a first-round tilt with the Pens and the pressure that would bring? I think he'll be okay but his history suggests he's not a playoff guy.
Big return for Crosby (and the focus of practically everyone in the media), but how about Marty Havlat's return to the Sharks? He seems to have given them a big jolt against the Preds and Wings (which were exciting games if you didn't catch them).
Ben; Havlat's return is huge for the Sharks. Strange that they have been so tepid but he gives Todd McLellan so many more options up front. I think the Sharks are a playoff team but they won't go far without him producing up front. The problem is you can't really count on him given his lack of durability.
Would a Rangers-Caps first round match up be a dream or a nightmare for the Rangers given recent post-season play against the Caps.
Kurt; Barring a dramatic return of Nicklas Backstrom to the line-up there's no way I think the Caps could upset the Rangers. In fact I imagine it would be an inverse of last year's five-game set.
Burnside, The hawks have been looking pretty resiliant as of late. Do you think they can make a splash in the playoffs this year with the current roster or are they done with out captain Toews?
Nick; Really liked what I saw last night and the recent days especially from Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa and even the much-maligned Corey Crawford. But I don't see them getting much beyond the first round without Captain Serious.
The Wings just announced that Helm is out 4-6 weeks. Given that there is still no timetable for Lidstrom's return and that Franzen has been having back spasms, do you see the Wings falling as far as 6th place?
GBK; Yes, I think that's possible given how the 'Hawks are playing and the Wings' road woes. Actually 6th place might be the best for them to start.
Who's your MVP right now? Why has Giroux's support disappeared?
Tom; I don't know that his support has waned and I think the Bolts' missing the playoffs will hurt Steve Stamkos's chances and so I think Giroux will fall in behind Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Lundqvist.
Mike Smith has shown signs of greatness this season for the coyotes. We saw what he did against boston last season in the post season. Do you think he can carry the yotes to their 1st playoff series win this season..
Matt; I think Mike Smith has that kind of potential. I never know what to make of the 'Yotes. They need to snap out of their current funk just to get in but could they knock off a top seed? Sure.
Who do you think will be the coach and GM of Montreal next season?
Sam; I am guessing a guy like Claude Loiselle from Toronto or Julien Brisebois from Tampa in terms of GM. But let's not discount the specter of Patrick Roy parachuting into either position.
Any end in sight for the circus that is the Coyotes ownership situation, and where will the team be playing either next year or 2013-14?
Lou; One way or the other this is going to end this year. I am guessing they are going to end up moving somewhere and my guess would be Seattle. But hopefully for all concerned it will be settled in the next few weeks.
Should I be worried in Vancouver with the recent slump?
Lou; No. They've got little to play for right now given where the Blues are and no pressure from below. I still think they're a lock to win at least a round and it wouldn't surprise me to see them back in the final again.
What kind of dream do the Hurricanes have for making the playoffs? Is it more a guy can dream, pipe dream, or shattered dreams?
Richard; Next year, next year. But it's been a nice run for them, though.
When will the NHL see the return of the Quebec Nordiques? I mean, if WINNIPEG can re-get a team....
Vive; The folks in Quebec City need to get a shovel in the ground for a new arena before the NHL will ever consider a return to Quebec. If that happens I think it's a given, perhaps when the Islanders' lease runs out.
It seems clutching-and-grabbing has returned in an under-the-radar attempt at slowing the game down. Is the league trying it or is it my imagination?
Zach; This topic came up last week at the GMs' meetings and I think you'll see a tighter rein on the obstruction calls heading into the playoffs.
Scott, which of the following Stanley Cup Finals rematches would you most like to see this year: Vancouver-Boston (2011), Vancouver-Rangers (1994), Chicago-Philly (2010), Chicago-Pittsburgh (1992), Detroit-Pittsburgh (Round 3)? And which of those first two do you think Vancouver fans would want? I know both of those years are huge sore spots for the people of British Columbia.
Jesse; I wouldn't mind seeing any of those but must say I'm partial to Pittsburgh/Detroit circa '09 given the drama.
Now that my fellow countryman has found his game and claimed the Flyers net, will I get traded during the offseason?
Sergei; Let's see how Mr. Universe does when they drop the puck in mid-April before you pack your bags.
Is there any chance the NHL gets rid of the shootout? I think the only scenario where a team deserves to get a point is if the game ends in a tie
Manny; No chance the shootout goes away, sadly, but I agree there is something wrong with a team getting a point for losing.
Scott, the bottom 7 and 8th is up for grabs, what would be Pho, Col, SJ, LA, Dal and Cgy's magic numbers?
John; Here is my guess; Phoenix 7th, San Jose 8th...
In your opinion, how tight is the central division race?
Emily; Great race although the Blues are running away with it. Like the Preds to hold down 4th although the question is whether Chicago will overtake the Wings for 5th. Great fun.
Well folks, thanks for dropping by, let's do it again next week.