Greetings all. Two weeks from now we'll be talking match-ups and playoff favorites. But a lot of road to travel before then. Now, where were we?
How was your crow this morning?
Tim; Actually didn't taste a thing as Pierre did the Power Rankings today. But I can't argue with where he had the streaking Sabres. Huge tilt tomorrow night with Washington at Verizon Center. Have nothing against the Sabres but I will point out that as of now they still reside outside the playoff bubble and unless they can find a way in then all their hard work down the stretch will amount to nothing.
What chance do the Kings have to make a deep run in the playoffs. Is this a team no one wants to see?
Tyler; How hard is the west to figure out? Kings might be as good a team as there is in the conference right now but they could easily miss the playoffs altogether. That home and home to close out the season with San Jose looms large. But I believe they are a team regardless if they're the 3rd, 7th or 8th seed that could pose big problems for their first-round opponent. As for a deep run, I defy anyone to be confident of any team in the west making a run to the Cup final at this point in time.
Hey Scott how do you see the Rangers playoffs run ending?
Garrett; It's hard to map out how things are going to go for the Rangers without knowing if they're going to hold on to the top seed or not. That's a big bonus because I'm not sure anyone, even red hot Pittsburgh, relishes a first-round date with the Flyers given how well Ilya Bryzgalov is playing. For me the Rangers' playoff path will be determined by two things; can Henrik Lundqvist out-play whoever is standing at the other end of the ice and can the Rangers' find enough offensive depth so that if Marian Gaborik and/or Brad Richards go dry can they keep moving forward.
Does this weekend's news about Quebec's intentions to build an arena make them any more likely than Seattle, et al, to get a team like the Coyotes if they move? Or does it simply confirm something that was already pretty much expected?
Brian; I talked to a league source this morning who said this had been expected all along. However whenever something is formalized as was the plan to build an NHL-ready arena in Quebec City it changes things. With the Seattle situation still in a state of flux, Quebec City I think moves back to the front of the line vis a vis a potential landing place for the Coyotes if a new owner can't be found in the next month or so.
After three games, what is your thoughts on Radulov?
Jamie; I've actually managed to catch a fair amount of all three games. Have to admit I've been impressed. He just adds another layer of creativity for the Preds in the offensive zone. A power play that was already surprisingly effective has another key weapon in terms of puck control, in terms of finding the open man and that means there should be more room for Weber and Suter at the point. Let's see how his conditioning is in two weeks but so far so good.
Greetings Scott, thanks for the time. With Alex Steen back in the lineup, Jaden Schwartz showing his ability, and Andy Mcdonald close to returning, do the Blues have enough fire power to make a run in the playoffs?
Jacob; I had a chance to chat with Ken Hitchcock this morning for a piece I'll write later this week but we were talking in general about how important health is to all the teams in the west because there are so many teams that, in theory, could run the table. So there's no doubt getting Steen back is huge. He does so many things for the Blues when he's healthy. And if McDonald can get back to form the Blues' offense by committee is that much more dangerous. Like the Rangers I think the issue for the Blues is going to be finding enough goals when they face a team like Vancouver (or Los Angeles as they're going now). But they are built for the playoffs and have a coach who's built for the playoffs.
Sabres finding a way in should open up tomorrow night. Capitals lack heart, and don't give me they beat the Wild. The team that has folded up each April for years now is what I expect to see on the ice tomorrow night.
Joe; That's why I'm so intrigued by tomorrow's game. Neither team has had a history of being able to deliver the goods when it matters. Lots of things can happen in the next 10 days or so but if there's a regulation winner Tuesday that might be the difference between getting in and going home a week Saturday.
lost in the penguins media frenzy is fleury. while his numbers arent eye popping, his play is the reason pens are fighting for first. is a veizna nod too much to hope for?
joe; I agree that Fleury's strong play throughout the season gets overshadowed by Malkin, Neal and of course more recently Crosby. Not sure he can dislodge Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne at the top of the Vezina discussion I think he may get a look along with Jonathan Quick and maybe Jimmy Howard (although his injuries may derail his chances) as a third name on the ballot.
You may have this on the piece on health your writing but what teams in your opinion have battled the most adversity injury wise this year?
Ron; It's easier to pick teams that have stayed healthy but I think the Penguins without Crosby and for long periods Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal are an example of a team that didn't let injury become a crutch. The Caps never quite got over losing Nicklas Backstrom and of course Mike Green was gone for pretty much the entire season before his recent return. The Blues have missed key personnel like Andy McDonald and Alex Steen for long periods and still kept chugging. But maybe for me the Flyers are a team that lost big when Chris Pronger went down and have had a huge number of concussions sideline other players but still managed to keep afloat.
Hi Scott, with the obvious need of an offensive threat to skate on Heatley and Koivu's line do you think Parise will actually consider coming home to play this offseason? What type of factors are in play? Are the Wild really close to being a playoff team in the next couple years? To me it's hard to believe having watched almost every game this season. I'd think Zach would prefer to resign or play with a team capable of making a big push. Thanks for your insights.
Jon; Not sure what insight other than I think if Parise leaves New Jersey - and I think it will be a major surprise if he doesn't - it will be a combination of dollar, term and potential. I don't think the Devils are a Cup team this spring so I would look for Parise to join a team with a winning tradition. There will always be an attraction to being part of a home-state revival but the way the Wild fell off the map this year has to be a major red flag if you're Parise. Too bad, because had they made the playoffs it might have been easier to make that kind of pitch to a quality guy like Parise. My guess right now? How about Parise in a Red Wing jersey July 1?
Scott-Can we give some love on here to Jon Quick? Here is analogy to baseball. The Cy Young award is given to the best pitcher in the National and American league. A few years ago, Felix Hernandez won the American Cy Young. He had a mediocre 13-13 record, but his ERA and number of Strikeouts were through the roof. For someone not getting any goal support and still being in the top 5 in most goalie categories, that is pretty darn impressive.
Mark; The GMs' vote on the Vezina but I don't think he's flying under the radar. People know how good he's been and how difficult it's been with the lack of run support for most of the year. My guess, going back to an earlier question, is that right now he's number three behind Lundqvist and Rinne. Not bad company. And of course there's always the Conn Smythe Trophy to shoot for in June.
Stars questions. Reily Smith, what do you expect out of him with the jump from College straight to NHL, ala GM Joe N. Also, what do you think about Morrow relegated to 4th line.
Reily; It's a big jump to go NCAA to NHL. But the expectations, I would think, are fairly modest so that's a good thing. And as for Morrow's relegation that's clearly a function of him not being close to being 100%. But if ever there was a gamer it's Brenden Morrow. No sense forcing him into a role he's not physically able to handle but having him play a lesser role still means he's in the mix. Nice job, in my opinion, of handling his bench by rookie head coach Glen Gulutzan.
Prediction for tonight's Sharks Avs game?
Arin; Here's another game where a team is looking for its character to reveal itself. Like Semyon Varlamov's play more than I like that of Antti Niemi so give the edge to the Avs; 3-2.
Mr. Burnside,Do you think the Hawks have a chance of reaching the Cup finals this year even if they get Toews back, and maybe Montador?
Nick; I think a return to the Cup final this year will be determined by the return of Jonathan Toews; they have a shot if he's back and much smaller shot if he doesn't. And the play of Corey Crawford/Ray Emery. Given how both have played this season, in some cases both brilliantly and both poorly, I think both will have to carry some load if the 'Hawks are to go deep this spring. When they're going they're a fun team to watch and a hard team to stop. When not, as in last night versus Nashville, yikes.
Caps question Mr. Burnside- 1st- do you think they make the playoffs? 2nd with ovechkin on fire, holtby playing like he did last year, and backstrom eyeing a playoff return do you think the caps could be a suprise team in the playoffs? If they get the pens in the first round I wouldnt think so but any other team, particularly the rangers, I think the caps can beat
Daniel; So many if's for the Caps. But if they do get in and play a team like the Rangers I think an upset is possible. Very little pressure on them this spring and if Backstrom can come back and contribute that changes the make-up of the team considerably. Don't like their chances against the Pens although selfishly look forward to any clash of Crosby/Ovechkin for the pure drama it would bring. Holtby is interesting. The one factor that goes without saying is they need to find someone who can give them some kind of consistency between the pipes. Maybe it's Holtby but it has to be someone or they can kiss the playoffs as a whole goodbye.
Non-Playoff Question - What do the Oilers do, if anything, in the off-season by way of trade to improve in the long run? Are they out of the Bernier/Schneider discussions? Defencemen only or forwards too? We have to believe they're taking another forward with a top 3 pick, right?
Jamie; The Oilers still have a bunch of holes to fill but for me they have to decide if Devan Dubnyk can carry the load as a starter and if not start planning beyond an aging Nikolai Khabibulin. And the blue line remains a gaping hole in terms of this team taking a step forward. At this stage the Oilers look well-stocked up front but woefully thin on the back end and uncertain in goal. That's no way to get back to the playoffs.
So many people are hung up on the Sabres or the Capitals making the playoffs. I see them both passing Ottawa, how bout you?
Jim; Great point and the Sens have a monster date with the Jets in Winnipeg tonight. They have turned what should have been a sure-thing playoff berth and maybe a shot at 6th or even the Northeast Division title into a dogfight with the Caps and Sabres. I think the Jets are spent but they are so dangerous at home that this is crunch time for the Sens. Counting tonight they play four of six on the road to close things out. No wonder the Sens fans are all clustered around their panic buttons.
I have a conspiracy theory. I think the Devils are intentionally losing, because they DON'T want to over take the Flyers for 5th. That 4/5-hole in the east is going to be a long road no matter how you shake it.
Zach; I don't think anyone actually 'hopes' to lose games at this stage of the season, bad karma. But you point out an obvious truth. With all due respect to the Florida Panthers they are obviously a team that looks more beatable than any of the Rangers, Pens or Flyers. Of course, what do they say about being careful what you wish for...
Are the Bruins back on track? Can they challenge the New York, Pittsburgh and Phily tri in the East?
James; Bruins do seem to have found their mojo again. Nice to see Marty Turco get a win and if you're a Bruins fan you hope to see three or four more so Tim Thomas is nice and fresh come post-season time. Bruins are pretty much locked into the second seed and they match up pretty well against Ottawa should the Sens hang on there. Regardless I like their chances of advancing beyond the first round and then it gets interesting. I think they need Rich Peverley back but the lack of news surrounding Nathan Horton's recovery is troubling especially when it comes to facing one of those other elite clubs in the east.
It's a surprise to everyone that the Panthers are turning heads. As a South Floridian, I couldn't be more thrilled to see rats raining down on the ice after wins. There's an atmosphere of cautious optimism though. How deep into the playoffs do the Panthers go this year?
Jonathan; Got a chance to see the Panthers wax Boston after the GMs' meetings and it was a nice vibe. When you don't make the playoffs for more than a decade it's always good to have cautious optimism. Could they beat New Jersey, Ottawa, Washington or Buffalo? They'll have their hands full regardless and I think it's a question of whether the offense can keep up. They have gone dry recently and while the team defense is good and Jose Theodore has been impressive they'll need more scoring up and down the line-up to advance.
RE: Zach (Philly) - No conspiracy theory, but wouldn't the Hawks rather face the Pacific division winner rather than Nash/Det, right?
Imre; The same dynamic as we were discussing in the east exists in the west. And you're right Chicago would look to have an easier time against Dallas or Los Angeles in the first round than either Detroit or Nashville. Still, I think most coaches believe that you've got to win what you can while you can so no one is angling for a specific match-up. Plus, if you're Chicago you've still got a shot at home ice advantage in the first round so don't think anyone is trying to massage the seedings to their advantage. That always comes back to bite you.
Don't you think people are handing the Stanley Cup to Pittburgh a tad early? They look fantastic, no question. But they have holes defensively, and there are been a few teams this season that looked unbeatable that are struggling now - including the defending champs. I wouldn't get against them, but people shouldn't be shocked if they get taken down...
Jim; Absolutely a fair point. I think, though, that what makes the Pens so impressive now is that they are healthy and when they are healthy they are such a handful down the middle with Staal, Crosby and Malkin plus with a defense that is better than the one that won the Cup in '09 I think that's why folks are anticipating a long, long run in the spring. But having watched 8th seed Montreal knock of Washington and Pittsburgh in 2010 I get that looking good on paper is a long way away from anything.
I like conspiracy theories. How about that extra point from the clock "malfunction" in LA? Looking like a pretty big point right about now...
Tim; That point looms very, very large if you're any of the other five teams in the west that could find themselves dislodged by the Kings by a single point when the dust clears a week from Saturday. That's the NHL's worst nightmare. Not just the fact the Kings received two points that they might not have ultimately earned but it also counts in the ROW (regulation, overtime wins) totals that will almost certainly have a bearing on who makes it and possible seeding.
Philadelphia Flyers. Deep run or fast fizzle exit?
Dennis; I'll just forward your question to Ilya Bryzgalov's email address. Even without Pronger and now Andrej Meszaros I like the Flyers depth along the blue line and if Daniel Briere stays warm really like the blend up front but it all comes back to Bryzgalov. Think about last weekend's terrific clash with Pittsburgh. Now think seven games of that kind of hockey against the Pens or Rangers or Devils and the Flyers have a shot. But is there a chance Bryzgalov goes off the rails, hard and without any warning? Of course. Wouldn't be Philly without that kind of uncertainty going into the post-season would it?
How good is Gustav Nyquist? Six assists in 11 games while only averaging 11 minutes a night. 5 of them since his most recent call up getting to play with Datsyuk. And his shot is very nice. He puts on some weight this summer and a Nyquist/Datsyuk line is bound to give opposing defense fits right?
Matt; Typical Red Wings, no? He was taken with the 121st overall pick in the '08 draft. Now he's a real NHLer. You have to shake your head in admiration at Ken Holland and the Red Wing scouting staff. Interesting to see if he gets another look come playoff time.
Can the Canucks go anywhere in the post-season without Daniel?
Doug; I think the Canucks are deep enough to get out of the first round without Daniel Sedin. But beyond that becomes much tougher without the best pure goal-scorer on the team.
Do you think Karlsson is a lock for the Norris Trophy? Any chance Pietrangelo gets any consideration?
Manny; No, I think Karlsson will likely settle into the third spot on the ballot behind Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara with Ryan Suter in the mix, too. Terrific numbers but I think his overall game will keep Karlsson from the actual hardware this season at least.
Okay folks, time to wrap it up. Thanks for dropping by. Be well.