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April 11, 4:00 PM ET
Chat with Pierre LeBrun

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:00 PM)

Greetings from St. Louis, folks. Let's talk playoffs !

Ric (Nashville) [via mobile]

Who is your pick for the Preds/Red Wings series and what do you think will be the difference that decides the series?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:02 PM)

I picked the Predators in 7 games but honestly it's a total flip of the coin. No two teams are more evenly matched in the first round of the playoffs.For all of my first-round picks you can find them here: http://espn.go.com/nhl/playoffs/2012/story/_/id/7772345/experts-picks

Rob (NY)

I know eveyone is skeptical about the Kreider topic, but the kid is 20 yrs old, grown into his body, and posesses the speed, skill, and physicality needed to be an NHL player. Isn't he a better player then John Mitchell and make the Rangers deeper then they just were for the playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:04 PM)

yes, agreed.Here's a quote a former NHL scout told ESPNNY's Katie Strang regarding Kreider:"I think he can help. He's got NHL speed and NHL-level puck-pursuit ability and he gives you another dimension with that speed that pushes opponents beyond their comfort level," said one former NHL scout, who has watched Kreider throughout his career at Boston College."He hasn't played an NHL game, but he's a quick learner and it's another asset and weapon that the coaching staff can use," the scout continued. "He might help the team out in one game and that could put them over the hump in the series. I'd certainly like him in my arsenal."

Grant (Ottawa)

Rangers are garbage, even cheating by signing Kreider we will beat them down and take the series in 6 right?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:04 PM)

Don't think so

Joe (Cali)

I just want to remind all the Blues fans about the Owen Nolan - Roman Turek moment from the last time they met in the playoffs. There's not many teams Sharks fans can talk playoff trash to (Nashville)

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:05 PM)

haha, that was 12 years ago !

Dan (Atlanta)

I know a lot of people assuming the Pitt will handle the Flyers, but I have to think that Philly's grit will overcome Pitt's talent. If you can get into the mind's of Crosby and Malkin, which Philly can, you will definitely alter their ability to light the lamp. I'm just curious as to why so many people seem to be counting out the Flyers already.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:06 PM)

I don't think anyone is discounting Philly as much as recognizing that Pittsburgh is the most dominant team in the East. My guess is most people would have picked the Flyers vs. almost any other team in the East. And while I picked PIttsburgh in 7 over the Flyers, it wouldn't shock me at all if Philly won. Two very closely matched teams. Go could either way

Dan (NJ)

I know that there are a lot of questions surrounding this Devil's team, but is it really that hard to believe that this team could possibly play in the Eastern finals? If they get past Florida, that would most likely set up a date with the Rangers, whom the Devils have had some success against this season.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:07 PM)

Dan, any of the 16 teams who made the playoffs could honestly end up in the conference finals. No. 8 seeded Montreal and No. 7 seeded Philadelphia played in 2010 Eastern Conference finals. No. 8 seed Edmonton played in 2006 Stanley Cup finals. PARITY !!!!!!!

Mark (San Jose)

Happy playoffs, Pierre. Ovechkin and company have struggled in past postseasons against teams that have smothered them defensively and i think this Boston team might be the best at it yet. With Chara-Seidenberg and likely Beregeron all matched up against the Caps top unit, do they have the secondary scoring to compete?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:09 PM)

Nope. Boston definitely wins that series

Cappy (NYC)

Pierre Mon Ami-two sleeper player to watch for in the B's Caps series, my votes J Ward for wash and Corvo for bos

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:10 PM)

Hope that's a very deep pool you're in :) Just kidding, I love Joel Ward. He was better suited to play in Nashville but he's a terrific two-way player

Ty (FL)

What is your opinion of JR's comments regard the Penguins?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:10 PM)

Don't know what he said. I've been in St. Louis the last few days preparing for SHarks-Blues

Vinnie (San Jose, CA)

Pierre, What did you think of Clowe's poke-check from the bench last week? I think the hard-working Blues will beat the Sharks in six, but I think Havlat will be the key if the Sharks win. If he's on his game, he makes that second line w/Clowe & Couture a 1B line, and then Hitchcock really has to decide which line to try and shut down. Enjoy the game in St. Louis and safe travels!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:14 PM)

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock today was talking about Havlat and a series he had when he coaches Flyers in playoffs vs. Havlat's Senators. Said Havlat was best player on the ice in that series and ''it wasn't even close. He was better than Hossa."

DAVID (SAN JOSE)

Hey Pierre, Thanks for keeping the faith in our beloved SHARKS!! With Elliott not a 100%, could this be actually a blessing in disguise for SJ? Blues might have to flip flop goalies and we know it's all on Niemi's shoulders for SJ.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:15 PM)

Not sure it changes much. Both Halak and Elliott have been terrific this year and I actualy believe Hitchcock was leaning Halak's way even before Elliott's minor injury

Sergei (Madison, WI)

Pierre, man did you (and all the other "experts") make my blood boil with your predictions. Since I don't put any stake in what Burnside, Melrose (I thought one has to actually be knowlegable to be employed), and apparently Custance have to say, I have to "fight" the only guy I respect -- you. So, the Blues sweep the Sharks in the regular season, they have the second best goals for/ against ratio, which you "covet", they are the stingiest team in the NHL (defense wins championships, they say) and you still pick.......the Sharks?! You say it'd be cowardly to change your pick now- I say it would show COURAGE to admit that you were wrong! But, as you may have guessed knowing me pretty well, it's not about the Blues at all. I don't care if they get bounced, I want to point out your differences in your viewing Wings and Sharks. So, Wings are "old", but Sharks are "playoff-savvy and more experienced", Wings had the best goal for/ against ratio (again, that you covet) like Boston last year (Stanley Cup winner), but Sharks are going to upset their younger less experienced opponent (Preds?). I am furious that none of you, other than Linda (give her a big sloppy kiss from me for her vote of confidence) picked the Wings! Lidstom alone has won more playoff games than their whole roster. We're getting healthy and with Franzen elevating his game in the playoffs, I don't care how good their PP is. Our PK has been really good lately. Pavel is better than Suter, Weber and Rinne combined (he made them look pathetic with one move for the 22nd win). The Wings will "upset" Nashville and the Sharks will be sent home! Sorry for the rant, just couldn't keep it inside me....

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:17 PM)

Sergei, I always wonder how many Red Bulls you've had before you type these question, haha.By the way I turned 40 years old today. Can't believe you didn't wish my Happy Birthday.I didn't pick the Preds because I thought the Wings are old. I picked the Preds because I believe it's their time. But as I said in the first question of the chat, flip a coin between Preds and Wings. Two great teams who unfortunately are meeting this early. Both could win the Cup.

AvsFan (Los Angeles)

Ca va Pierre? Why no talk of Clowe's blatant cheating possibly affecting the seeding in the West? No discipline from the NHL at all on this one? I would think in a game with that much on the line (or any game really), the NHL would want to send a strong message about that sort of behavior being unacceptable...but instead it"s been radio silence. IMHO, this sort of thing is as or more damaging to the game as a dirty hit. Your thoughts?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:18 PM)

It was pretty silly of Clowe to have done that, and he's a stand-up guy and knows that. But it's not that big a deal. That's not what decided that game.

Mike (SJ)

Is Antti Niemi good enough for the Sharks to win? I think the only way they win this series is if he outplays Halak/Elliot. While I'm pulling for them, I just don't see that happening.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:24 PM)

Blues have the edge in goal in my opinion. But Niemi has he's shown in winning Cup in 2010 has his moments... I don't think Sharks need Niemi to ''win" them the series as much as not ''lose" it

Scott (Silverman)

The Shark's really seemed to tighten up their game at the end of the season. Regardless, I would feel more comfortable with their match up against the Nucks as an 8 seed (and a questionable Sedin), rather than a really tough Blues team.What do you think the biggest x-factor in this game will be for the sharks to pull it out in 6 or 7? Personally, I think Niemi will have to steal 1 or 2 very low scoring games to keep us in the series, that Blues defense is no joke!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:24 PM)

I think Sharks' playoff experience vs. Blues playoff inexperience is biggest factor in San Jose's favor.But Blues match up better in most areas otherwise

Jacob Stoller (Winnipeg, Manitoba)

In this off season, will the Winnipeg Jets aquire new players in the off season? Any names that the team is interested in?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:25 PM)

Of course they will. Too early to tell yet who exactly though

Danny (Manitoba)

Hi, PierreWhat is the latest news on the Habs? Any word on who is the favorite for the GM job? Do you think the Pierre Mcguire is a realistic option? Thanks for your time.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:26 PM)

Haven't heard anything knew of late. Focus on my playoff series here in St. Louis so not really looking into those things at this point unless something breaks

Mayor Elaine Scruggs (Glendale, AZ)

Will there be NHL hockey in Glendale next year Pierre? I try to get my infos whatever they come from, you know...

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:26 PM)

It's possible... NHL and Jamison group keep working away at it... Tick tock..

Ice Ace (Alabama)

I noticed that you pick the Blackhawks to win in 6 games over the Coyotes. What is(are) your reason for the pick? I think the Coyotes will steal that series with the red hot Mike Smith in goal.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:27 PM)

I originally picked Phx and then chickened out and picked the Hawks.... Wouldn't shock me if Coyotes won

Cappy (NYC)

Pierre-what is the biggest key for the panthers to pull off the upset against the devils? uncle theo? garrison?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:28 PM)

Theo for sure plus Panthers must capitalize on PP

Craig (Virginia)

Am I just a crazy fanatic, or should the Caps be getting a little more respect in this Boston series?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:29 PM)

Anything can happen but Caps haven't shown the kind of consistency this season that would make you believe they could pull it all together now

Alex (Pitt)

Do you think the Flyers may be the team from the East best suited to possibly knock out the Pens?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:29 PM)

Well the Flyers won 4 of 6 games vs. the Pens this year, so yes

Bad Ash (Philly)

Nearly everyone seems to have written off the Flyers as already losing to the Pens. With Briere and Grossmann back, don't the Flyers pose a legitimate threat to the Penguins?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:30 PM)

yes they do

Jason (DC)

Knowing that you're a leafs fan, how did you take to the organizations apologies in the past few days? And who needs to take the most blame for this year?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:30 PM)

Um, I'm not a ''fan" of any kind. I'm a journalist.But as a kid, before I became a hockey writer, I grew up cheering for Montreal :)

Jeff (Jerusalem)

Doesnt a leafs-oilers pick swap make sense for both teams. Leafs can send another young d-man back to Edmonton plus a future pick depending on which d-man goes? Leafs add top flight fwd they badly need and oil add two top 4 d-men

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:31 PM)

makes sense, no question... we'll see how it all shakes out

Devin (PA)

What a great day! Doesn't it just feel like being a 5 year old on Christmas? All I can do at work is keep looking at the clock waiting till pucks drop and the best postseason in sports begins!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:32 PM)

Great time of year. A little too much planes, trains and automobiles over 2 months for me, but I wouldn't change it for the world. Best hockey of the year

Devin (PA)

You should get the whole ESPN NHL crew together and do all of your chats the first day of each round back to back. It would be 4 of the greatest led-in hours to hockey ever!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:32 PM)

will pass your idea on the the boss !

www.broadstreetblogs.com (Home of the 2012 Stanley Cup Champs)

With the Pens the overwhelming favorite to win this series and the Stanley Cup, does this actually take the pressure off of the Flyers and all of their rookies?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:33 PM)

yes in some form it does and I'd be shocked if part of Laviolette's pre-game address tonight doesn't include the fact ''nobody in the world picked us," etc.... Classic us vs. the world motivation

Shawn (Mi)

Thanks for doing the chat, Pierre. We know you have to be busy around this time of the year. What do the Penguins have to do to get by Philly? It seems Philly has their number this year, at least in the regular season.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:34 PM)

Pens' D has to move the puck out faster. Flyers forecheck this year has created turnovers off pressure on Pens D. Need quicker transition. Play the game in the Flyers' end, not yours

Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)

Do you think that the Boston Bruins will win their Second Straight Stanley Cup by Being the 2011-2012 Stanley Cup Champions?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:34 PM)

They've got a shot no question...

www.broadstreetblogs.com (Home of the 2012 Stanley Cup Champs)

All do respect for your neighbor Giroux, isn't Ilya Bryzgalov the most important Flyer in this series, good win and lose? These teams are so evenly matched that if he plays like he did in March the Flyers will be moving on.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:35 PM)

Huge X-factor no question, especially given his brutal performance in last year's playoffs

John (St. Louis)

Who is the biggest key for the Blues to make a deep run in the playoff? Halak? McDonald?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:36 PM)

I wrote about David Perron last night. To me he's the X-factor. Here's my story:http://espn.go.com/nhl/playoffs/2012/story/_/id/7798645/st-louis-blues-david-perron-shaken-cobwebs

Mike (IL)

With Toews coming back and Bolland's usual tendency to flip a switch for the playoffs is it safe to say the Hawks could have a huge momentum boost to possibly carry them far in the playoffs?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:36 PM)

Phoenix will be a tougher matchup than most Hawks fans realize or believe

patrickw76 (Perry, MI)

Instead of the 4 conferences, what if the league went to a system more like the MLB or NFL? Split the 'east' teams and 'west' teams to make it more even. So everyone has the same sort of travel.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:37 PM)

Good luck convincing the Atlantic and Northeast Division governors of that one. They love their short travel

Adam (Chicago)

It sounds like the Hawks are going to try Kane on the Left side with Toews and Hossa. Do you think that can work, or will they have to change that as the series goes on?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:38 PM)

I like it. Protects Toews a little by putting two stud linemates with him. Who knows how long it'll take Toews to find his game

Jim (Minneapolis)

The Pens/Flyers series is going to be great. One question, isnt the most important player in this series for the Pens Letang? He plays half the game and I would argue he is as important as any other player for the Penguins. The Pens depth behind Letang on D is lacking to say the least.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:39 PM)

Excellent point although you're short-changing Michalek and Orpik a little... Still, overall, I do agree Pens' D is their Achilles heel

GBK (Lincoln Park)

Pierre, how big is the return of Darren Helm to the lineup tonight? He gives them a huge piece on the PK, and the 3/4 lines look a lot better when he is in the lineup.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:40 PM)

Yup, I think you answered your own question there. Huge addition. Player you trust in key defensive situations

Tim (NJ)

Have you ever seen the Playoffs this well promoted? Love how every game is televised, so pumped.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:40 PM)

Um, I've live in Canada all my life so this is kind of normal where I'm from :)

Shawn (Toronto)

Pierre, why does the NHL playoff schedule make no sense? Years ago, one conference played one night, the other conference played the next night. You always knew the schedule. Now it's all muddled. Devils and Panthers have six days off before their series starts. For me, momentum is lost relative to the old method of scheduling and my interest wanes.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:41 PM)

Has to do with combination of arena availability plus national TV desires...

Scott (California)

Hey Pierre, With the Sharks going up against the Blues tomorrow do you honestly think the boys in teal can get pass the first round? To be honest I've never been more scared in my life. Like the line in the movie Super Troopers goes, I'M FREAKING OUT MAN

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:42 PM)

They'll definitely need the kind of A game they had in sweeping Dallas and LA to the end the year, and even a step above that. Blues are a terrific, well-organized team. They play the type of grind-it-out game that's well suited for the playoffs

Pat (WI)

Can the Pens make it and win the cup if they have to go through the Flyers, Bruins, and Rangers. I don't think a team can get past those threes teams and still have enough to win a cup. A team usually has to play at least one short series and none of them will be.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:43 PM)

Welcome to the reality of the Western Conference and why Vancouver was nearly crippled by the time it got to the Cup finals last year

Jason (Vancouver)

Playoffs!!! Playoffs!!! Playoffs!!! and Thank god for DVR's as the two best series are on at the same time tonight. Which one are you watching live Pierre? I can't stay away from the Pit/Phi but the Nsh/Det could be awesome.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:44 PM)

I'm covering the Blues-Sharks seriesWill defintely be watching other series on TV tonight

Patrick (Pittsburgh)

Fact the Penguins are the most hated team in the NHL, I was looking through the comments and someone said they hoped Crosby gets another concussion so they don't have to hear from him again! come on people take away hockey he's still a person! look at Pronger his career might be over!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:45 PM)

Pretty stupid for someone to have said that. Sometimes I just shake my head at what some fans will say

Kevin (Baltimore)

Hey Pierre, Thoughts on how the refs are going to call the Pens flyers game? Tight from the start, let them play. Matching minors to any after the play incidents not letting things get out of hand? What do you think?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:45 PM)

My guess is really really tight early to send a message

Kev (NYC)

The Pitt/Philly games have been high scoring with some weak goaltending, do you anticipate the same in this series?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:46 PM)

I expect lower scores in the series

Jason (Vancouver)

Everyone (including you above) think the Nashville Detroit series will be really close. I think the Preds are finally much better than the wings and should win in 5. Gill and Radulov put them way over the hump. You heard it here first :)

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:46 PM)

ok you've been heard !

Big T (Boston)

What's really stopping the Bruins from repeating?Rolston, Pouliot and full-time Tyler are enough to replace Recchi, Ryder and Horton.Don't give me that Pittsburgh crap. I'm not buying it.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:47 PM)

As I said earlier, they've definitely got a real shot at it

Jon (Chicago)

Assuming Captain Serious suits up tomorrow, do you expect any rust from Toews?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:48 PM)

yes some rust... hasn't played since Feb. 19.. that's tough

Rob (AZ)

If Halak loses a close game or two but still plays well and Elliot is healthy, do you see a switch happening?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:48 PM)

If they get down in the series, yes

Devin (Pittsburgh)

If the Sharks ever win the Cup and prove you right, who will you end up picking as your next preseason favorite?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:49 PM)

Columbus? haha.Just kidding.I can't see the Sharks winning the Cup this year.My West finals has Nashville-Vancouver in it

Steve (New York)

Its not the talent aspect that worries me for Kreider, he seems to have NHL level talent, its the team chemistry that has gotten the Rangers to where they are right now, so my question is, is it worth it to put Kreider into a trial by playoff fire, and risk the chemistry of a team that has taken its time to gel all season long?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:50 PM)

I wouldn't worry too much about that. One young palyer doesn't upset the apple cart

Kyle (CT)

Pierre why did the Red Wings have to get that extra point against Chicago, wouldn't have been smarter to take the 6th seed to play Phoenix

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:50 PM)

Kyle, you can't tell players to lose games. It's just not in their DNA

Ross (Vegas)

Pierre: With Carter back in the lineup and looking like Sedin is out tonight how good are the odds that the Kings can win this series?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:51 PM)

They're not great, but it's not impossible

Muneeb (New York, NY)

Why do so many people think the 1-8 and 2-7 series in the West will be lopsided? The Kings have scored 3 goals a game since the deadline, and with a great PK and Daniel Sedin not at 100% or out I think they have a great chance at the upset. If Niemi can rediscover the form he had in the final two rounds in 2010, the Sharks could easily upset the Blues, too.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:51 PM)

I picked Canucks in 7 and Sharks in 7 so clearly I don't think either series will be lopsided

Nick Rolando (Orlando)

Pierre, as a Blues fan, there is more incentive for this team and group of fans to see them win the series because of the dirty hit Joe Thornton put on Perron last year. There is bad blood here.

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:53 PM)

It's certainly a layer to this series, no question. But I spoke with David Perron yesterday and he insisted that's old news, he appreceiated Thornton reaching out to him before his first game back Dec. 2...

Mike (IL)

People need to quit ragging on you ESPN writers for "counting their team out" or whatever. Just relax and enjoy the fact your team is in the playoffs and relish the opportunity to prove people wrong as the underdog. It's much easier as a fan to have your team be the underdog than the one with humongous expectations on it. Much more enjoyable to rub it in people's faces too!

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:54 PM)

Always wonder why people get so worked up if I don't pick their team in a series. I mean, it's my job to pick a team, I can't pick both ! Nothing personal !

Tom (Chicago)

If there is one thing you can count on in these weekly chats, is Sergei going on a long, long rant...

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:55 PM)

haha, yup !

Matt (Astoria)

So nobody was willing to metnion it when it was relevent, so I'll keep trying. Why did the league bone the Avs so hard on end of season scheduling? Why did they have a week long layoff before their last two games? In what universe is that fair?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:56 PM)

All NHL teams ''sign off" on the schedule ahead of time. So your Avs would have accepted that schedule

Rich (Chicago)

Who's the best non ex nhler hockey player at ESPN?

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:57 PM)

Well, I grew up playing hockey in Northern Ontario and Burnside grew up near Windsor in SouthWestern Ontario... I always say the Northern boys have a leg up :)

Pierre LeBrun
  (4:58 PM)

OK, I've had enough of you guys. Just kidding... sort of... hahahaha..Enjoy the playoffs folks !