Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside will stop by to chat about the NHL's latest news and events.
Before joining ESPN in 2005, he was a reporter for the Windsor Star and Toronto Sun. Burnside has won numerous awards, including the 1990 National Newspaper Award, and also co-authored the best-selling true crime book "Deadly Innocence" in the mid-1990s. He is based in Atlanta.
Send your questions now and join Burnside on Monday at 4 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (4:00 PM)
So, where were we?
John (Marshall, Mn)
So Scott, since you picked the Avs to be last, is my team for real or just really overachieving?
Scott Burnside (4:04 PM)
John; I admit it, this might be the worst pre-season pick since I had the Canucks winning the Cup out of the lockout. They missed the playoffs. By virtue of my track record the Avs are on pace for at least a berth in the conference final. But seriously, it's hard to imagine this can continue. It's a long season for youngsters like O'Reilly and Duchene to keep up this pace. But if Craig Anderson is the real deal - and he me might be - no reason the Avs can't hang around for a post-season berth.
Adam (Lake George, NY)
A lot of people picked the Sabres to miss the playoffs this year. Currently, they're up there with the best of the best. Will this dominance continue, or will Buffalo fall to a 5-8 spot in the East?
Scott Burnside (4:05 PM)
Adam; I can answer this question because I'm pretty sure I picked the Sabres to make the playoffs. With Boston struggling I think the Sabres have a legitimate shot at winning a pretty ordinary Northeast Division. Lots of interesting parts to the Sabres line-up right now. Reminds me a bit of their teams coming out of the lockout.
It seems we've seen the same quick start in offensive stats that we usually see at the beginning of the season. However, this season some of the numbers are even larger than normal. What do you set the number at for Goals and Points leaders at the end of the season. I'm guessing 68 and 125.
Michael (Santa Barbara )
Hey Scott, you think Anze Kopitar can keep up his torrid pace? pretty impressive of late
Scott Burnside (4:09 PM)
Ben and Michael; Sorry for double-dipping these questions but they are related. Agreed that the early numbers for lots of players whether it's Kopitar or Ovechkin, even the much-maligned Dustin Penner, are impressive. And i wouldn't be surprised to see the top end goal scorer get between 65 and 70 which I think speaks to the maturing of young talent like Kopitar, Ovechkin and a guy like Marian Gaborik in a better place than he has been (and healthy of course). As for Kopitar, I know GM Dean Lombardi felt it was critical that Kopitar took that big step forward and so far so good. Assuming health I think he's a top-five point/goal producer. And if he's that then the Kings will be back to the post-season.
Ok, elephant in the room from this weekend, the Richards hit on Booth, fair/foul? While technically legal, there is no place in hockey for head shots. Another promising young player gets a concussion that may ruin his career just because Richards wanted to take him out of the game (he knew what he was doing and he knew what he wanted to happen). I don't think Richards intended to send him to the hospital, but he was certainly looking to knock him out of the game. What will it take for the NHL to put an end to headshots? Is Richards getting the star treatment? I bet there would have been suspension for Ruutu, Laraque or Carcillo.
Scott Burnside (4:13 PM)
Loup; I think it was yet another fumble by the NHL in handling supplemental discipline. Regardless of whether Richards is a good guy or not is moot. He delivered a dangerous hit to a vulnerable opponent and should have been suspended immediately. The NHL pays lip service to wanting to stop blows to the head and hits from behind (while we're at it I thought it was a disgrace Tuomo Ruutu got just three games for sending Darcy Tucker to the hospital). The problem is there is no real consensus about what the GMs, the real power brokers in the game, want when it comes to these hits. One of these days it's going to be too late when someone gets paralyzed or worse.
Can you confirm that x-rays on Kovalchuk's foot were negative and he's just ot 1-2 weeks? Heard that here locally but haven't yet seen it picked up on major outlets.
Scott Burnside (4:17 PM)
Just sent the news release to my desk. Kovalchuk is out four weeks with a broken foot.
Can Toronto continue their horrid play? Will the Bruins be getting a top-three pick out of this mess?
Scott Burnside (4:18 PM)
Leo; Let's just say it's going to be a pretty sweet day next June for Peter Chiarelli - assuming he doesn't deal the pick for a stud forward at the trade deadline. In other words, he's sitting on a number-one pick. Maybe number twoj courtesy of the Leafs.
Thanks for your piece about how isn't doing enough to discourage head-shots. I agree whole-heartedly. What, specifically, should the NHL have done in the Richards case?
Scott Burnside (4:19 PM)
Erik; You're welcome. I would have started at five games and gone from there. To me there has to be some sort of recognition of the damage done as the result of a dangerous or reckless play.
Steve (Jax, FL)
With Kovalchuk out for 4 weeks, is there any chance the Thrashers continue their good start?
Scott Burnside (4:21 PM)
Steve; Sure. This is a team with plenty of firepower but have struggled with their consistency early in games. I think Ondrej Pavelec is the real deal in net and the blue line is as good as it's ever been.
Also on the topic of cheap shots, what is your opinion on the Scuderi hip check from last night's game on Chimera? Scuderi squatted down so far that contact was made just a couple inches above the knees. I love hip checks and it is kind of a lost art form in today's game, but knee checks? really?
Scott Burnside (4:23 PM)
Loup; Glad you brought this one up. I thought this was more borderline. Replay showed Scuderi got lower than he probably wanted but I don't think this was a Bryan Marchment type of thing at all. I wasn't bothered by the lack of a penalty call - although you can tell Ken Hitchcock et al don't share my view on this.
Chris (Irvine, Ca)
Are the LA Kings for real this year, or will they fade?
Scott Burnside (4:25 PM)
Chris; I think there is reason to believe (to steal a line from Bruce Springsteen). Goaltending is solid and the blue line is more stable plus there is now as much depth up front as there's been in L.A. for a long time. Leadership with guys like Ryan Smyth, Rob Scuderi, Sean O'Donnell.
Re: the leafs trade of the draft pick, are they allowed to lottery protect the picks like they do in the nba?
Scott Burnside (4:28 PM)
Bob; I don't know what that means but in the NHL the bottom five clubs all have a shot at the first overall pick but a team cannot lose more than one place. So if Toronto finishes 30th the worst the Bruins can do is get the second overall pick and have the highest probability of getting the first and so-on. Make sense?
don cherry had some new remarks about OV and the fact that somewhere down the line he'll get his share of what goes around comes around. He also said OV would never drop his gloves. I know the Caps wouldn't want him to but whats your take on superstars fighting?
Scott Burnside (4:30 PM)
Tom; That's always the argument for having guys like Donald Brashear in your line-up is that they fight so stars like Ovechkin don't have to. It's why we remember so vividly a tilt like the Jarome Iginla/Vincent Lecavalier dust-up in the '04 finals because they are so rare. I agree that playing as physical as Ovechkin does he will at some point get as good as he's giving. But somehow I don't think that bothers him too much. Lots of top players - think Gordie Howe - developed reputations as guys who were more than a little dirty.
Hey scott, Are you surprised with the Blackhawks finding a great goaltender in Niemi?
Scott Burnside (4:33 PM)
Dylan; Let's hold judgment on terms like 'great' until he's played more than four NHL games. Still, never a bad thing to have a young goalie to put some pressure on your incumbent.
Scott, Which do you think is the real Rangers? The first 8 games or the last 3 games?
Scott Burnside (4:35 PM)
John; Hate to be wishy-washy but likely somewhere in between. This is an incredibly young defense (four guys carrying the freight under the age of 23) and that means you're going to see some games like Saturday's back and forth affair with the Habs. But they're better up front than a year ago and the kids are going to get better - unless they get worse of course.
scott, is ryan miller one of the top 5 goalies in the whole nhl?
Scott Burnside (4:39 PM)
Dave; That's pretty heady company if you consider Brodeur, Luongo, Mason, Lundqvist and I think durability is an issue for Miller. If he can stay healthy and if the Sabres are the real deal he may get a look at a Vezina. I think when the Sabres were so good in '06 and '07 there was so much emphasis on the offense the Miller got overlooked. Less likely to happen now. Right now, though, who do you start for the U.S. in Vancouver Craig Anderson or Ryan Miller? Interesting dilemma for Brian Burke.
What will happen with Savard? I believe he wants a big contract and I dam not sure if the Bruins can afford it. Should I be prepared to see Savard with the Leafs next year?
Scott Burnside (4:39 PM)
Ace; No. I think Savard ends up in Boston. Just a hunch.
as a Shark fan i was angered at first about Marleau losing the c job i felt he was being disrespected but after seeing how he has been playing maybe it was a good thing for him and Heatley so far has been a pleasant suprise
Scott Burnside (4:40 PM)
brian; Agreed. Maybe he's just not cut out to be the captain. Remember when they took the 'C' away from Vincent Lecavalier in Tampa and it allowed him to focus on being a player not something more. Marleau's been around a long time but off to a great start which will quiet all of those who wanted him shipped out of town. At least until the first round of the playoffs.
Is Price still the #1 goalie in Montreal?
Scott Burnside (4:41 PM)
Jack; No. Jaroslav Halak I think deserves that title at this point. Of course in Montreal that's a relative, often fleeting thing.
Do you think we are seeing a young promising goalie in Jonathan Quick of LA?
Scott Burnside (4:43 PM)
Dylan; We were talking earlier about how important Anze Kopitar taking a step forward was for the Kings. Quick's evolution is likewise critical for a team that has long been without steady goaltending. It's still early but you've got to like what Quick brings to the table in terms of his size and quickness.
Come on Scott, there's no question Burke would start Ryan Miller in goal. Yes, Anderson's stats are impressive but has he ever even played in a playoff game? Miller atleast has been to two Eastern Conference finals.
Scott Burnside (4:45 PM)
Mickey; I will give you that but Miller hasn't played in a post-season game since '07 so I think that pretty much wipes the slate clean if Anderson continues his current play. Also, just to play devil's advocate, I think you could argue Anderson has done more to secure his team's success than Miller. Just saying.
Scott, can we get rid of this experiment of not letting the goalies play the puck in the corners?
Scott Burnside (4:46 PM)
brian; I am with you. I think the no-play rule hasn't had nearly the impact they thought it would. I think it's better for goalies to stray, more potential for miscues. Plus, I'd like to see goalies be fair game if they play the puck outside the crease. But that's just me.
Craig G. (Fairfield, California)
Hey Scott, I know it's early, but which team is your most pleasant surprise so far?
Scott Burnside (4:48 PM)
Craig; I think there are a few; the Avalanche obviously. Phoenix has been getting terrific goaltending although I'm not sure their offense can keep them in the hunt. And Dallas has been better than I thought they were going to be.
Did you see Tim Thomas' performance against Ottawa?
Scott Burnside (4:51 PM)
Bob; Saw bits of it while flicking around. Stopped 27 of 30. Looked a little bit more like Vezina Tim than earlier this season.
Alisa (Orange County, California)
Everyone thought that the Philadelphia Flyers were going to challenge the Penguins for the top spot in the division, and perhaps the conference. Philly has come out of the starting gate, slow. Can they turn it around? Or are they biding their time and just making sure they make the playoffs and then they'll turn it on?
Scott Burnside (4:52 PM)
Alisa; I don't any team really 'bides its time' given the parity in the league. You can bide yourself right out of home ice advantage, as the Flyers did a year ago, or out of the playoffs altogether. I think their up and down start is a function of working in a new netminder and some new faces up front not to mention a big-time minute-muncher in Chris Pronger on the back end. I still like them to be a force come playoff time.
Mike (Syracuse NY)
Regarding the Capitals, do you think GM George Mcfee is comfortble with Jose Theodore and Varlamov in net. Varlamov has shown we can be great, but also that he is young and inexperienced. Do you see the Caps making a move for another net minder or no? and when the playoffs come who do you think will be the guy Varly of Jose?
Scott Burnside (4:54 PM)
Mike; I think that's going to be an ongoing issue for the Caps. The fact Bruce Boudreau was quick to yank Theodore in the first round last year will be remembered regardless of how well Theodore plays this season - and he's been pretty good really. Varlamov is the wild card. Can he get enough experience during the regular season to gain the confidence of the rest of the team come playoff time? That's a pretty tall order.
Just cause your american doesn't mean Canada doesn't listen to your insight!! Answer my question from Canada Scott... How do you see the Oilers doing this yr
Scott Burnside (4:57 PM)
Easy Matt; I still have a Canadian passport. Just don't tell Canada Customs. I think the Oil will be in a dogfight to capture one of the final two or three playoff spots. Khabibulin will have to be sharp/healthy and the Oilers are pretty young, especially down the middle. Getting Sheldon Souray back in the line-up - and keeping him there - would be a help.
Mike (New York)
I Think hits to the head and from behind are also happening at an alaming pace in youth hockey....The NHL has to take the lead with this. A precedent must be set, and a strong message at the youth levels must be set.
Scott Burnside (4:59 PM)
Mike; It's funny how the standards for officiating have trickled down through the ranks and you don't see as much clutching and grabbing in junior/college etc. But it's the respect/discipline that is an issue. My impression of major junior is that there is a zero tolerance plan on hits to the head, 'legal' or not. I guess that's the issue the NHL can't seem to get, er, it's head around, is whether there is a 'legal' hit to the head. Right now there is and it's putting players at risk.
Steve (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Alexander Semin is in my opinion one of the most skilled NHL forwards in the game. Some argue that his stick handling skills are even better than Ovie.. But he consistently makes bad deicsions that lead to odd-man breaks and he also takes undisiplined untimely penalties. Does the good outweight the bad??
Scott Burnside (5:00 PM)
Steve; I think that's a fair and accurate assessment of Mr. Semin. I think there are lots of questions about his head for the game. Raw talent galore but until he learns to think the game at a higher level he will never achieve what he's capable of achieving.
Jeremy (San Francisco)
Hey Scott,I'm a sharks fan, (I won't ask any questions about them till April) and I thought our big rivals this year for the Pacific would be the Ducks. Do you think Anaheim will find their legs or will they fall flat this year?
Scott Burnside (5:01 PM)
Jeremy; Agreed that the Ducks have been a big disappointment so far this year. They haven't got off to great starts since winning the Cup but I still think they are a playoff team.
Scott Burnside (5:01 PM)
Okay folks. Have a great Hallowe'een. See you next Monday.