Chat with Barry Melrose
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose will drop by to take your questions about the NHL season.
Melrose re-joined ESPN after coaching the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first part of the 2008-09 season. He first started with ESPN after coaching the Los Angeles Kings to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals and was a commentator on ESPN and ABC since 1995. Melrose made his NHL debut with the Winnipeg Jets in 1979. A defenseman, he played for the Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings before retiring after the 1986 season.
Send your questions now and join Barry Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Barry Melrose (1:59 PM)
Hope everyone's enjoying the start of a great season. We have a lot of great surprises so far.
Tom [via mobile]
Your thoughts on the NHL cracking down on the hits from behind, head shots, etc.? How has it impacted the game so far this season?
Barry Melrose (2:01 PM)
I think for the better. I see players letting up, especially on hits from behind. There aren't nearly as many. I think the NHL will eventually try to come up with a rule eliminating hits to the head period. I'd like to see them eliminated faster. I love physical hockey, but you can't have players having their careers cut short. You look at Lindros, Staal, Savard, etc. Sidney Crosby is probably the poster boy for this.
Matt B (Florida)
Barry, do you think the lightning will continue to disappoint? Or do you think they are a lock for the playoffs still?
Barry Melrose (2:02 PM)
Nobody's a lock for the playoffs -- Chicago almost missed the playoffs last year after winning the Cup the year before. The Lightning are not playing well, alongside Florida and Carolina winning, but I think Tampa Bay will right their ship and start playing better.
What do you think of Matt Read so far? I can't believe he was unsigned out of college. So happy the Flyers snatched him up before anyone else could!
Barry Melrose (2:03 PM)
Don't forget, Marty St. Louis was unsigned too! Lots of great players fall through the cracks. I saw Read play in college and he was great. Never stopped believing in his ability, and now he's in the NHL. Great lesson for young players.
What's the deal with Ovi? It looks like he's trying to please everyone to me - I think he needs to get selfish, get pucks to the net and start scoring. Your thoughts?
Barry Melrose (2:04 PM)
Washington's 5-0, so you can't argue with the results. I agree that Ovechkin, for long-term success, needs to start putting the puck in the net more. But they've tightened up defensively, so maybe that doesn't lend itself to him scoring 50 or 60 goals anymore. They've determined that this is likely their best way to win a Stanley Cup.
DAN (Rochester, ny)
Is it time to push the panic button as a Canadiens fan? Will Montreal make a coaching change and give the job to Randy Cunneyworth?
Barry Melrose (2:05 PM)
I don't think so. They're a lot like Tampa Bay -- slow out of the gate, and there's too much skill on that team for them to flounder for very long. They'll get things turned around quickly. They had great playoff runs over the past few years, upsetting teams supposedly better than they were.
Barry, great work as always...my question is this...I feel this is kind of a must win game for the Bruins tonight considering that if they lose their record would be just 2-5-0...do you feel the same way or do you think it is too early for concern considering the season has just started
Barry Melrose (2:06 PM)
I think there's concern because of the way they're playing -- Lucic doesn't have a goal, Orton only has one. Those guys have to put the puck in the net. They've been getting good goaltending and can't blame that. I think they will get things turned around, and if these guys start scoring, I think they'll be fine.
Josh (Toronto) [via mobile]
If the Leaf's winning ways are real, does it make sense to break up working chemistry when Connoly is healthy by putting him in the top center spot, or is it better to leave him a healthy scratch until the Leafs start to lose?
Barry Melrose (2:08 PM)
I think you keep him out as long as possible. He gives you the luxury of you deciding when he comes in. I'm not a believer in changing a winning lineup. You can't break up Kessel's line because they're playing so well, and I don't think there's any rush there.
Berry, we all know that the NHL schedule can be exhausting with long road trips and back to back games. I feel that an area that is often under-addressed is that of back up goalies. Which team(s) do you feel holds an advantage in this area. Points by your back up goalies are pivitol in the long stretches.
Barry Melrose (2:10 PM)
If you look at who's got the best 1-2 punch in net, you have to look at the Bruins with Thomas and Rask, Vancouver with Schneider and Luongo, and the Kings with Bernier and Quick.
Rich (New York, New York)
Hey Barry - great job as always - have you heard any word on the condition of Marc Staal? He is obviously a vital piece of the puzzle for my Rangers and I am very concerned about this being a Sidney type thing where he is out for a year. thanks
Barry Melrose (2:11 PM)
We're all concerned with Marc. He's still not back playing and New York is very mum on the subject. With a concussion, the player has to be symptom-free for a period of time, practice at a high level, and be cleared by doctors. The decision will eventually be made by Staal himself.
Brayden Schenn flyers debut tonight, does he light the lamp?
Barry Melrose (2:12 PM)
I wouldn't doubt it. He's been eating the American League up. He's the key piece of the Richards deal. He'll play with good players and won't come into a bad team where he has to do everything. I would not be surprised at all if he scores in his first game.
Mike (San Diego)
The Blues have looked rough so far and it's looking like they highly overpaid for what Halak did in the playoffs a couple years back. Is he a viable solution in the net for them going forward?
Barry Melrose (2:13 PM)
He'd better be. They gave him a lot of money and traded a good young player to get him. They determined that he'd be their goaltender for a number of years. That's the risk you take when you sign a goaltender who had a great playoff series -- we've seen a lot of one-hit wonders. They have to get him to play well, because they're stuck with him.
Are my Red Wings the best team in the League right now?
Barry Melrose (2:14 PM)
You would think they would be one of the best. Their GAA is great. It's tough for them to stay healthy, but there are not many teams better than they are in the NHL right now. They play some tough teams coming up, so we'll know more soon.
Anton Luvv Delaware [via mobile]
Being a former Winnepeg Jet, are you glad the city now has an NHL franchise again?
Barry Melrose (2:15 PM)
Very much so. This is a great comeback story. Obviously they haven't started how they would have liked, but I don't think they'll be the worst team in the NHL. The success of Winnipeg will probably open up the door for a city like Quebec City to get a franchise. Great story for the NHL.
Who wins tonight, Washington or Philly?
Barry Melrose (2:16 PM)
I think Philly wins. Washington has won some games they shouldn't have.
Matt B (Florida)
Barry, have we seen the last of Sean Avery in the NHL?
Barry Melrose (2:17 PM)
Yes, I think we have. With the amount of baggage he has, he's not a good enough player to take that baggage on. He'll either finish in the American League this year, or get a buyout and go to Europe.
What do you think of the Blackhawk additions this year?
Barry Melrose (2:18 PM)
I like what the Blackhawks did. I like Brunette a lot, the veteran defensemen they got in Montador and O'Donnell. Three good pickups there for the Hawks.
Ryan (PA )
With the suspension to Letang and the injury to Strait, it seams perfect timing for Orbik to return. How much longer do you think the Pens can keep up the this depleated bench?
Barry Melrose (2:19 PM)
It's gonna be tough. Malkin is not healthy and Crosby is still not in. Letang has been their best player so far, I think, and even with a team as talented as Pittsburgh, there is a limit to how much they can lose. Big win last game for them after a loss on the road, and I think we'll find out a lot about Pittsburgh without Letang in the lineup for two games.
Jarrett (New York)
The Rangers powerplay continues to look as it did last year, do you see any improvement soon and do you see their last win as as something they will build on?
Barry Melrose (2:20 PM)
They won, but they were out played and outshot very badly by Vancouver. Lundqvist won that game for them. Brad Richards has not made a difference for them there yet. Gaborik as well should have helped them on the power-play, but it hasn't happened yet.
Kopitar's had a great start to this season. Gagne and Richards are fitting in perfectly. How far do you see this Kings team going?
Barry Melrose (2:21 PM)
Excellent team, one of the best teams in the west. They have a lot of weapons, great goaltending, good special teams. I wouldn't be surprised to see them go a long way in the playoffs.
Is Duncan Keith better off being paired with Seabrook or should Quenneville continue the #1 D pairing of Keith and Leddy?
Barry Melrose (2:22 PM)
I think how they're playing will dictate that. In a perfect world, you'd love to see them split up and go with three strong pairs, but if you go with Keith and Seabrook and play that pair more than the other four, that's a good combo. I'd love to see them split up as it would make for a better defensive team.
Are the Blue Jackets as bad as they appear?
Barry Melrose (2:23 PM)
No, they're not that bad. If you watch them play, they've been in every game. You look at Ottawa and they're giving up seven goals a game -- not the case with Columbus. We'll judge them when they get some of their key players back. They had a terrible start, but they're not as bad as their record indicates.
Did Kessel finally take the next step or is this just a streak?
Barry Melrose (2:24 PM)
I think he's taken the next step. He scored forty goals last year, and I think he's really blossomed into the go-to guy in Toronto. I don't think we'll see him fall by the wayside. We'll see another forty-goal season out of Kessel, and more importantly the Leafs will challenge for a playoff spot.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Thoughts on the Hurricanes in the first few weeks of the season? A little hiccup at the start but they seem to be settling down nicely.
Barry Melrose (2:25 PM)
Very much so. Cam Ward is giving them good goaltending every week, defense and special teams have picked up, and they're doing this without Eric Staal being a huge factor. Skinner is playing well, and they have some good young players. I think they'll be in the hunt for the last two playoff spots. Not as good as Philly or Washington, but definitely a threat to make the playoffs.
Matt (Chico, Ca)
Do you see the sharks improving on offense as the season continues?
Barry Melrose (2:26 PM)
They have to. They have too much talent to continue playing like this. Obviously they gave up a lot of offense, but right now they're not scoring. It's up their best players to start picking it up. Too much talent on that San Jose lineup to be that bad offensively for a long period of time.
Can a team like the Ducks without a dominant D-Man win the Cup?
Barry Melrose (2:27 PM)
I don't know if they can win it, but if you get in the playoffs, you have a chance to win the Cup, and they have a chance to make the playoffs. They have some good non-name defensemen, and they will definitely score a lot of goals.
Hey Barry,What are the chances that the Sabres try to move Miller in the next 2-3 seasons? I know it's a ways off, but Enroth appears to be the real deal, a former first-rounder who has played outstanding in his time in the league. Miller would command huge value, and is a highly marketable player.
Barry Melrose (2:28 PM)
That would be a tough deal -- the best goaltender in the NHL, an American kid, and a stalwart, and trading him. I think you'd see Enroth be traded before Miller.
Barry Melrose (2:28 PM)
I'm gonna be looking forward to that Philly-Washington game. I hope everyone else is too! Thanks everyone!