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!
If Howard can keep up his form, do you think the Wings have what it takes to make another run at the Cup?
Barry Melrose (2:02 PM)
I think the Wings are certainly one of the best teams in the NHL. I don't think right now they're as good as Vancouver or Chicago. But you're right, Jimmy Howard is playing fantastic. He's been playing well all year and he's the main reason why Detroit has stayed with the pack.
Hi Barry, is tonight the end of the mighty mighty Rangers run? Tha Sens look pretty good lately.
Barry Melrose (2:03 PM)
You're not going to win every game the rest of the year. Torts will have that team ready. Sometimes when you play important games, you tend to take lightly a lesser opponent, but I don't see that happening with the Rangers.
What do you think of the Chicago youngsters (Hayes, Shaw, etc.) play so far? Trade bait for a bigger piece or here to stay?
Barry Melrose (2:04 PM)
I think Chicago will determine how they look at the deadline. Is there something out there they want. If they want something at the deadline, teams want young players back, draft picks back. That's what teams want. They'll be trade bait if they think they need another piece.
With the NHLPA not accepting the reallignment does that mean Winnepeg stays in the SouothEast division next year?
Barry Melrose (2:05 PM)
Yes, it does. For just one more year. I think this was a bargaining chip for the CBA. Down the road, the players will say, we want this and for that we'll give you the realignment deal. That's what will happen. But for next year, Winnipeg will have to stay in the Southeast.
Tim (new jersey)
Hey Barry my question is do you think the flyers have any chance of trading for Shea Weber i had heard rumors about it before Weber got his concussion. Also if not Shea Weber what other defenseman do you see the flyers going after.
Barry Melrose (2:06 PM)
I do. I think the Flyers have always been very aggressive. With Pronger's injury they have cap room. They have young players that the Preds would want. You can get involved in any deal with you have pieces to deal. I think the Flyers will be one of those teams if Nashville wants to deal.
Hey Barry, great scarf you had on during the Winter Classic. You're like a caffeine free Don Cherry! Considering the woes of Columbus, Phoenix, and Long Island.. do you see an NHL return to Quebec City in the next couple of years?
Barry Melrose (2:07 PM)
Yeah, I do. With the success of Winnipeg, that will change how the NHL looks at a small market Canadian team. Phoenix would be a team that might move. Quebec could work. Canada is hockey crazy right now.
Matt (Pittsburgh )
Barry, I know we have alot of injuries but what else is there wrong with my penguins??
Barry Melrose (2:08 PM)
It's just the injuries. Crosby, Letang. They were able to overcome those injuries. But now it's Staal. That's too many star players even for the Penguins to overcome. They have to get some of those guys back. Just getting Staal or Letang back would be huge.
Barry, I do believe Marchands hit should warrant a suspension but 5 games seems a little over the top. I think 2 would have been more than enough considering that type of hit doesn't even get called half the time.
Barry Melrose (2:09 PM)
I would agree with that. I would think three because of his history. But I have no problem with the suspension. When Marchand comes back, he can't play any other way. He's not a big man. He is not overly skilled. He has to get his nose dirty. I will be watching him when he comes back. If he's the same player, he'll help the Bruins. If he changes, I don't think he'll be in the league very long.
Barry who wins in Boston tonight Bruins or Habs?
Barry Melrose (2:10 PM)
The Habs are a mess. There is a lot of stuff going on in Montreal right now. The only way you could see Montreal winning is if Boston takes them lightly. They've played a lot of tough games lately, so this could be a night they take off. But this is an Original Six matchup. But Montreal is a mess right now.
Jason (Ross, WA)
The Wild have had a very up and down year. Do they have what it takes to make a cup run or is this all just a fluke?
Barry Melrose (2:11 PM)
I think that if the Wild make the playoffs, they've had a heckuva year. But when they've been winning it's been because of goaltending. That's how they have to play. If that slips at all, they're in trouble. They have injuries now. If they hold on for the playoffs, that's a very successful year.
Thoughts on Devils getting hot and finally making a run? thoughts on that first line of kovy henrique and parise, and will parise re-sign?
Barry Melrose (2:13 PM)
Very intersting. They played well last night, beating Edmonton. The defense is tightening up. Parise is playing well. Henrique is playing well. The Devils are a good team right now. They're a top 8 team in the East. We didn't see that at the beginning of the year.
Should Scott Hartnell have been named an allstar? Ovechkin certainly should not be there.
Barry Melrose (2:14 PM)
You have to understand the all-star game is about popularity and not necessarily for good hockey players. Hartnell has had a good year. Has he played better than Ovechkin? Of course. But who would the fans rather see? Don't get too wrapped up about it. It's more about popularity than how good of a player you are.
Brad (STL )
Can the Blues keep it up all year?
Barry Melrose (2:15 PM)
They've kept it up for 30 games. I see no reason to think that they're going to fall by the wayside. Injuries are always a problem. I don't see this team dropping. This team will be tough in the playoffs.
While no doubt Chicago is a very talented team and your pick as stanley cup finalist. Do you not think that their lack of depth will hurt them as they go deeper into the playoffs? It seems that they rely on their top guys to play and produce alot
Barry Melrose (2:16 PM)
No. Sharp is gone right now and they need him back. They've been experimenting with a second line center, but this is an experienced team. They'll work on getting a couple of depth guys come the deadline, but this is a very good hockey team and one that will be playing well come playoff time.
Barry, What seems to be the issue with Nashville's up and down play this year? Do you think they can make the playoffs?
Barry Melrose (2:17 PM)
They don't have a lot of scoring. If that scoring goes into a drought, their team struggles. They've always been a defense first team. They're an excellent team with a great defense, but at times, they're offensively challenged.
Whats your take on the Colorado Avalanche? They have 47 points and are two points out of the 8th spot. Its frustrating watching this team lose with all these young talented players. What do they need to do to stay competitive in the very competitive west? Do you think they need to make a move at the deadline for a top 6 forward? or just wait and continue to build through the draft?
Barry Melrose (2:18 PM)
When you have youth, that's what you're going to get, ups and downs. We've seen Colorado go on good win streaks, but mind boggling losing streaks. When these guys mature and good pros that play hard every night they'll be something special. If they can hang around that playoff spot and give them a chance to make it at the end of the year, that's a pretty good season for the Avalanche.
Mike (New York)
Do you think Washington will make a run in the second half of the season and be a factor if the playoffs?
Barry Melrose (2:19 PM)
They have what it takes. They're still one of the most talented teams in the NHL. You have Ovechkin, Semin, etc. This is a talented crew. They're talented enough to turn things around, but they've shown no indication that they can beat the Bostons of the world or the Rangers or Philadelphias of the world.
Who is your pick to win the SouthEast division? Do the Cats hold on or doesw Washington or Winnepeg climb in there?
Barry Melrose (2:20 PM)
Right now, I still think Florida is the best team in the Southeast. They have a good power play. They play a team game. Washington, I can't believe in them. The Jets aren't there. Tampa Bay plays good one game, bad the next.
How big of a surprise has the St. Louis Blues been this season? How far in the Playoffs do you think they will go?
Barry Melrose (2:21 PM)
To me to play this well this long is a surprise. But this is a team that's shown signs the last couple of years. Injuries killed them last year. With Hitchcock at the helm and a demanding coach....this team drafted high for a number of years. This is a very good young team and they're showing everyone how good they are.
Jeramie (Canandaigua NY)
If Lindy is let go in Buffalo who would you see takeing his place?
Barry Melrose (2:22 PM)
I think he's going to be fired. That's certainly true. Buffalo is a disappointment this year. If he's fired, that would be a very attractive job. The owner will spend money and is very aggressive. That's a good spot for a coach.
Jonny (Seattle Thunderbirds Back Office)
Biggest suprise/disappointment of the 1st half?
Barry Melrose (2:23 PM)
If we're going to go disappointment, it has to be Washington. This is a team that we thought would go after a Stanley Cup. They fired their coach. They should be fighting with the Rangers and Boston. The biggest surprise, you have to look at Florida. They haven't made the playoffs in 10 years and they have home ice in the first round right now.
Barry Melrose (2:24 PM)
And the Anaheim Ducks are a huge disappointment as well.
How big of a problem will it be for the Blackhawks to stay near the top of the west with Sharpy's injury. Can Stalberg make of for the loss in production?
Barry Melrose (2:25 PM)
Pittsburgh's had to play without Crosby all year. Philly hasn't had Pronger. That's a part of a good team, overcoming injuries. It's a chance for others to play better than they have been. You have to be able to overcome injury to one guy if you want to be a good team.
Mike (Long Island)
The Rangers are having a great season. Do you think they have what it takes to win the cup or do they need another piece?
Barry Melrose (2:26 PM)
They have a good team. Lundqvist in net could be the best goaltender right now. Getting Richards has made them a better team. Gaborik is on fire. They're a very good hockey team. At the deadline they'll be looking to get deeper, but they're a very good team right now.
Chris (Portland Winterhawks back office.)
Your Hart trophy goes to........
Barry Melrose (2:27 PM)
Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs. He's done more with less help than anyone in the NHL. Toronto is in the playoffs. Everybody else has a better supporting cast and right now he's still second in scoring. Right now, he's my MVP.
With Gm. Mike Gillis saying the canucks are open for business have you heard any rumors about the team? and what do you expect them to go after at the trade deadline. also known as should i take the day off from work cause they will do something good?
Barry Melrose (2:28 PM)
Yeah, I see them making some moves. They're a good team, but they have some holes to fill. The teams that are very close to winning the Cup will be aggressive at the deadline. Boston, Rangers, Detroit those kinds of teams will be aggressive at the deadline.
Barry Melrose (2:29 PM)
I hope everyone enjoyed the first half of the season. No reason to think the second half won't be even better.