Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, 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 Thursday at 1 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (1:01 PM)
Greetings all. Just back from Toronto, Hall of Fame, GMs' meetings and a look at how the U.S. Olympic team is coming together. Busy time and it's only going to get busier as we move into the second quarter. Now, where were we?
Ed (Queens Village)
Can Lightning play at about .500 till Stamkos return?
Scott Burnside (1:03 PM)
Ed; Hard to know the answer to that question until we know just when 'return' is going to happen. I think they'll have to be better than .500 to make the playoffs but I also think the play of Ben Bishop in goal and the better team defense gives the Bolts a great shot at being in the mix regardless of how long Stamkos is sidelined.
Mike H (Baltimore, MD)
This must be a misprint.....the CAPS are only 1 point behind the Pens? What's going on in Steeltown?
Scott Burnside (1:05 PM)
Mike; Funny. I looked at the standings this morning and thought the exact same thing. The Penguins have caught the Metro Malaise. Must be a bit troubling for Dan Bylsma and Ray Shero that as good as they've been defensively and in goal they can't get it going offensively. Still, hard to imagine this is anything but a blip on the radar and that they'll reassert themselves as the cream of the albeit murky Metropolitan Division.
Chris (Ithaca, NY)
So, have the Flyers turned the corner? Could we be looking at a team that might sneak into the the playoffs and do damage 2010 style?
Scott Burnside (1:07 PM)
Chris; As another questioner noted the Flyers seem to have been a lot better since being bombed by the Caps in that infamous tilt that saw Ray Emery take on a reluctant Braden Holtby. Not sure you can necessarily draw a line from A to B but definitely been better on both sides of the puck and getting some production from Vincent Lecavalier, Jakob Voracek et al is key. The bigger catalyst may have been the acquisition of Steve Downie in what ranks as a very curious deal by the Avs.
What do you think of the Panthers new coaching staff? Any hope for my team? Still hoping a trade pans out soon!
Scott Burnside (1:09 PM)
Dara; So hard to tell whether it really is about a new voice, new systems for the Panthers or if Dale Tallon is going to have to do a wholesale reworking of a line-up that for the past two seasons has either been banged up or underachieving. First order of business has to be the goaltending as neither Tim Thomas nor Jacob Markstrom have been consistent enough to help a team that needs all kind of help covering up their defensive mistakes.
B-Diddy (Munstoeville, WYO)
Duchene for MVP? Seems like he's still scratching the surface of his potential but he's over a PPG. Who do you like in COL/STL tonight?
Scott Burnside (1:11 PM)
B-Diddy; If the Avs continue to go like they've been going and end up a solid playoff team by April Duchene will get a long look. He is the engine driving what is at this stage a finely-tuned machine. Just filed a piece on Alex Steen setting up tonight's game and it should be a dandy. Wimpy answer but I'll go Avs 3-2 in a shootout.
JimmyZ (Parts Unknown)
Phil Kessel is disliked/not as respected as other star players by many fans because.................
Scott Burnside (1:13 PM)
JimmyZ; Not sure he's necessarily disliked but he definitely has a lower profile than most top players and I think it goes to his personality. Have dealt with him a bit and think he's just naturally one of those people who prefers not to have to deal with the star element, answering questions about himself, speaking to the media and being part of the 'face' of a franchise. Some guys never get over that. I think his play and his numbers do the talking for him and if you had to sort out that trade now it's a lot less one-sided than it looked like it was going to be in favor of Boston for the longest time.
Can Kevin Poulin right the Isles goaltending issueand bring them out of the funk they've been in? He's looked good so far.
Scott Burnside (1:16 PM)
AM: Poulin has been slowly building a case for himself as the heir to the Isles' goaltending throne but I think there are still too many questions about his consistency and his ability to do this over the long haul. Given how poorly Evgeni Nabokov played in the playoffs last year and similar up and down play through the first quarter I still see this is as the key area the Isles are going to have to address if they're a) going to make the playoffs and b) be anything other than first-round fodder again.
Ali Nagib (Chicago)
Is the (current) large divide between the quality in the East and West still going to be a big story at the end of the season? Are we going to have a team in the West like LA (currently 9th) miss the playoff that would win their division if they were in the East (see: Metro division)?
Scott Burnside (1:18 PM)
Ali Nagib; The NHL sure hopes not. And I do think we'll see things even out as time passes this season. It is startling, though, just how dominant the west is right now both in terms of record versus the east and the sheer dominance of the teams. The Pacific is unbelievable as you note and it's hard to see that changing all that much.
Do the Kings finally make a trade with all the injuries they've had pile up in the last few weeks (Carter, Quick, Greene, Clifford, Stoll)?
Scott Burnside (1:20 PM)
Lordmaster; I think the one to watch is Quick who suffered some sort of groin/core body pull the other night. That might prompt Dean Lombardi to pick up the phone but my guess is he'll take a real good look at some of the top-end talent that has been chomping at the bit in Manchester in the AHL before trading some of those pieces off. Those kinds of moves I am guessing will take place closer to the deadline unless Quick is gone long-term in which case maybe he takes a run at Ryan Miller who has strong ties to the west coast and would no doubt relish a chance to play there.
What do you think of the Leafs Sabres game tonight? First time since Scott tried to fight Kessel in pre-season. Could this game get out of control?
Scott Burnside (1:22 PM)
Keith; Should be interesting but I'm guessing the Sabres, at least, will want to be on their best behavior for new head coach Ted Nolan and head of hockey ops Pat Lafontaine and if this is a long tryout session the last thing anyone, especially a guy like Scott whose career I would think hangs by a threat, will want to do is take foolish penalties. But it's Toronto/Buffalo so one never really knows how this will play out.
Who is your pick for the next GM in Buffalo?
Scott Burnside (1:25 PM)
Steve; Pat Lafontaine has not called for my advice; yet. But I do like the idea of Rick Dudley coming home to try and fix this mess but there are some young guys like Ron Hextall, Claude Loiselle in Toronto, Jason Botterill in Pittsburgh and Tom Kurvers in Tampa who should get a good, long look from Lafontaine.
Ted Nolan back in Buffalo.... surprised by this?
Scott Burnside (1:27 PM)
Geoff; Perhaps but there is a kind of interesting symmetry going on here and it's not like Nolan isn't familiar with the job. I think he's a good coach and really it's about implementing structure and some sort of order to a chaotic situation and I think he'll be a good fit. Long-term? That will depend on how things go in the short-term and whomever ends up as GM and whether he believes Nolan is the fit moving forward.
With only a +5 goal differential and many of their wins coming in a shoot out or overtime, are my Coyotes the real deal right now? I had doubts but with the offense rolling steadily and Smith starting to stand tall I'm gaining confidence in them. thoughts?
Scott Burnside (1:29 PM)
Dean; Definitely been a strange first quarter for the 'Yotes as they've rolled up offense most wouldn't have predicted but have not been as stingy on the defensive side of the puck. Talked to Dave Tippett about this a couple of weeks ago and he said the coaching staff had really tried to bring the group back to the Coyote way. I think their recent play including a big win over St. Louis on Tuesday, reflects the message got through. West as discussed is so tough but I do like the make-up of that lineup and Mike Smith's ability to get absolutely red hot when it comes to potential playoff success.
Given the current injuries, do you think the pens will move a defenseman as many speculated when the season started? So much depth but as this season has shown, no one can predict when injuries will occur. Do you expect a guy like Niskanen or Orpik to be moved and if so what would you expect the return package to be?
Scott Burnside (1:31 PM)
Pat; I think Ray Shero will ride this out a bit. I think his biggest issue notwithstanding an injury to a core skater is how the goaltending is going to shake down. If Tomas Vokoun isn't going to be available he needs to find a goalie that can play behind M.A. Fleury with the knowledge that he may have to play big playoff minutes. Shero isn't likely to know until early in the New Year on that so my guess is he keeps his powder dry for the foreseeable future.
Rich (Bayonne, NJ)
The Wings are loaded with prospects and have too many forwards. Isn't it about time for Holland to trade for a legit sniper or a top 2 defenseman?
Scott Burnside (1:33 PM)
Rich; Problem is even if Ken Holland wanted to go that route with Thomas Vanek gone to Long Island (and no way Holland would have paid the price the Islanders paid for him) there just aren't guys that fit that bill waiting to be plucked. The guy I'm curious about as we move forward is Mike Cammalleri in Calgary. Looks good and would be a boon to a team looking to add a complimentary piece at the deadline and he'd look good in Red Wing red and white but there are probably half a dozen teams that would or will feel the same way.
Do you expect Miller to be moved with Buffalo's recent change in management?
Scott Burnside (1:35 PM)
Jake; I don't really think the changes will alter either side's view of this. Hard to imagine Ryan Miller wanting to stick around for a rebuild that is likely two to three years from yielding results and the Sabres will need to try and take advantage of an asset like Miller. The issue will be timing; does Lafontaine pull this deal off or does he hire a GM in time to make this move? Goalies are so hard to move as we saw last year with Roberto Luongo so the sooner something happens the better for everyone involved.
Zeke (Mendham, NJ)
In a similar vein to the earlier Flyers question--Do you think the Devils have also turned it around? I was pretty despondent earlier in the season, but their goaltending and defense are starting to look very Devils-like. And Elias hasn't even played that much yet this year with a bunch of minor ailments.
Scott Burnside (1:36 PM)
Zeke; How great is the Martin Brodeur 'I guess I'm not really a back-up after all' story. Good for him and for the Devils. Can they continue to generate enough offense to compliment the terrific goaltending tandem? I remain skeptical but it is the Metro Division so they could end up winning the thing.
What do you think of Kadri's antics the other night? Was there a lack of retaliation - both hits were cheap and it looks like he's at least going to get a call from the league. Mike Yeo even acknowledged in the postgame interview that Minn couldnt match Toronto's toughness. Do you think that this only encourages GM's to think about keeping a career goon? Does Kadri run around like that if the Wild employ Steve Macintyre? This seems to be the reoccurring question everyone seems to be avoiding.
Scott Burnside (1:41 PM)
Sean; First off I didn't like the shot to the head along the boards and my guess is that he'll get a game, maybe two. As for the team toughness issue that's the age-old question did the Leafs take liberties because they knew the Wild aren't built to answer with like-minded play? Or would it have happened regardless because that's how the Leafs play? Not sure of the answer but it still amazes me that there are a handful of guys making pro athlete money in the NHL whose only job is to skate around for four minutes a night scaring the beejeebers out of the opposing team.
Scott - can we all agree now that the Predators simply aren't talented enough as constructed? Even without the obvious goalie issues... rolling 4 even lines works well when it works but there seems to be such a small margin for error
Scott Burnside (1:43 PM)
Body; I'm not sure I entirely agree. When Ryan Suter and Shea Weber patrolled the blue line it was a great equalizer and allowed Barry Trotz to rely on the balanced attack of which you speak. Seth Jones isn't close yet to being Ryan Suter but he's going to be that good. Once you see Roman Jossi and Jones reach their potential and assuming we see Pekka Rinne return to form I think the Preds are in the playoff hunt. But it will begin and end with Rinne so no doubt these are nervous times around the Music City.
How likely is a Hiller trade at some point before the deadline?
Scott Burnside (1:47 PM)
Alex; Well it's pretty safe to say the Predators folks have been talking to the Ducks folks about their plethora of quality NHL goaltending. Hiller will be a UFA this summer and although he's played well the feeling is he will be the odd man out with Viktor Fasth, Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, the top prospect tearing up the AHL, all capable of quality starts in the NHL. That said GM Bob Murray will be very cautious about upsetting the karma of a team that has been very, very good even if many hockey fans have overlooked the Ducks' play.
Aside from St Louis and Bishop which Lightning player needs to step up the most to help with the loss of Stamkos's offensive output?
Scott Burnside (1:51 PM)
John; Cliche is that it will have to be scoring by committee and there is some truth to that but if I had to look at one guy it would be Teddy Purcell. He has one goal in 12 games after starting the season strongly. He's got good skills and my guess is he'll see a lot more power play time and he'll need to start finding the back of the net again.
Garrett (Long Island)
What are your thoughts on the Rangers?
Scott Burnside (1:52 PM)
Garrett; I think most people didn't think they were as bad as they showed on that monster road trip to start the season and with the injuries to key personnel like Carl Hagelin, Ryan Callahan and Rick Nash combined with the poor play of Henrik Lundqvist the circumstances were ripe for a stinker start. Now players are healthy or healthier, Lundqvist has been better and they're getting Alain Vigneault. And it's the Metro Division where all things are possible in the land of the mediocre.
Casey (Salt Lake City)
Hi Scott - I think it's noteworthy that the Penguins' struggles started with the return of Kris Letang. Lord knows how talented he is, but can the Penguins play a controlled, systematic game with him in the lineup? He's been an absolute disaster in his own zone and his bread-and-butter, the breakout pass, has ended up on the opponent's stick more often than a teammate's. Given his new deal (complete with NTC) kicks in next season, what are the chances Ray Shero moves him, especially now that Olli Maatta has sternly stated he is the real deal?
Scott Burnside (1:56 PM)
Casey; It's a fair point although not sure this is all Kris Letang's fault. But having watched him up close throughout the playoffs last year I must admit I was a little surprise the Pens went the way they did in signing him long-term. Could Ray Shero turn around and deal him for some depth scoring given the team's well-known defensive depth? I think that would be pretty rash at this stage. Maatta has been terrific but it's been a quarter of a season and youngsters often hit a wall about midway through their first NHL season.
The Devils are 6-12, but have 17 points. This OTL thing is ridiculous!
Scott Burnside (1:56 PM)
Matt; Fair point.
Steve (Fargo, ND)
Can Ryan Suter keep up with this many minutes on ice per game like we are currently seeing? Collecting a total of 108+ mins on ice in three games is insane
Scott Burnside (1:57 PM)
Steve; I would say no this is not a sustainable kind of thing especially if the Wild are about more than just sneaking into the post-season. Throw in the fact he will be the top defenseman on the U.S. team in Sochi and I think at some point Mike Yeo has to smooth his ice time thing out.
Tony (Albany, NY)
What are you feelings about PK Subban not being a lock for team Canada? Is it racism as many have claimed or do you believe that he is a true defensive liability? Is it his outgoing personalty that turns team Canada off or is this all Cannon Fodder and he will be on the team?
Scott Burnside (2:00 PM)
Tony; Maybe I'm a Pollyanna but I don't think it would matter if Subban was purple and green if Steve Yzerman thought he could play on the big ice he'd have him on that roster. I think he's going to be on the Canadian team but I also get that Yzerman et al want a balanced left/right dynamic among their defensive line-up and they want guys that aren't going to go off-script and Subban, while I think he has improved noticeably, has had a penchant for doing just that in his career. Still, my guess is he's in Sochi and maybe being scared straight a little won't be a bad thing for he and Team Canada.
Scott Burnside (2:00 PM)
Okay folks, thanks as always for dropping by. Let's do it again next week. Be well.