Chat with Scott Burnside
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, 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 Tuesday at noon ET!
Scott Burnside (12:00 PM)
Greetings all. Things a little wackier that's for sure, especially in the Eastern Conference, with a little more than two weeks to go in the regular season. Fun times. Now, where were we?
Hi Scott should Pens fans be worried about their play as of late or will the playoffs be what this teams needs to have the intesity and effort back which is clearly not happening in the past 6 games that I have seen?
Scott Burnside (12:03 PM)
Kevin; A couple of questions early on today about the state of the Pens. This is a team that will be the leader in man games lost to injury by a country mile and now with Evgeni Malkin gone for the balance of the regular season it doesn't get any easier. Plus being locked into the second seed/first place in the Metro Division creates a scenario where urgency may be an issue. That said, the old chestnut about not being able to simply flick a switch come playoff time is true for a Pens team that could face Detroit or a revived Washington team in the first round. Still lots to like about this team especially if some of the injured like Malkin and Paul Martin do get back in the lineup come mid-April.
Eric (Los Angeles)
If I had to ask you, which state or territory has the best hockey team(s), right now, would you hesitate before saying California?You can make an argument for Massachusetts, Illinois (though, only one team) and maybe Pennsylvania, but no other state/territory has 3 teams that could win the cup... if they didn't have to take each other out first!
Scott Burnside (12:04 PM)
Eric; No question the State of California is right now the State of Hockey (sorry Minnesota). Going to be great to watch the first couple of rounds of the playoffs this spring.
Jordan (South Florida)
How long is it gonna take for this Panthers team to rebuild?
Scott Burnside (12:07 PM)
Jordan; If you believe that Roberto Luongo can provide consistent, quality goaltending for the next three or four years, maybe not that long. Think about where the Avalanche were a year ago or where Columbus was two years ago. Like the building blocks Dale Tallon has in place; Bjugstad, Huberdeau, Gudbranson, Howden, Barkov. They have to decide if Horachek is 'the man' to lead them behind the bench and find a way to shore up the team defense (see, Luongo, Roberto) and my guess is two years and they're knocking back at the playoff door.
If the pens have an ugly first or second round exit from the playoffs do you think Shero begins to think of a coaching change - especially if Barry Trotz becomes available?
Scott Burnside (12:09 PM)
John; I think like with all good/elite teams playoff disappointment always brings questions about the coaching. People forget that in spite of getting swept by the Bruins the Pens were a final four team. That said, I would think there would be a lot of discussion about a coaching change if the Pens don't get beyond the second round (depending on the circumstances of course vis a vis injuries etc.) And you mentioned Barry Trotz who may well be asked to step aside in Nashville after coaching every single Preds game since they came in the league. I can pretty much guarantee there will be a stampeded to Trotz's door(or cell phone) with offers the minute that happens.
Thoughts on the disputed goal in the Blue Jackets Red Wings game.
Scott Burnside (12:15 PM)
Pat; Weird (sorry I went back and re-read the rule book covering this) but think they got the call right. Puck was going in and net dislodged by defending player (or as a result of the actions of a defending player). The opposite of the Olympic call in the U.S./Russia game during the preliminary round in Sochi, actually, as international rules say no goal can go in if net even a little bit off the moorings. Big, big win for the Blue Jackets, though. (He says stating the obvious.)
Chris (San Diego)
Have the Ducks fallen a little behind STL, LA, SJ and Chicago? Seems like they are a little too reliant on that top line and Fowler being out hurts a lot.
Scott Burnside (12:16 PM)
Chris; With you on the Fowler assessment. And maybe the whole Penner trade and the lack of a back-fill with a guy like Ryan Kesler threw things out of whack in the dressing room. I still think this is a good, good team, though. Well-coached and if they get Jonas Hiller back in the groove we saw through most of the middle part of the season they'll give the Kings everything they can handle in the first round if they can't reel in the Sharks.
Jonathan (Chapel Hill, NC)
The Eastern Conference playoff picture is nuts. As a Jackets fan, I still can't come to grips with this team. It always *feels* like they turn the corner with a big win, only to have a gut shot loss a game or two down the line. Aside from them being young and unpredictable, what's your take on this team over the home stretch?
Scott Burnside (12:20 PM)
Jonathan; Yes, that loss to the Islanders last weekend is one I'm sure you're thinking about as will the Blue Jackets if they miss by a point or two. Love the work ethic, though. They have really bought into Todd Richards' plan and they have terrific young players like Ryan Johansen. Do they have enough stability in the room to avoid anymore of those letdowns? Their schedule the rest of the way isn't all that bad relative to the other teams they're fighting with.
Are the Flyers the most dangerous team in the league right now?
Scott Burnside (12:23 PM)
Matt; If they'd beat the Kings the other night I might have gone that far. Are they - along with the Bruins - the most dangerous team in the east? I'll give you that. Big, big game with Rangers tonight. Should be fun with home ice on the line. Not sure the Flyers are where the Blues, Sharks or even the Kings are right now. Still, can you imagine asking that question anytime in October or November?
Who will be the most coveted Free Agent this summer? Have to think Niskanen is in the mix given how well he's played this year. Has he played his way out of Pittsburgh in the sense that they wont be able to afford him?
Scott Burnside (12:26 PM)
Nick; Not sure how Niskanen will fit in for the Pens but might be room if they decide to part ways with Brooks Orpik. As for other UFAs Thomas Vanek, Ryan Miller, even older guys like Dan Boyle and Jarome Iginla and Mike Cammalleri will get lots of attention in a very, very thin marketplace. My guess is Cammalleri and Iginla stay where they are and the Blues are going to do their best to keep Miller in St. Louis. Not a lot of Grade A defensemen so Niskanen, who has been terrific especially in helping Olli Maatta during the youngster's rookie season, will be in demand.
So Phoenix is going to beat out Dallas for the #8 spot and then upset the Blues in a bloody first round, right? OEL will single-handedly dismantle their forcheck... They'll then stymy the Avs offense (after the Avs upset the Hawks), eeking out a tough 7 game victory... Which will set them up for a WCF with the battle-tested Sharks, who will choke once more and put the desert dogs in the Stanley Cup finals. Then it's anybody's game right? Hanzal will give Chara or Letang or McDonaugh or Streit or Subban just too much to handle, and the yotes will bring the cup home to Phoenix, er Arizona.Is the story you tell yourself each night? ;)
Scott Burnside (12:27 PM)
Peter; More or less.
Do the Canadiens pose the biggest threat to the Bruins in the Eastern Conference come playoff time?? There is something about their rival that scares me more than the Pens. (History)
Scott Burnside (12:29 PM)
Shawn; Who doesn't want to see another Boston/Montreal series? Okay, maybe the Bruins could do without one. What makes such a match-up, should it come to pass, so enthralling is that the Habs have no fear when it comes to the Bruins. There is no mindset to alter where there might be/will be if it's Pens/Bruins again or even Leafs/Bruins which could happen. The Habs think they have the Bruins' number and that's a powerful tonic especially when you don't match up on paper and let's be honest right now no one matches up with the Bruins in the east.
joe (cubicle hell)
Scottie... when do the Wings get Pavel Back? Hank? Weiss? And can Weiss even contribute at this point?
Scott Burnside (12:31 PM)
joe; Still seems very fluid for Datsyuk, who is back skating, and Zetterberg. As for Stephen Weiss given his play this season the potential for him to contribute in any meaningful way seems very slight indeed. Look for Weiss to jump aboard the buyout express when the summer offloading of deadwood begins.
Are the habs going to be the only Canadian team in the playoffs? I think yes, the leafs have played too many games compared to other wild card teams. Whats your take?
Scott Burnside (12:34 PM)
Ann; Yes, believe the Habs will be the sole carrier of a nation's Stanley Cup hopes and dreams. If the stats folks over at TSN (this is courtesy of our good friend Pierre LeBrun who gets all that good stuff) this would be the first time since 1973 that just one Canadian team would be in the tournament. Wow. Of course if you're a Hab fan that's okay, they won the Cup back in '73.
Jean Claude (Vermont)
Do you see the Avs being a dark horse to make it out of the West?
Scott Burnside (12:38 PM)
Jean Claude; Lots of things would have to go right for the Avs to knock off Chicago. Can Varlamov rise up and saw off Corey Crawford? He's played just six playoff games since '09, none since '10. Can the defense handle the Blackhawks' deep, fast and skilled forwards assuming Patrick Kane comes back in time? What I like about the Avs is they have no fear. Patrick Roy has instilled a very high belief factor in that room. Up front they're as dangerous as Chicago although they miss P.A. Parenteau. So, yes, I think they can give Chicago a hard time and possibly move beyond the first round.
Odds of New Jersey sneaking into the 8th spot?
Scott Burnside (12:41 PM)
Brian; Slim. Five points back with three teams to jump. That said, Devils have a relatively easy schedule with Islanders (2), Calgary, Carolina, Buffalo, Ottawa on the docket. Just don't see it happening given their inconsistent play.
Scott Burnside (12:42 PM)
Oops. Slight techno outage.
Luke (California )
What's the problem with the Oilers? Three first overall picks in a row - they signed Justin Schultz, have a good fanbase. Why can't they get it together and how long will it take them to rebuild? For how bad theyve been they owe it to their fans to tank it next year and land McDavid or Eichel.
Scott Burnside (12:44 PM)
Luke; When you think Oilers you think tank that's for sure. Is it coaching? Unfortunately for GM Craig MacTavish even if he doesn't think Dallas Eakins is the guy he's stuck with him having already fired a coach before his team played its first game under him (Ralph Krueger). They may yet end up with another first overall pick this year (and no worse than third is my guess) and they still look like they're a million miles away especially defensively. What if Ben Scrivens isn't the guy in goal? Or Viktor Fasth? McDavid might closer to Edmonton than you think.
Please tell me the Islanders will get a goalie this summer. Riemer possibly? Also any chance Moulson re-signs with LI?
Scott Burnside (12:47 PM)
Eric; Well, you would think that would be priority one for GM Garth Snow. Hey, didn't I write that last summer too? Reimer is interesting and hard to imagine he would cost much. What about Jonas Hiller who will likely move on from Anaheim barring a Cup win there? Or one of the Carolina netminders? (Not sure Cam Ward fits but maybe Justin Peters.) As for Moulson will be shocked if he goes back there.
Garrett (Long Island)
Overall thoughts on the Rangers?
Scott Burnside (12:50 PM)
Garrett; Hard to get a real read on the Rangers. They look at times (like during this four-game win streak) like they've closed the gap on Pittsburgh and even Boston but with Chris Kreider now out indefinitely with a hand injury and Martin St. Louis so slow to fit in and with Rick Nash and Brad Richards struggling in the playoffs last year just not sure they can even get out of a first-round series with the Flyers. Right now that would be too close to call not to mention must-see playoff hockey.
Do you think the caps will make the playoffs ?
Scott Burnside (12:51 PM)
Caps; Yes I do. But I am selfish. I wouldn't mind another Pittsburgh/Washington tilt a la 2009.
Hey Scott, did you find it strange that the Canadians started Budaj over Price in that big game against the B's? I know Budaj has had success against us, but with the playoffs looming and a Boston Montreal matchup a strong possibility, I found it puzzling the Habs didn't have Price in net for such a big game.
Scott Burnside (12:53 PM)
Chris; Agreed. Especially with the awful Sabres up the next night (Carey Price earned the shutout last night against the Sabres). But guess Michel Therrien knows what he's doing. Also plays to what we were talking about with the Habs and the Bruins and the mindset come playoff time. By winning with Budaj it adds to that sense of invincibility the Canadiens seem to possess when it comes to the Bs. If they'd lost, oh well, it was the backup. Smart move by Therrien.
Scott Burnside (12:55 PM)
Tom; I think Nathan MacKinnon wins this in a walk. But as for second/third on my ballot?I think I would go Ondrej Palat just ahead of Tyler Johnson and then Olli Maatta from the Pens. Jacob Trouba of Winnipeg will also get a lot of love, too.
I know the Hawks haven't played well against Colorado and St. Louis this season but, being the homer I am, I can't help but feel the Blackhawks are going to be insanely hard to knock out in a 7 game series. Especially when they have Stanley Cup experience over the younger teams. You have to throw the regular season records out when the playoffs start, no?
Scott Burnside (12:58 PM)
Mike; I agree in general that the regular season records between teams mean zero. But when it comes to teams that may be decided underdogs it goes to a frame of mind as opposed to the nuts and bolts of the wins and losses. As for the 'Hawks no question they're in that group of three or four in the west that has every chance of advancing to a Cup final and/or winning it all. My only question as it always is for defending champs is at what point does the fatigue or simple bad luck set in as history tells us it always does.
What do you think of the situation brewing in Carolina? Will they unload the Staal brothers and even possibly skinner, to begin a rebuild?
Scott Burnside (12:59 PM)
David; Hard to imagine either Staal going anywhere both because Eric represents the face of the franchise and Jordan's contract is not particularly mobile. Don't imagine Skinner will be going anywhere either. Lots of work to do with the 'Canes, though, on both ends of the puck. Do like Anton Khudobin as a starting place, though.
Scott Burnside (1:00 PM)
Okay folks. Off to St. Louis tomorrow for a couple of games there and an up-close look at one of the top contenders. Stop by next week. Be well.