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 Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
Scott Burnside (12:01 PM)
Hello all. Back from a few days in St. Louis. Think I may be back sooner than I thought. Now, where were we?
Angst in Capsland - now that they are all but certain to miss the playoffs for the first time in years, it is time to focus on what to do next. There are many significant issues, including a real absence on the blue line, but should change start at the top? Should GMGM go? Oates? Both?
Scott Burnside (12:03 PM)
Steve; What a strange team the Caps continue to be. I thought they were going to play their way back into the top eight after their west coast trip but they left points on the table and you're right, they're pretty much cooked. Starts with ownership; what does Ted Leonsis want this team to look like? Kuznetsov I think is the real deal but they have to resolve the goaltending issue and you're right the back end hasn't evolved in spite of good young players like John Carlson and Karl Alzner. Is it time for Mike Green to go? But to your point I think change will start at the top. Already rumors that if George McPhee is indeed cut loose in Washington that he'll immediately land in Calgary.
Jean Claude (Vermont)
More likely to happen, Roy, Varly, and MacKinnon win COY, Vezina, and ROY, or the Avs making it out of the first round?
Scott Burnside (12:05 PM)
Jean Claude; Great question. I think MacKinnon is a lock to win the Calder. I think Varlamov and Tuukka Rask are close in the Vezina and I think Roy will win the Jack Adams although Mike Babcock is making a strong play and Jon Cooper is in the mix too. Too many variable on the first-round situation vis a vis the Blackhawks' injuries. Not quite an answer but close.
WMayor (Windsor, Ont)
With Detroit basically playing their AHL team most of the season, I was wondering what team has made it the farthest in the playoffs with many of the main players out with injuries?
Scott Burnside (12:08 PM)
WMayor; My old stomping grounds; Windsor. I remember the '02 Leafs were without guys like Mats Sundin and Gary Roberts for most of the playoffs and made it to the Conference final against Carolina and only when they started to get healthy did they lose. Avs won a Cup after Peter Forsberg left with a spleen injury. Needless to say it's hard and that's why the winner, as we saw last spring, is as much a winner in the war of attrition as the game itself.
You are the vis a vis king. Anyways, what deadline deal trade has made the biggest impact? Vanek, Moulson, Gaborik, Stempniak or another one?
Scott Burnside (12:10 PM)
Bart; I also like to throw the odd 'ubiquitous' in as well. I didn't like the Gaborik add but Dean Lombardi knew better and he's been terrific and the Kings are going to be an awfully tough out with the offense going as it is now. And Vanek took awhile but he's been great although I'm curious to see what he does in two weeks. For me it begins and ends with Ryan Miller, though, Gives the Blues their best shot, maybe ever, of winning a Cup. But the west is as tough as it gets.
Mason(Dallas) [via mobile]
Hey there Scott! Love reading your articles! As there are about 6 games left for the Dallas Stars, and as they are winning the tie breaker with Phoenix, do you think it will come down to the last game in Glendale? And if Dallas does make the SC playoffs, how far do you think they will go?
Scott Burnside (12:14 PM)
Mason; Thanks for the kind words. Saw the Stars in St. Louis last week and was mightily impressed. To me tonight's game against Carolina is a good test. Do they let down in a winnable game? The way the 'Yotes are playing without Mike Smith and the offense deserting them that Game 82 in Glendale may not mean anything at all. Hard to imagine the Stars upsetting Anaheim or St. Louis but you know Lindy Ruff will have his boys read and the kind of depth production they've received lately is impressive. Better question is when/will Kari Lehtonen get his first-ever playoff win this spring? Things looking good on that front right now.
Mark (Los Angeles)
The Ducks started Andersen the last 2 games even after he gave up 4 goals a Monday. Could he be the starting goalie for the playoffs? Also, as a Ducks fan, even if Hiller is the starter for the playoffs and even if they won it all, given the salary cap savings I'm not sure I'd re-sign him, I might go with Andersen and Gibson. What do you think the Ducks should do?
Scott Burnside (12:16 PM)
Mark; Interesting move by Bruce Boudreau to spell Hiller like this, three straight wins for Andersen just when it looked like the Sharks were going to take over the Pacific. Not going to happen now, I don't think. And barring a Cup win in which case maybe GM Bob Murray rethinks the goaltending I am guessing Hiller hits the open market. Gibson's the prize and he needs to play some NHL games although tough to go with two kids if it is Gibson and Andersen. Interesting times for one of the NHL's top teams.
The Rangers seem to b peaking at the right time. Are they a dark horse to make a run out of the East?
Scott Burnside (12:20 PM)
Matt; I'm not even sure they're a 'dark horse' given how well they've played of late. Any team with one of the best goaltenders in the world is always going to be highly regarded come playoff time so the Rangers have that going for them. Status of Ryan McDonagh is huge (they don't play until later tonight in Denver so update isn't likely to happen for a few hours). Can they beat the Flyers? Should given the edge in goaltending. And then either Pittsburgh or Detroit in a Metro Division final? Sure. Hard to imagine they could beat the Bruins - if, of course the Bs end up fulfilling their destiny by at least going to an east final again.
Dark horse East team... me the Bolts they play a good game, plenty of offensive fire power, and a goal tender. I don't think any team wants to see them in the playoffs. What do you think?
Scott Burnside (12:23 PM)
Pete; Should be a great first-round tilt with the Habs. Pretty important, I think, for Tampa to end up with home ice. Gives Jon Cooper the matchups he'll want. And I think Ryan Callahan is going to be a boon to the Bolts come playoff time. Can Ben Bishop out-play Carey Price? That's the question. Price showed his mettle in Sochi, Bishop washed out at the World Championships last year. Was that enough of an education in pressure hockey?
Kings will likely have to go through the Sharks, Ducks and Blues to get to the finals... got to be one of the toughest runs, but it wouldn't shock me... agree?
Scott Burnside (12:25 PM)
Randy; Agreed that that is the likely breakdown. And agreed that it is wildly difficult especially for the Kings. If they get by the Sharks for me it will be the Kings' health that will determine their potential for success. I think by the conference final last year the Kings were out of gas after bruising series with St. Louis and the Sharks. Same could happen this year. Or it could happen sooner.
Bill (Pasadena, CA.)
Hi Scott, Just wondering if you still think Gaborik is a bad pick up for the Kings? Thanks.
Scott Burnside (12:27 PM)
Bill; Nope. Made reference to it earlier. He has fit in a lot better than I imagined. Now, I reserve judgment until playoff time having seen Gaborik pull a pretty significant fade in recent years come the post-season.
Andre (Los Angeles, CA)
Hi Scott,Hope all the talk about Wang selling Islanders comes to fruition. Best gift Islander fans can get. Time to clean house by sending Snow and Capuano packing. Do you think the situation gets resolved this offseason?
Scott Burnside (12:28 PM)
Andre; Hard to say whether it would happen sooner than later but it does appear that it's going to happen and I agree, long-suffering Isles fans deserve better than they've received for, well, many, many years. Sooner the better for the fans and the league in general.
Is it weird that I'm not at all nervous about the Hawks shaky play recently and the injuries going into the playoffs (knowing Kane and Toews will be back, of course)? Regular season success is all well and good, but this is a team built for the post-season and guys like Bickell and Shaw play WAY above themselves in the playoffs. West is monstrous this year, but I like the Hawks for another deep run at the very least. Thoughts?
Scott Burnside (12:30 PM)
Mickey; I agree that sometimes we overstate the play (both good and bad) of teams who lock up playoff spots early. It all comes down to Kane and Toews and their health. If they're healthy and the Avs have to soldier through most if not all of the first round without Matt Duchene that's a tall order to knock off the defending champs. And then you have St. Louis (assuming no major upset in the first round for the Blues) and the Blackhawks. Now, that's a series to watch.
How high is Olli Mattaa's ceiling? I've heard a writers/analysts make Lidstrom comparisons. I know those suggestions may be a little bit lofty but how good do you think he can be?
Scott Burnside (12:31 PM)
Ryan; I think he's been terrific. Plays with poise and a high degree of skill. And he's still very much a kid. Doesn't seem to let mistakes bother him (he was a healthy scratch recently) and doesn't mind playing bigger roles as he did at times in Pittsburgh and for the Finns in Sochi. Lidstrom? A bit early for that but terrific poise for a young man.
Is it just me or do the potential first round matchups in the west look way more exciting than the east? Maybe i'm just biased
Scott Burnside (12:33 PM)
Jeff; Might be your Western bias. Rangers/Flyers will be terrific. I like the Bolts/Habs matchup and if, as it looks like now, it's Detroit/Pittsburgh that'll be a dynamic tilt.
Burnsy, at what point can I expect my beloved Wild to get over the hump and actually do something in the playoffs? I know our keeper situation is a mess, but we have so much talent and ability on our top 4 lines that it drives me nuts to see us struggle year after year, barely making the playoffs, and then getting crushed in round 1. Are our issues deeper than the keeper? Does Yeo need to go? Do we need to change our entire philosophy?
Scott Burnside (12:36 PM)
Matt; Not going to throw this all at the goaltending but there is so much to like about the Wild whether it's leadership or balance or the collection of top-end young players. But even though Ilya Bryzgalov is undefeated in regulation and has come up with a couple of important wins historically he has been only average and sometimes less than that in the playoffs. No way the Wild knock off the Ducks or Blues in the first round with average goaltending. Everything flows from that, including the team's confidence to do the other things they're paid to do. Lots of pressure on GM Chuck Fletcher to make sure the Wild are better than one and done and the best way to do that is to stop being a bottom seed. That means playing better in the regular season and that usually falls to the coach.
John(AZ) [via mobile]
Scott i read an article (fansided) that ryan miller is eyeing Anaheim this offseason, is there any truth to this?
Scott Burnside (12:38 PM)
John; I think people have drawn a line to California because Miller's wife is an actress. I think much will depend on what openings there are for a starting netminder and how far the Blues go. As we noted earlier John Gibson is the heir apparent to the Ducks goaltending job. Do they try and sign Miller to a two or three year deal to bridge the gap until Gibson is ready? Would that be enough term for Miller? If the Blues go deep in the playoffs does that become an attractive place for Miller to make his new hockey home long-term?
You referenced the uncertainty of McDonagh's injury earlier, but what about Kreider? Is he done for the season or can he be back for playoffs?
Scott Burnside (12:39 PM)
Bob; I don't have any updates on Kreider but it didn't sound like he was close and of course his availability will be connected to just how long the Rangers keep playing.
Does McDavid or Eichel have Crosby potential? How good are they actually projected to be?
Scott Burnside (12:41 PM)
Chris; I have not seen either young man play but scouts speak of both in terms that suggest a Crosby-like player. Easy to say hard to replicate but I think that's why the NHL is looking at expanding the draft lottery system to make sure teams aren't tanking as we head into the 2015 draft to try and up their chances of landing either of these franchise prospects.
If MAF implodes in the post season is Pitt a possible destination for Miller?
Scott Burnside (12:42 PM)
Cam; Interesting idea. Certainly Miller's name came up as a potential fit for the Pens at the deadline. With all due respect to Jeff Zatkoff there isn't a clearly defined line of succession to Fleury from within the Pens' organization. Hmm. Stay tuned.
Dave (Irvine, CA)
Why do they not re-seed after first round like they used to? In the West it may not matter if you have Hawks vs Blues and Ducks vs Kings in round 2, but why not Blues Kings and Ducks vs Hawks in round 2 based on todays points?
Scott Burnside (12:44 PM)
Dave; Fair question. Just the format the league has decided on at least for the time-being. I like the wild cards and I like that the top team in each conference will play the weakest wild card team. But it does seem strange that it's possible for the Minnesota Wild to win a Pacific Division title if they end up playing the Pacific Division winner or Detroit to win the Metropolitan Division if they start out playing the Pens.
Has there been a d-man hotter than Alec Martinez since the Olympic break? 7 goals, 8 assists, and a +10
Scott Burnside (12:46 PM)
Bobby; You are right on the mark there. Nice job, again, by Dean Lombardi and his scouting staff. Last year it was Jake Muzzin stepping into the breach to provide offense and eat up minutes with injuries to Greene and Mitchell and now Martinez is shouldering a significant offensive load. Come playoff time all those points chipped in from the blue line are worth their weight in gold especially when you're a team that has at times struggled to find offense from the forward corps.
Which team has the most depth on the blue line? Is it the Hawks with the tremendous top 4, the Kings who go 7 deep and scratch a very good Matt Greene every night, or the Bruins?
Scott Burnside (12:49 PM)
Jeff; What about the Blues who have Olympians Bouwmeester, Pietrangelo and Shattenkirk on board? Bruins are interesting because once again kids like Krug and Hamilton being given loads of responsibility. My question is come playoff time how much do they miss Dennis Seidenberg and can Andrej Meszaros stay healthy enough to provide that veteran presence when the going gets tough?
How smart does the Diaz pick-up for the Rangers look right now? Between John Moore being concussed and now the McDonagh injury, Diaz is definitely a great replacement on their D-line.
Scott Burnside (12:51 PM)
Al; It gets said every spring but it bears repeating; you absolutely cannot have enough defense come playoff time. Rangers are hoping they've got lots but Diaz certainly helps in the early going pending McDonagh's status.
Jason (Virginia )
Is it time for DC management to consider moving Ovechkin? He got called out again by his coach the other day (and rightfully so) for his effort and lack of defensive play. He has the worst plus/minus in the league. With his cap hit and no move clause - do you think it would be possible to move him and would any team (who'd he potentially waive his no trade clause to, so we'd have to assume it is a big market/contender) want to take on his cap hit? It seems that he is the most likely star player who has a chance of moving - it just doesnt seem to be working out.
Scott Burnside (12:52 PM)
Jason; So many moving parts in trying to move a guy like Ovechkin. Does he want to go? Who has cap room to take him even if the Caps eat some of his salary? Bringing someone like Ovechkin into a room changes everything; what team is looking for that kind of addition? Hard to imagine it happening although this has been a disappointing follow-up on so many levels to Ovechkin's Hart Trophy turn last year.
Everybody has been talking about the Western Conference's superior strength this year. I think that it played out that way as we are almost at the end of the season. While it has been fun to be a part of it as a King's fan, does the strength in the west give the east champion a better shot at winning the cup because of the battles that will take place to win the west?
Scott Burnside (12:55 PM)
Marty; I guess in theory although the fact two good teams (the losers of the 2/3 battles in the Pacific and Central divisions) will be gone by the end of the first round does clear the road a bit. That said the feeling when looking at the east is Boston is on a different plane in terms of their experience, size, skill level and goaltending than anyone else. Guarantees nothing but in theory they might enjoy a less taxing trip to a final. Of course we know how often theory gets banged around come playoff time.
Last in the Power Rankings? Way to kick Leaf fans while we're down, Burnside! Haven't we suffered enough?
Scott Burnside (12:56 PM)
Andrew; When the Leafs surge into the playoffs by running the table you'll remember that it was the ignominy of being placed last in the Power Rankings that was the catalyst to their renaissance. You're welcome.
Scott, did you know you could answer dozens more questions if you just shotgun responses instead of taking the time to think about and write something meaningful?Anyways, what first round matchup are you most looking forward to covering?
Scott Burnside (12:57 PM)
Pierre; Yes. I know folks think you type way faster than I do. I like to get my letters in the correct order at least for the most part. Hmmm. My guess is I will start in St. Louis and maybe make a trip to Chicago but lots of balls in the air vis a vis how Team ESPN.com is deployed when the playoffs start.
Given the chance would you take Corey Perry or Patrick Kane?
Scott Burnside (12:58 PM)
Peyton; Tough, tough, tough. I'll take Kane because I think he's the kind of guy that makes everyone around him better while Perry is more the pure goal-scorer.
Scott Burnside (12:59 PM)
Okay folks, thanks so much as always for dropping by. Let's do it again next week. Until then, be well.