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 (3:00 PM)
Greetings all. Back above the eerily quiet ice at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh having made the drive this morning from jubilant Columbus. Now, where were we?
Thoughts on last night's Hawks/Blues game? Still sticking with your series pick?
Scott Burnside (3:02 PM)
Scott; I'm still going with the Coyotes. Oh, sorry, wrong pick. Just caught the tail end of the game and not really surprised it's tied 2-2 although the Blues let that one get away from them in some ways. But I think the question is whether the Blues can keep up offensively will tell the tale. Tarasenko has been really good and Jaden Schwartz has chipped in but need more from Steen and Oshie if the Blues are going to make me look good.
Hi Scott, who has a better chance of pulling out the upset in their respective series, Dallas or Columbus? And what will be the deciding factor in both series?
Scott Burnside (3:04 PM)
Marc; Great question. I think Columbus has a better shot although right now both Dallas and the Blue Jackets could move on given their current level of play. Anaheim's goaltending has to be better, that's pretty obvious from last night. I'd love to see John Gibson get a shot. And the Pens' big boys have to be better. In fact head coach Dan Bylsma said as much this afternoon questioning his team's compete level.
Do you see Cooke's hit as being incredibly cheap like most fans do? I saw it as an unintentional unfortunate event that happened in real time of an incredibly fast paced, hard nosed game in which Cooke played a pivotal role in disrupting the tempo of the Avs.
Scott Burnside (3:05 PM)
Ders; I'm likely in the middle. I know Matt Cooke has worked hard to change the way he plays. He's studied hours and hours of tape and his play since March 2011 reflects that. Still, it was a dangerous, reckless play that cost Tyson Barrie and the Avs and it is now costing Cooke and the Wild. I thought seven/eight would be the right number and I think it is.
Frank (New Orleans)
In three games San Jose has scored 17 goals and made LA look like pretenders when many figured the Kings to win the series. How have the Sharks done it?
Scott Burnside (3:07 PM)
Frank; I keep looking at that series and shaking my head. I picked the Sharks because I thought their depth up front would compensate for any imbalance in goaltending but it's been complete domination. Lots of factors but getting Tomas Hertl back into a top six role allows for Joe Pavelski to play center and that makes the Sharks a real handful down the middle. They aren't as beat up as other teams who had more guys at the Olympics and the Kings haven't shown the pushback that we saw the last two years. This might be the best Sharks team ever which bodes well for a team that's never been beyond a conference final.
Have the Rangers done anything to contain Giroux or is it Giroux? Also, will Read get any suspension for his dirty hit on Carcillo (clearly intentional)?
Scott Burnside (3:09 PM)
Mitch; Looks like the NHL is taking a pass on the Read hit on Carcillo which I agree was cheap and dirty. And it's likely a combination of both in terms of Giroux's ineffectiveness. One thing is undeniable the Flyers' chances are directly linked to Giroux's ability to get out of this funk. He's the engine that drives the team's offense and when he stalls it stalls.
Give me your top 5 team power rankings after one week of the playoffs?
Scott Burnside (3:10 PM)
Shawn; Okay. San JoseBostonMontrealNew York RangersColumbus
Would you say the Blues-Hawks series has been the most competitive so far? Other series have been really entertaining too, but every Blues-Hawks game has been so, so close, and these teams are both so good I don't see either one truly taking over this series.
Scott Burnside (3:12 PM)
Mickey; I would agree. These are both teams that have potentially long runs in them but obviously one is going to be done in a few days. Makes you wonder what the toll will be for the team that emerges. I picked St. Louis in seven but this is so fluid with the lead changes and the late goals and of course the injury to David Backes and the suspension to Brent Seabrook.
Marc-Andre Fleury is gonna take a lot of stick, and deserves his share, but when are people going to take note that the Penguins team defensive play is awful? They can get away with it in the regular season, but when the games become more meaningful the cracks show big time. Malkin, Neal and Letang in particular have been terrible in their own end. MAF doesn't deserve all the stick.
Scott Burnside (3:14 PM)
Andrew; Agreed. Fleury has been, in my view, the team's most consistent player in this series. True, two blown plays at the end of last night will mar his contributions (as they should) and the focus will be on him in a big way in Game 5 (as it should be) but lots of poor play in front of him and lots of room for the team's best players to make some meaningful contributions before this series gets completely away from them.
Don (Berkeley, CA)
Are the Sharks setting their fans up for another disappointing end of the postseason? Or do you think San Jose can make a serious run in the Western Conference?
Scott Burnside (3:16 PM)
Don; Based on current level of play I don't think so. Can Antti Niemi continue to play well? Sure, he's done it before. But it's also an area of concern as the playoffs move along. But looking at how the rest of the first round is unfolding this does look awfully good for Sharks fans. (Did every Sharks fan just cringe at the idea we have just invited a whole rink full of bad mojo on them given that they haven't even emerged from the first round?)
Mike (New York)
It's hard not to root for Columbus right now. They just look like they want it and are giving the Pens all they can handle. How do you see that series ending?
Scott Burnside (3:18 PM)
Mike; Agreed. The Blue Jackets are a great story. And that town is in love with them. They've waited a long time for good things to happen. And not sure I am in any position to guess given that in four straight games the team that won trailed at least 3-1. Not just because I picked the Pens in six but you have to believe that at some point Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Kunitz, Letang will deliver some offense and with Sergei Bobrovsky not exactly stoning the Pens my timid guess is the Pens still prevail. But very timid. Very, very tiimid.
Scott, what do the flyers need to do in order to turn it around? Do you see this going seven like most do?
Scott Burnside (3:20 PM)
Jim; I think they need to stop trying to agitate the Rangers (they aren't the Penguins) and they cannot give them PP opportunities. Forecheck diligently? Of course. But play smart. And they need to make the Rangers pay with power play goals of their own. Of course none of that matters if they don't get above average goaltending which they didn't get in Game 3.
Tman (Belmont, MA)
Have you noticed a significant downturn in the effectiveness of the Bruins 3rd line play with the absence of Kelly?
Scott Burnside (3:21 PM)
Tman; I'm not sure it's been significant but the thing about Chris Kelly is that all season he was the glue for that line and his playoff experience is invaluable. So, it stands to reason that line would struggle to do what it's been doing without a key part of the unit.
Ed (Queens Village)
Andersen or Hiller starts Game 5 for Ducks?
Scott Burnside (3:22 PM)
Ed; Perhaps this is why I'm not an NHL head coach but what about John Gibson? At this stage got to believe Bruce Boudreau will go with Hiller. Talk about a chance to make a case for yourself as an elite netminder. Headed to free agency if it is Hiller it's a start that could be worth millions of dollars.
Now that St.Louis has started to prove his worth in the playoffs, and if Nash starts scoring goals (4 apples in 3 games) do you see NYR as a legitimate threat coming out of the east? Their balanced attach, elite defense (Phili's top 5 offensive players have combined for 2 goals in the series so far) and elite goaltending, should make it possible for them to reach (at least) the ECF. Thoughts?
Scott Burnside (3:25 PM)
Andrew; If at some point the Rangers and Bruins meet I think the evolution of the Rangers' third line into a dangerous unit makes them more Boston-like and I think the way to beat Boston is to match their depth. Right now the Rangers are getting good production from up and down the lineup, and as you noted with top-end goaltending they are going to take some beating.
Between Carolina, Toronto, Washington and Ottawa, who is your bet to blow up their roster in the offseason? Who should?
Scott Burnside (3:27 PM)
Ike; It's so hard to 'blow up' rosters now with no trades and the salary cap. I think Ottawa needs to deal with Jason Spezza before it can move forward. Carolina has to decide on its goaltending (Khudobin would be my guy) but I think Washington has the most work in front of it. Does George McPhee stay/go? Adam Oates? What do you do with or about Ovechkin? Mike Green? The goaltending? That's the team that has blow up potential.
Steve (Rhode Island)
How much does Montreal benefit from this time off? Detroit and Boston are both being forced to plan hard right now.
Scott Burnside (3:29 PM)
Steve; I think it's a double-edged sword. Let's say Boston beats Detroit in six and gets say three days off before starting and the Habs have been off eight or nine there's a real challenge in amping back up even if it is Boston. We've seen in the past where teams that wait a long time especially before playing a physical team (Ottawa versus Anaheim in '07 finals for instance) sometimes don't get that edge back or not until it's too late.
Tyler (Avon, CT)
If the Wild win tonight, do they win the series? If they win tonight, you could easily say they were 1 foot from being up 3-2. I feel like tonight the momentum changes for good if they pull out a win.
Scott Burnside (3:31 PM)
Tyler; I think the winner tonight wins the series. Wild have no one but themselves to blame for not being up 2-1 but they will need to get more from their big guys up front to get the job done. One thing for sure no quit in the Avs. Might have been a bit nervous in first road game but that should be gone tonight.
Geoff (Easton, PA)
Scott... what's up with this lousy scheduling of the playoff games? Montreal/Tampa flew through 4 games well before the Rangers/Flyers are going to be playing Game 4 tomorrow. Considering how close in proximity NY and Philly are there's no excuse as to why they couldn't have played every other day?
Scott Burnside (3:32 PM)
Geoff; Hate playoff scheduling in general. Now in the middle of our second two-day break between games in the Pitt/Columbus series. It's all about television demands and building availability.
Who you think wins tonight in the Avs/Wild series?
Scott Burnside (3:33 PM)
Mike; I am going to jump on the Darcy Kuemper bandwagon and say Wild 4-2.
Guy (Enfield NH)
I am a B's fan so you know what I think of that rat Matt Cooke but people have to realize, 7 games in the playoffs is the equivalent to what 20-25 regular season games so it's a pretty fair suspension even for him.
Scott Burnside (3:35 PM)
Guy; These kinds of hits and players who have a history like Matt Cooke does will always bring out extreme suggestions. I saw former NHL referee Paul Stewart suggest 50 games I think. But for me it's the consistency. Liked the seven games (I predicted eight for what it's worth) but wonder why a similar hit by Bryan Bickell on Vladimir Sobotka that didn't result in long-term injury didn't warrant anything more than a two-minute minor?
How good were the Habs vs the Lightning, and how much was subpar play (particularly defense and goaltending) by the Bolts? I watched most of the games and I'm still not sure....
Scott Burnside (3:37 PM)
Lou; A bit of both but there's been a ton of mediocre goaltending across the board. Carey Price was ordinary in Game 1 and the Bolts couldn't take advantage but was very good after that. Lindback just wasn't good enough to give his team a fighting chance. Still, kudos to Michel Therrien for getting his guys on track early and for guys like Dale Weise and Daniel Briere one of the great money players in the game for upping the ante with their play. If it is Boston that series will be dynamite.
Do the kings have anything left to give? they looked pretty deflated after game 3. Go Sharks Go!
Scott Burnside (3:39 PM)
Camden; Agreed. That was 'the' game they needed and couldn't get the job done. Last thing the Sharks want to do is give an experienced team like the Kings new life. But, Tampa notwithstanding, it's so hard to sweep that I wouldn't be shocked to see some serious pushback from the Kings and maybe a little letdown from the Sharks after building the big series lead.
Is there really a good reason for Teemu Selanne to be a healthy scratch last night? Surely at 43 years young, he's better than a 20-something guy out there. There's no way I bench Selanne, especially not this year, but we all know (and by all I mean every hockey fan out there) that the Ducks aren't winning anything this year anyways. Let Selanne have some fun.
Scott Burnside (3:41 PM)
Eric; I would say that the reality of the playoffs is that it's hard to find a role for a 43-year-old guy like Selanne no matter how spectacular his career has been. He struggled last year against Detroit and you have to give Bruce Boudreau credit for having the fortitude to make the call he thought was right for his team. That they lost opens him up to second-guessing of course but I respect that decision.
Barry Trotz (Nashville)
What's the housing market like in Pittsburgh?
Scott Burnside (3:41 PM)
Barry; Are you wearing a Columbus jersey when you type this note? Cheaper than Vancouver but think you might want to call up the listings there, too.
steve (san diego)
Scotty, Looking at the careers of joe thornton and patrick marleau, will a cup be the deciding factors for hall of fame status? I think thornton gets in cup or not, but marleau, even with 2 gold medals to his name, probably needs a cup and to get to about 540 or so career goals (currently at 437). thoughts?
Scott Burnside (3:43 PM)
steve; Good question. For sure, in my mind at least, Marleau is well behind Thornton in this discussion in spite of the two gold medals. Would one Cup do it for Thornton? Not sure but it would certainly make for interesting discussion. My guess is he'll need a ring to get into the serious discussion for inclusion.
Greg (Norwalk CT)
Do u think NHL should go to baseball system where the same crew of officials works the entire series?
Scott Burnside (3:44 PM)
Greg; Great question and in fact I was talking to an NHL GM who suggested that very thing. Might help with the consistency within the series. I know the league doesn't like the idea but it might be something to try as an experiment one year. Such a hard job but so important to be right and consistent at this time of the year.
Jackson (Nashville, TN)
Scott; what are your thoughts on where Poile goes with the head coaching search in Nashville? Is Laviolette the favorite in your mind?
Scott Burnside (3:47 PM)
Jackson; My guess would be Peter Laviolette given the USA Hockey connections. Good coach. But Phil Housley will get a look. Not sure he's ready but he's shown he's got good coaching smarts and especially with that young blue line group he might be a fit. John Stevens is going to get a job and he's a smart guy who'd be a nice fit in Nashville I think.
Stan (Edison, NJ)
Did you mean "Would 1 cup do it for Marleau?"? Cause Joe Thornton is a 1st ballot lock if he stops playing today.
Scott Burnside (3:47 PM)
Stan; Not sure I believe that.
Are there any defensive pairings much better than Girardi and McDonagh right now?
Scott Burnside (3:49 PM)
Mitch; The Sharks might have an argument there but I will say that in the playoffs they are exactly the kind of guys you want on the ice with a one-goal lead or against the other team's top players. No quit in either of them. There will be Norris Trophies in McDonagh's future.
Walton (Bangor, ME)
With possibility of Zetterburg playing for the Red Wings tonight what do you think the Bruins chances are on extending the series lead 3-1. I'm hopeful after watching how they played the last 2 games.
Scott Burnside (3:50 PM)
Walton; A few questions on Zetterberg's impact the series if he plays. So hard to know just what kind of shape he'll be in if he does suit up. Hasn't played since the Olympics so what are the timing, fatigue issues? That said, he's a world class player and for a Wings team that has looked surprisingly tentative in the first three games he definitely helps to level the playing field.
Shawn (Atlanta, GA)
What are the odds of Backes returning? Is Sobotka OK?
Scott Burnside (3:53 PM)
Shawn; I'm no doctor but I will be surprised if Backes is able to return in this series. And I have no news on any problems with Sobotka who is a quietly useful player for the Blues.
Alright Scott, let's cut to the chase - who meets in the final?
Scott Burnside (3:54 PM)
Jim; Based on current level of play would say San Jose and Boston. But way, way too early to go there.
Endroit12 (San Francisco, CA)
non-playoff question ish but is Anaheim get taken out by Dallas; do you expect them to be aggressive in the off season? (Keslar trade, major free agent signings)
Scott Burnside (3:56 PM)
Endroit; I would expect the Ducks will get back in on the Ryan Kesler train. Expect likewise that Jonas Hiller will be gone. As for other acquisitions it isn't a free agent class with a lot of oomph frankly. And the good thing for the Ducks is they have so many good young players emerging especially on the blue line and in goal they may not need to do a whole lot.
I think the Bruins have to be worried about Montreal, right? Montreal seems like the team that would be most likely to take them out, especially with the work that they have to put in against Detroit right now.
Scott Burnside (3:57 PM)
David; For sure the Boston/Montreal matchup is like Philly/Pittsburgh there's a certain Kryptonite element to the Habs and Bruins. Not sure the Habs could knock off the Bs but they would make life miserable for a couple of weeks.
McDonagh and Girardi are -4 combined in 3 games. Clearly they're the best!
Scott Burnside (3:58 PM)
Matt; Not sure plus/minus is the best arbiter of how dominant or not dominant any player outside of perhaps Alexander Ovechkin, the king of the minus, is.
Do you think Vanek will resign with the Habs or go to MN where everyone seems to be predicting his free-agent destination will be?
Scott Burnside (3:59 PM)
Alex; I would think it depends on how far the Habs go. Long playoff runs often make cities/teams look awfully inviting. And frankly not sure how Vanek fits in with the Wild and their already significant salary cap commitments.
Scott Burnside (4:00 PM)
Okay folks. Thanks as always for dropping by. Let's do this again next week. Be well.