We’re happy to have NHL on NBC analyst Mike Milbury join us to give us his thoughts on five burning questions around the league.
What stuck out about the Capitals win over Pittsburgh at the Winter Classic?
This was a game that meant something to the Capitals. Instead of coming out and trying to do things pretty, they wanted to come out and prove something to themselves. They played hard, they played physical, and they played like they cared.You see the way Alex Ovechkin and his teammates reacted to winning that game and you can tell there was something else there motivating them. You’ve got Ovechkin pumping his fists and waving to the fans and just soaking it all in. They just flat out wanted to win.
With the kind of situation they had out there on the ice under those conditions with the fans and the attention being paid to them they didn’t give in at all. They played like they just wanted this game a lot more and it showed. They came out of there under those circumstances to validate themselves and did so. That, to me, was the lasting impression of that team.
Alex Ovechkin is still struggling to score goals – should he change anything he’s doing?
The whole thing has to be about winning the game. It doesn’t have to be about goal streaks or stuff like that and you see that in the reaction he had in winning the game. That’s what it’s all about – winning the game. He was legitimately pumped up and happy about the win. He had a goal taken away but he didn’t linger on that. He just moved on.
Yeah, he’s got to find a way to score more goals. People suggested maybe he vary his approach to scoring goals; not just powering through, looking for space more often. The thing that I liked was that he didn’t give a damn that he didn’t score a goal, he was more concerned with the win and for me that’s a really good sign for Washington.
With Tampa Bay acquiring Dwayne Roloson and adding Marc-Andre Bergeron are these the moves they need to make a playoff run?
There’s no question Tampa Bay needed help between the pipes. I love the fact that Steve Yzerman sees a team that’s going places and is willing to give up nothing off his roster. I think they needed help and it’s a great signal for a team to see that Yzerman believes in them to pull the trigger on a deal to help them now.
As for Bergeron, he can bring it from the point. He’s a bit of a one-dimensional player and not a great defender. He gives them multiple options so they can work up high and down low on the power play. I don’t expect to see him get a lot of ice time 5-on-5. But he’s quick enough and he can be a useful player on the power play and that’s a good kind of guy to have.
Should Claude Julien be worried about his job in Boston?
Absolutely not. They had a five-game road swing and they got eight out of ten points on the road. They weren’t all pretty, but they were points. The last time I looked that’s all that counts. Get your points.
I think he’s got good support from his general manager (Peter Chiarelli) and the president of the team. I think people are making too much of this.
Two years ago this guy was coach of the year and last year his team was a game away from making the conference championship. I think people are asking for too much right now.
Vancouver has jumped to the top of the NHL but do you buy them as being the best team in the league?
I’ve always had my doubts about the Sedins in terms of their grit. They’ve proven to me over time that they have to be taken seriously. Now, how seriously? They’ve got to start getting it done.
I think they’re deep at the blue line position, they have a great goaltender (Roberto Luongo) who also has a challenge ahead of him, and they’re certainly deep up front.
I think it’s time to consider them one of a group of four, five, no more than six teams that are likely to win the Stanley Cup and they’re trending towards the lower end of that six.