Here is the March 16 edition of Dan Rosen's weekly mailbag, which will run every Wednesday during the 2015-16 NHL season. If you have a question, tweet it to @drosennhl and use #OvertheBoards.
Let's get to it:
Hottest take from the GM meetings? -- @DrewBovy
I'm very interested in hearing more about the somewhat radical changes some general managers, including Tim Murray of the Buffalo Sabres and Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens, were talking about Tuesday in relation to how to create more scoring opportunities. Murray mentioned three things in particular that piqued my interest for no other reason than they're interesting and they are great for debate on whether they could work.
1) Call icing on the team killing the penalty
Pro: An icing would create an offensive zone faceoff for the team on the power play, negating the need for a zone entry provided it wins the faceoff. It could make the penalty killing team try to pass the puck up the ice, which could lead to turnovers and odd-man rushes against.
Con: It likely will make games longer because teams might still use icing as a defensive tactic. The four penalty killers also might slowly make their way back down the ice as a way to gain some extra rest.
2) Make power plays two minutes regardless if a goal is scored
Pro: It obviously gives teams more power-play time, which in theory results in more goals.
Con: It could lead to a more severe penalty than necessary for a minor infraction. One goal against is bad enough; two or three or more are worse. One penalty, one chance for a goal is what GMs might say.
3) Put a time limit (three seconds?) on how long a player can hold the puck behind the goal line or in the trapezoid
Pro: It speeds up the play because it stops defensemen from waiting for a line change before trying to make a play to get the puck out of the defensive zone. In theory, it also stops the opposition from making a line change because they don't want to get caught in an outnumbered situation on a rush play.
Con: What's to stop a player from moving in and out of the trapezoid to avoid the time limit the way players in basketball move in and out of the key. He could still wait for the line change if he's not being aggressively forechecked. It also gives the official something else to watch in what is already a fast-paced game.
The GMs who spoke about this stuff were adamant that it hasn't been put in front of the large group yet and it's just ideas they were toying with to see if anything stuck. I'd love to hear more discussion on these topics to see if the pro or the con wins out.
Video: Dan Rosen: GM meetings news and notes
Who is your dark horse pick to make noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs? -- @bentleynathan1
The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators are going to be tough outs in the Western Conference. They'll be underdogs, but don't sleep on them. They've been playing well. They have high-end skill up front, particularly San Jose. Joe Thornton has been fantastic since mid-December, so much so that I think he should be in the Hart Trophy discussion. Each has a defenseman who is a major scoring threat, particularly Nashville's Shea Weber and San Jose's Brent Burns. Neither team plays a particularly hard game, but they can skate and their goaltending is solid.
I'll keep this real simple: Do the Detroit Red Wings make the [Stanley Cup Playoff] streak 25 years? Why or why not? -- @purdstheword22
I can't believe I'm saying this, but right now I don't think they will make it. Maybe the third period they played Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers will spring them forward, but that regulation loss is a tough one to swallow, as was the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. Yes the Red Wings are still one point ahead of the Flyers, but that's negated by the two games in hand that the Flyers have on them. I guess it's still possible that the Pittsburgh Penguins drop down considering the injury to Evgeni Malkin, but they just won back-to-back games against the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. Their cushion on the Flyers is four points, but the teams play each other three more times. That's bad news for the Red Wings. What if those become three-point games? That puts extra pressure on Detroit to find a way to finish strong. Their goaltending hasn't been good enough. Niklas Kronwall is out. Not good.
If you're the New Jersey Devils and you're rebuilding, at this point wouldn't you just shut down Cory Schneider and try to get a better draft pick? -- @dsf_9d
No. If Schneider is able to return this season healthy and at no risk for further damage to his knee, he needs to play. The Devils can't get themselves into this game of hoping or playing for a better draft pick. If that's the philosophy, why not just bench Kyle Palmieri, Andy Greene and Adam Henrique too? They can't do that, nor should they. They still have to sell tickets, still have to fill Prudential Center as best they can. This is a business. Let's not forget that. And from a hockey standpoint, you're paying Schneider a lot of money to play. If he's healthy he should play, but he absolutely should not return if there is any level of doubt about his health or any reason to think he'd be in danger of re-injuring his knee.
Video: NJD@DAL: Schneider robs Spezza, exits with injury
What do the New York Rangers have to do to right the ship and make a run in the playoffs? -- @andybubberoni
I'm not sure what you mean by "right the ship." They didn't play well against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, but it seems like they and everyone else is overreacting to that loss. It happens. Slumps happen. You don't want to have a slump now, or really any time at all, but they're inevitable. The Rangers have a big three-game California trip that starts Wednesday in Anaheim. Play well there, and all of a sudden they'll be back in the good graces of everybody. They have time to get their game going in the right direction. They need to be harder on the puck, play better when they don't have it, get more production out of forwards like Eric Staal and J.T. Miller, and rely on Henrik Lundqvist to be as good as he is supposed to be. This trip will be good for them. It's a brutal trip for every Eastern Conference team, and I think it comes at the right time for the Rangers because it can ignite them to prove they're good enough.
How would you rank Florida Panthers' Aleksander Barkov among other elite centers currently in the NHL? -- @rippledriver
Barkov isn't elite yet, but he's good and he is working his way toward that category. Elite is an overused term. It should be reserved for centers such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Patrice Bergeron, Anze Kopitar, Joe Thornton, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Getzlaf, John Tavares and Tyler Seguin. That's a lot of elite centers. Barkov isn't in that group. He's on the cusp, though. I really like his game. I think he's close to joining what I call the Selke category of Toews, Kopitar and Bergeron, but those guys have combined to win the past six Stanley Cup championships. Barkov has a great head for the game. He's a terrific checker. He can pass, shoot, score, play defense, win faceoffs, be physical and skillful. The Panthers need to have some playoff success for everyone to take notice of him.