Scott Burnside, longtime hockey writer. You can do Burnside on hockey. Sign up for the newsletter, all of that.
Get the website. Go to hurricanes.com, read his stuff. And he joins us, we have him, on the Adam Gold Show. There he is. There's Scott Burnside.
All right, sir. Let's talk about the relationship between Natas and Svechtykoff, which obviously has benefited both players this year. So, when did you decide to do this story? Well, Adam, obviously my timing wasn't entirely impeccable on that because I chatted with both Svechtykoff and Natas before Andrei Svechtykoff's season-ending injury, so that blunted the impact of that piece somewhat. But still, I think, a valid way to explore how do young players, especially European players, who have become so critical to the future of the organization, how does their friendship benefit not just their own personal growth but also the growth of the team and what the expectations are moving forward? Because there's no question that the expectations for both those players, first-round picks and very high picks, how do they ride out adversity?
How do they confront things that don't go their way? And I think certainly the story of Martin Nechas is one that shows that you do need to be patient and that good things can come if you are patient and I think if you have a strong support network. And Martin Nechas is very candid about how important his relationship with Andrei Svechtykoff has been, especially through a very difficult time, as we saw last year, not the kind of season that Martin Nechas was hoping to have or that the organization wanted, but a real belief in the fact that he could tap into those significant areas of promise and potential. And I would argue he might be the single most important player on that team heading into the playoffs outside of Frederick Anderson, maybe, in terms of being able to fill the void offensively without Max Pacioretty or Andrei Svechtykoff, both of whom were expected to be key contributors come playoff time. Scott Burnside is with us at Overtime.
Scott, be on Twitter. You lead me exactly where I was headed because I do think that, yes, they are close and I think they have positively influenced each other and I wonder if the absence of Svechtykoff, because Nechas has taken an enormous step forward this year, but I wonder if the absence hasn't also caused Marty maybe to try to do too many things because some of the mistakes that he made last year that had nothing to do with not scoring goals, but more puck management decision-making things have sort of crept back in over the last couple of weeks, coincidentally, since Andrei's injury. I wonder if he's just trying to compensate for his friend. Well, I don't think there's any doubt that everyone in that lineup feels, you know, first of all you have the Max Pacioretty situation, you know, which really is, you know, with all due respect to Max Pacioretty, really not a factor with this team this year, right, and played a handful of games.
Five, yeah. So, you know, and so it's not like you, you know, to me, Svechtykoff's so different, A, because he plays the game, you know, with such exuberance and he does so many important things, you know, his physicality, his ability to both make plays and to score, all those kinds of things, and I know at the, you know, towards the end before the injury that Nechas and Svechtykoff weren't playing together as certainly as much as they were early in the season, but I think there is a certain amount of pressure throughout the lineup, given the expectations that this team has, that, you know, when you combine Pacioretty and Svechtykoff, there's 80 to 90 goals during the course of a regular season if both were healthy, you know, that are gone. And come playoff time, and I think we saw this in the second round series against the Rangers last year, where critical times calling for those sort of critical moments offensively, which didn't pan out as that series against the Rangers wound to its conclusion in game seven. I think there's a lot of pressure on, especially a guy like Marty Nechas, who has had such a tremendous season, you know, leads a team with 69 points. So I think it's a fair point, Adam, that, you know, so to me, that's part of the coaching between now and game one next Monday or Tuesday night and against whoever it's going to be against. Just do what you know best.
Don't do, don't try and do too much more. I think it's a natural thing, especially given the season that he's had, but I think that's a critical, that is a critical element of whatever success lies ahead with the Carolina Hurricanes is, and not just for Marty Nechas, but for all those players, Seth Jarvis and Sebastian Ajo, Tabel Carolina, and Brent Burns, and Gospaher, and all the rest of it. Do what you can do, and then, you know, trust your teammates to do what they can do. You know, it's a tall order because, you know, you're missing two critical points, and we know how difficult it is to score come playoff time. So I think it's a natural thing, but I do think it's one of the great challenges for the coaching staff and for this roster moving into the first round.
I gotta ask you about the Eastern Conference, Scott, and maybe it's just about Boston first. I mean, 163 wins in 80 games so far. I don't even know how, they weren't supposed to be that good at the beginning of the season. Do you remember, remember how they went out and we thought, well, Burns might retire. Marsha and McAvoy, they're going to have surgery, and 63 wins already. Who's beaten them? Well, I know it's a great question, and I don't know, I don't know who beats them, but I know they're beatable because every team is beatable, and I think history shows you that winning the president's trophy is one thing, and it is not necessarily linked intrinsically to playoff success.
It just isn't. I mean, those are no greater example than the Florida Panthers, who, you know, hanging on to a wildcard spot by, you know, the skin of their fingertips as we head into the last, into the regular season after, you know, blowing the doors off the competition during last year's regular season, winning a president's trophy, and really, you know, come playoff time, quite fortunate to beat Washington in the first round last year, and then embarrassed by Tampa and a sweep in the second round where I think they scored three goals in four games. So, you know, Boston is, this is, I don't compare Boston and Florida. This Boston team, you know, they've got Hall of Famers and Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchana is a Hall of Famer in my book.
David Pasternak may in fact be a Hall of Famer when he's done, reached the 60 goal plateau yesterday. You know what, this is a team, and you go back to two or three years ago when Tampa won 62 games and was swept by the 8C Columbus Blue Jackets, and I know Boston is, they are critically aware of that, of the pitfalls that that Tampa team fell into, and I remember talking to John Cooper after the fact, you know, that team had nothing to play for in Tampa for weeks and weeks. You know, and was, is there urgency in Boston to set an NHL record?
You know, maybe, but that's artificial urgency as far as I'm concerned. To me, the question is going to be, when they face adversity, and maybe it'll be in the first round against a Penguins team or Florida or the Islanders, when they face that adversity, how do they respond? Can they elevate their game? What is Linus Olmark going to be like now that he is really the guy? Probably going to win the Vessinger Trophy. You know, I think of him in the playoffs last year against Carolina.
He looked a little bit overwhelmed by the, by the, the stage and, you know, has he learned from that? Can he elevate his game? How quickly, does Jim Montgomery, the head coach, make a goaltending change and go to Jeremy Swamin if things don't go well? I mean, these are all questions that I think are, will be interesting to see how they're answered by a Boston team that really has, has just decimated the opposition throughout the year. You ask who could beat them? You know, I like the way Carolina has played Boston without any doubt at all. Tampa or Toronto in the second round in the Atlantic division, boy, that would be fun to watch. So I don't think they're unbeatable, but you do have to tip your cap to what the Bruins have accomplished this year.
I just don't know that it necessarily guarantees any kind of success come playoff time. Oh, we know enough about the, the playoffs in the National Hockey League. And I'll just say that if they draw the Islanders in the first round, I believe that if it's not Andrei Vasilevskiy, and I know Linus Olmark is going to win the Vessinger Trophy. I know Ilya Sorokin is the best goalie in the NHL, not named Andrei Vasilevskiy. So if you're going Boston against somebody as good as that, and I know Boston has won all three games from the Islanders this year, but Simeon Varlamov played all three.
If I'm not mistaken, I looked, I looked that up. So they haven't even had to deal with Sorokin yet. I don't know that that's intentional or not on the part of the Islanders, but Sorokin is that good. Of course, the Islanders still going to have to score, score on Linus Olmark at the other end. And that has not been easy for anybody this year. How do you handicap the wildcard race?
I'll let you go after this, Scott. We've got three teams, two with, what, we have 91 points each between Florida and the Islanders, 90 with Pittsburgh. Buffalo's not out of it, but they have to win all four and get some help.
Yeah, it is fascinating to watch. In fact, I just did a podcast appearance on a Pittsburgh publication or broadcast, you know, talking about the Penguins. They've made the playoffs every year since 2007. It's been an incredible run for that core of Pittsburgh Penguins and obviously ownership slash management deciding to return that core, giving new contracts to a beginning marketing Crystal Tang last off season. I think Sidney Crosby has just been, you know, once again, otherworldly, but no one's touching Connor with David. Everyone understands that, but Sidney Crosby should be in the heart trophy discussion in the sense of, you know, who else is going to be on your ballot if you're part of the PHWA voting on it. And Sidney Crosby has been, you know, outstanding. And in the last couple of games, when the Penguins, you know, hit one of the many flat spots they've hit this season, he has been one of the leaders in bringing them back to within a point of a playoff spot.
I think here's the interesting part for me. The Islanders and the Penguins both have two games remaining against soft non-playoff teams. Florida plays a Toronto team that is locked into second place in the Atlantic, but there's lots to play for in Toronto.
Of course, at least haven't won a playoff series and so forth. Mitch Marner could get to 100 points. I know Ilya Samsonov is expected to start, wants to be on a roll as he gets ready to face Andre Vasilevski in the Tampa Bay Lightning next week. So there is an opportunity, I think, for the Panthers to, you know, that's a tough opponent in Toronto, even though Florida's playing at home. And then of course they play the Carolina Hurricanes in both their, at both teams' final games. At that stage, could Carolina have wrapped up top spot in the Metro possible? But I also have a sense from the Carolina Hurricanes that this is a team that would like very much to go into the playoffs, you know, at a very high gear. I don't know what the plan is vis-a-vis maybe resting, you know, load management for Carolina, but that's a tough matchup for Florida as well. So is there a potential for Florida to lose a game in regulation or to drop two points because the Penguins have to finish ahead of Florida points-wise because Florida owns tiebreaker and regulation wins? I think it can definitely happen. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see Pittsburgh slide in probably as the second wildcard spot, which would set up a first round matchup for Carolina against the Islanders, Boston, Pittsburgh.
But I guess we'll know a lot more after tonight. Soft spot in my heart rooting for Buffalo to get in. Kevin Adams has done an amazing job in restructuring that team.
Trading Jack Eichel and they have significantly gotten better. And I wish him all the best and I think Buffalo is also fun to watch. Scott Burnside, I know I will see you during the playoffs. I appreciate your time, my friend. Anytime. Scott Burnside. Overtime, Scott B. Go check out Burnside on hockey. Get the newsletter if you want.
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