Welcome to Hockey Central: Ask the Insiders where fans get to pick the topics. This week The Insiders answer several questions including whether James Van Riemsdyk should move to centre and how long Ron Rolston will remain as the Buffalo Sabres head coach.
I think when you have a guy like JVR the coach will always have some options on where he can play. There can be some instances where he can play the middle and I’m all for that. But the bottom line here is Bozak is a centreman and he ain’t going anywhere. It’s not his fault he’s not a prototypical big stud No.1 centreman. I, for one think he’s done a remarkable job holding the fort down up until now. It’s really up to Nonis and Carlyle to fill the void temporary with JVR or whoever every once in a while or get bold and trade for that No.1 guy and finally put Bozak in the No.2 spot where he really belongs.
Andrew Bobeck asks: How much longer will Ron Rolston last as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres?
Nick Kypreos: Maybe you should ask his owner Terry Pegula that very same question. From what I hear, Regier’s job is in jeopardy but that doesn’t mean his boss can’t wake up and change his mind from one minute to the next. I can’t believe he hasn’t responded already. Rome is burning and he’s nowhere to be found. Pegula desperately needs to back up his GM with a vote of confidence or let him go. Until ownership does that, Buffalo fans will remain angry and hostile toward their once proud franchise.
Mitch Bach asks: Will the Flames keep up their stellar performance for the rest of the season?
John Shannon(@JSportsnet): While I think the whole hockey world is impressed with the start Bob Hartley’s team has had, I think it’s a bit much for them to continue at this pace. This is a learning year for many of the young Flames, and a chance for some of the vets to re-establish their careers. It might be entertaining hockey this team plays, but it’s still going to be a long, long year for the Saddledome faithful.
Mark Spector(@SportsnetSpec): Calgary’s work ethic is off the charts, and will have to stay that way if the Flames have any chance to keep collecting points at the same rate. Some departments are worrisome, however:
• Jiri Hudler is leading Calgary in scoring and has a shooting percentage of 26.7% – nearly twice his lifetime average of 14.3%.
• Sean Monahan looks unreal at a point per game. History tells us the rookie will have a difficult time keeping up anywhere near that pace.
• And the goaltending. Calgary is near the league bottom in goals against per game, and the ‘tenders haven’t been bad. If they falter…
@SportsPixGuru asks: Do you not think the Oilers could use the services of Ilya Bryzgalov?
Shannon: I don’t. The Oilers have invested nine seasons in Devan Dubnyk. When he plays well, he can play at the NHL level. What he needs to become is more consistent. And let’s face it, Bryz would be a distraction…particularly in a Canadian city.
Spector: We’re not saying the Oilers don’t have some questions at the goaltending position. We are saying though, that Ilya Bryzgalov is not the answer. The only thing worse than having one inconsistent goalie, is having two of them. Bryzgalov also is not known as a good guy in the room, and any goalie that comes into Edmonton will have to play nice with Devan Dubnyk.
Dallas Pinch asks: Which of the rookies to make it past the nine-game mark surprises you the most?
Shannon: I suppose the answer, Dallas, should be all of them, yet none of them. Seth Jones, we knew was going to stick. I’m surprised that Olli Maatta has played as well as he has, and been told to rent an apartment in Pittsburgh. I don’t doubt that he is NHL-ready, but thought a team with NHL vets like Niskanen, Scuderi, Martin, Orpik and Engelland wouldn’t need the 19-year-old Finn. I have been talking to my friend Marek for at least 2 seasons about Maatta’s talent offensively, and he has shown some of that in Pittsburgh, so even his great start shouldn’t be a surprise.
Spector: Probably Morgan Rielly, because of Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle’s historic tough approach to bringing along young defencemen. Pittsburgh’s Olli Maatta deserves a mention too. Breaking into the NHL as a teen-aged D-man is the tallest order in the game today.