Q: How do the Detroit Red Wings manage to field excellent, winning teams year after year, while living with the same constraints as any other team?
Richard Borio, Somers, Conn.
MOLINARI: Good coaching and shrewd front-office decisions on personnel matters like who to retain or pursue in free agency has to get some of the credit -- as does ownership's willingness to spend liberally in the pre-salary cap days -- but the most important factor might be that the Red Wings make better selections in the later rounds of the draft than any other team in the league.
It is one thing for the Penguins to get Sidney Crosby and Marc-Andre Fleury with the No. 1 choice in their draft years, and Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal when they select second. It's quite another to land a Henrik Zetterberg with the 210th choice, as Detroit did in 1999, or a Tomas Holmstrom 257th overall, as the Red Wings had five years earlier. Or Pavel Datsyuk with choice No. 171 in 1998, or Nicklas Lidstrom 53rd in 1989.
While the Penguins have done a decent job of turning mid- and late-round picks into contributors -- guys like Rob Scuderi (134th in 1998), Max Talbot (234th in 2002) and Tyler Kennedy (99th in 2004) -- the Red Wings have had no equal when it comes to identifying top-shelf talent late in drafts, and then developing it into difference-making players in the NHL.
Q: How do you account for the Penguins centers suddenly becoming so proficient on faceoffs? Jordan Staal, who was somewhere around 30 percent during the regular season, has been over 50 percent during the playoffs and Sidney Crosby seemed to be winning draws at will on Sunday.
Paul Czajka, Lansdale, Pa
MOLINARI: Unfortunately for the Penguins -- especially when they're about to enter a best-of-seven against a team whose game is based on puck-possession -- they remain one of the league's worst faceoff teams, just as they were during the regular season, winning just 46.7 percent of their draws in the playoffs.
Staal wasn't quite as bad on faceoffs during the regular season as you suggested -- he controlled 42.2 percent of the ones he handled then -- but has, in fact, registered a dramatic improvement during the postseason. He is the team leader, going 115-106 for a success rate of 52 percent.
Crosby, on the other hand, didn't fare quite as well in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final as you believed; he was 9-7 then, and his success rate actually has slipped a bit, going from 51.4 percent during the regular season to 49 percent in the playoffs.
Q: After watching the Dallas-Detroit game in Dallas the other night, I realized (the Stars) have their cameras very low in the arena. That does not allow viewers to see plays develop due to constant camera panning and they cannot see the puck down low or in the near corners. It just appeared very unappealing to watch. Have you heard anything regarding where the cameras will be in the new arena?
Brad Thompson, Pittsburgh
MOLINARI: Volumes could be -- and probably have been -- filled with all the moderator of this forum does not know about the television business, including the technical aspects of getting a game broadcast on the air and how decisions are made about which shot is the best to show at a particular moment. (Frankly, things get a bit dicey when anything more than successfully operating the on-off button on the remote control is called for.)
As for the city's new multi-purpose arena, however, a Penguins official said that camera locations have not been finalized, but added that fans will not have their views blocked and that the NHL does like lower camera angles.