Chat with EJ Hradek
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
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Buzzmaster (3:03 PM)
We've got EJ!
With Brouder going done for a long time, do you see the Devils and Hawks' working out a trade for Khabibulin? What would the Hawks want in return?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
It's not a great situation for the Devils. You lose a franchise goalie and the face of the team for 3-4 months. I don't think Khabibulin is not the answer for a number of reasons. I think the Devils plan to go forward in the short term with Kevin Weekes. I think they will monitor their performance. If they feel that those guys are not performing to a high enough level, I think at that point, they'll look to make an addition.
Peter (Sparta, NJ)
With Brodeur out at least 3 months, will the Devils stick with Weekes in net? With Rolston Holik Greeene (polus Martin) this team is hurting. They lost 2-0 last night and let's face it if Parise doesn't score - nobody does. Will they bolster their offense given that they are almost $3 million under the cap?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
I think Lou always does what he can to ice the best team that he can. Brodeur's injury will keep him out for a long time and give them some cap relief. That buys them some cap space.
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
I don't think Lou is a panic guy. I suspect he'll watch the team very closely in the next several games and he'll try to address whatever needs he thinks they have. If goaltending is one of those issues, then he'll look for a shortterm solution until Brodeur returns.
Will Brendan Shanahan play again this year? If so, where to?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
He seems to have indicated that he would like to play. He's been training to keep himself ready to play. he was hoping for a chance with the Rangers, but that has not materialized. He has said now he's looking for other opportunities. If I had to guess, I would say yes.
Matt Methuen, MA
Do you think the Rangers will have any lingering effects after their meltdown in Toronto on Sat night?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
No. I don't think so. That doesn't happen too often when you look at the history of the game - team scoring 5 goals in 5 minutes in the third period. I expect the Rangers to bounce back and come up with a good performance. Remember, Lundqvist was not in goal during that game. That lessens the impact of that collapse, because you'd have to wonder if Lundqvist was in goal would that have happened? I think the answer is no.
Is it possible to be 8-2-2 like the Detroit Red Wings are, and still be labeled as having a Stanley Cup hangover?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think so. When you look at the Red Wings numbers, their offense has been good, if not better on a per game average, but they are allowing more goals per game and more shots per game. If you cornered Mike Babcock, he'd be concerned about a couple of those red flags early in the season. I think they can play better and I suspect they will as the season goes on.
I'm a huge Oilers fan here in the Northeast. I was wondering your take on this awful offensive start by both Cogliano and Gagner.
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
I guess I'm not overly surprised in that they wouldn't be the first guys to have that sophomore jinx. A little bit of a tougher go around in the second season. Expectations tend to be a bit higher. I think they're both talented guys. I think they're finally out of it. I'm really never surprised, even with talented players like these guys, when guys have struggles in their second years. You'd like to avoid it if you can, but sometimes it's part of the maturation process in the NHL.
Matthew (Arlington, TX)
Hi EJ. Love you on NHL Live! Do you think my Stars can turn it around and get back in the pacific? What do you think of the Parrish signing? I like it solid right handed shot which we are lacking. Thanks
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
Yeah. There's no question it's early. My answer would be yes. But they're going to have to turn around their game dramatically. They're way out of their comfort level defensively. They're known as a team taht plays a strong two-way game. They've had a couple of days off. They'll have to come up with some answers.
Is anyone playing better than Thomas Vanek right now?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I judge anybody playing better, there's a lot of things that goes into an individual's game. But he's off to a great start as far as scoring goals. He's been a force offensively. That's a big reason they've gotten off to a big start. I expect him to be a big goal scorer because he's got terrific size and great hands. He's doing great and I'm not surprised at all.
I know agitators have their place in the game, but Steve Ott's act over the weekend against the Bruins was ridiculous. Stars players can't like having to stick up for a guy who goes out and goes after knees?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
Yeah. Guys like Steve Ott and other players who are the irritating guys to play against - pests in the league, I guess -- there's a line somewhere in their game they have to find. I thought Ott lowbridged and it was way over the line. I do wonder, with the Dallas Stars having guys like Ott and Avery on their team if that's one pest too many. I think they do have to find a way to be effective in the game, but not so much that they make it difficult for them to win.
Rob: New Castle, Pa.
Is there any truth to the rumor that the Pens and Thrashers are talking about Kovulchuk. If so who is being thrown around from the Pittsburgh side.
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
A) I have no idea. B) I think if the Pens want to give up Kovalchuk, the Pens would have to trade Crosby or Malkin. And C) maybe that would make sense for both teams. The Thrashers need a center to build their team around and the Penguins could use a dynamic winger to go along with Crosby or Malkin. There might be some sense to it, but it would be a monster deal and both managers would have to have a desire to make it happen. I doubt that's the case.
Jason (Long Island)
Hey EJ, with DiPietro down I really don't think MacDonald can carry the load for six weeks. Do you see the Isles making a move for a veteran goalie, like Khabibulin perhaps?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
No. I don't think the Islanders are in the market for that kind of goaltender. They're in the rebuilding mode. DiPietro has a long long contract. If there is a way to secure the goaltending behind him, they might do that, but I don't know if there's a guy out there like that.
sharks have started on fire no doubt, but this team won't be judged until playoffs. what do they need to do between now and then to finally get it done?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
I think between now and then, they have to continue to win games. Win important games against top opponents and send a message to those opponents that they're a different group this year. To move forward with one of the top records in the conference and earn home ice, if possible. Get used to playing the new system. If they don't do those things, they may not get to the playoffs or not be in a position to advance. You just want to play consistently. You want to make a statement against the top teams.
yes or no, Toews is the mvp this year?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
No. Not right now. He's gotten off to a little bit of a slow start himself. He does do some things that make him a valuable player. He's a character young man that a lot of teams would want to have. It's a little early to make predictions on MVPs and I would say at the end of the first month that he's not on the short list. But he's a valuable, valuable piece to the puzzle in Chicago.
Derek (Miami, FL)
From the early looks of it, this isn't your father's Florida Panthers. It really looks like this is a team that can win in the near future. Your thoughts?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I'm not so sure. Going into Atlanta, falling behind early and struggle, that's a bad loss. They went into St. Louis and didn't put up much of an effort and got shut out. I'm not sold on them. I've been waiting for them to get better. I've got to see more from them before I say that they're a real playoff contender.
Emery (Glen Rock, NJ)
Do you think Brodeur will ever be the same goalie again after this injury (given that it is his glove arm), or will his play start to decline from here on out?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
It would be really hard to comment on that, not being a doctor, not being someone who's aware of how guys respond to this kind of surgery. From the sound of it, they're confident that he'll come back from the surgery and be ready to play in 3-4 months. The plan is for him to be back on the ice and playing, that says to me that they think he'll be fine.
Dennis (Santa Clarita, Ca)
For the Kings, the loss of Jack Johnson for a while is a defensive set back. But what about LaBarbara, I'm not sold he's a #1 guy. What's your view?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
I think Jason LaBarbara has played well this year. I've been pleasantly surprised by the young Kings team. They have a group of defensemen that are very young, along with older defesemen like O'Donnell. They're doing a really good job of limiting shots against. Right now, I think they're allowing the third fewest shots per game. The Kings would love to have Jack Johnson in the lineup, but I've been surprised by a young group of players that have bought in.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
LaBarbara, in the minors showed he can be a consistent goaltender, but has yet to show it in the NHL.
Any buzz around Marion Gaborik?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
He's been hurt. Obviously there's been a lot of talk of whether or not the Wild can resign him. I would imagine, there have been at least informal discussions to see what kind of interest there would be from other teams. It's something that might be on hold until he's back healthy.
Geoff (Albany, NY)
With Broder down, who becomes the Venzia favorite?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
I think right off the top, you have to think about Henrik Lundqvist. He's off to a good start. Roberto Luongo, who's not off to a great start, but he's viewed as one of the top guys. There's a bunch of other guys: Ryan Miller's off to a good start. Tim Thomas has battled to respectability in this league. But we have a lot of good goaltenders in this league.
Do you think the pens have enough grit to make it to the finals again?
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
We're really early in the season, when you think about the Penguins. They've had some injuries. They're still trying to find their way with their chemistry. I think they're a work in progress this year with some of the changes. I wouldn't rule them out from getting to the Cup finals. The key would be getting healthy and finding chemsitry. They're playing great defensively.
Mike (Effingham, IL)
What are your surprise teams to this point?
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
Oh boy....The league is so close, I don't know if there are any surprises any more. I think Toronto is surprising. LA, record wise hasn't been great, but they've been more competitive night in night out. Dallas has been a big surprise negatively - they've allowed 50 goals in 12 games.
I'm a HUGE Thrashers fan (yes, we do exist). On a scale of 1-10, how bad are they? Don't go easy on them, no one else has
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
Well, from 1-10, I'd say 2 or 3. They're not very good. I said it a long time ago about the Thrashers, they're just not built well. When you're building teams, you build from the center and defensemen. They don't have a legit No. 1 C or a legit No. 1 D. When I look at the team, I don't think they're built very well, so I'm not surprised to see the struggles that they have had.
Do you think the Capitals have a legitmate shot at going deep in the playoffs behind Theordore?
EJ Hradek (3:35 PM)
I think so. I think it's early. Jose has not been great for them so far. But I don't think the Caps as a team haven't been the same team as last year either. I think there's room for improvement as a group. They're talented and there's time for the group to get on the same page. No guarantee and it won't be easy, but it's too early to make a final decision on that yet.
Jonathan (Wellesley, MA)
Can the Bruins win a Stanley Cup with Tim Thomas or is his unorthodox style, however effective, just not enough to compete at that level?
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
I guess stranger things have happened. Tim Thomas is off to a terrific start this year. He has a .944 save percentage. But he has to be supported by a strong group around him. I don't think the Bruins currently are a Stanley Cup contender.
How about Zach Parise. Do you think the Devils will finally have a 40-50 goal scorer on the team? Or atleast will he make the all-star team?
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
I think Zach is a terrific young player. I think he's certainly worthy of being in the all-star game. The best thing I can say about him is he gives you a chance to win. I think any team would be thrilled to have him.
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions. Enjoy the hockey tonight!
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