Chat with EJ Hradek
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join Hradek in The Show on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:01 PM)
E.J. will be here in ten minutes, everyone!
Buzzmaster (3:14 PM)
E.J.'s been delayed a bit--we're looking for him now!
A (Arlington, VA)
How deep do you see the Capitals going in the playoffs? Do you see them making a run without a significant late-season acquisition?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
Yeah. You would always like to have a deal that fortifies you, but I really like them. They have had a great season so far with dynamic players that are very hard to stop. They play a different game because of that. They will be a very dangerous team in the playoffs.
EJ, who is to blame for the Rangers' terrible power play? They let in another SH goal to Philly (5-3 no less) bringing their PP to +12 on the yr. That's awful! And it can't be a player issue...even the Islanders have a better PP!!
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
I think it can be a player issue. The guys they've got on their unit are just not executing properly and are just not talented enough to execute. They don't have a legit guy to run the PP from the point. They don't seem to make enough of an effort to create traffic in front of the net, and they get outworked. I think the coaching staff has to take some of the blame as well, but this is a team that doesn't score a lot period. The reason is, their offensive personnel isn't good enough.
Jon ( Neptune, NJ)
Do you think the Devils will be in the running for a solid two way d-man such as Bouwmeester ,Kaberle or Morris?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
I would say this: the Devils would help themselves if they could add a top-four defenseman to their group. I think most teams in the league could say that. Adding that type of player to the mix could be the difference in pushing them deep into the playoffs. That kind of acquisition, a lot of that could come down to salary cap issues and what other clubs would want, and what the Devils are willing to give up.
Who is your M.V.P at this point in the season?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
Alex Ovechkin. He's such a dynamic player, and he has tremendous impact in so many different areas of the game for the Capitals. He would be my choice.
Today in the Boston paper's they stated that Erik Cole believe he is going to be traded to the Bruins and name of Jordan Leopold still comes up. What are the chance the Bruins are able to bring both or one to Boston?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Especially when you have guys who are potentially unrestricted FAs in the summer, those are the names you will see in possible trade stories. Certainly Erik Cole is a guy who would fit that bill. I just think there will be a lot of talk between now and March 4. Whether they will end up in Boston or not is speculative. The Bruins have limited money they can spend. Any team looking to move these players would want to get something in return. I think the Bruins will be looking to do anything to strengthen their club for the playoffs, but I think there will be a lot of clubs competing for a lesser number of players, which should limit what each team will do.
Jake (VA Beach)
I've been saying it for sometime, but isn't it evident now that Lunqvist is NOT a top 5 goaltender? His off-nights are horrendous (4+ goals) and happen way too often.
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
I would disagree with that. I think Henrik Lunqvist is a terrific goalie. Like all goalies, he has off nights. I think the problem is that he's playing behind a team that provides very little offensive support. That means he's under terrific pressure to be perfect or near-perfect. If he was playing in a situation with more offensive support, I think that would enable him to be more relaxed and therefore even better. He has an Olympic gold medal, and his stats have been really strong over his career. He's one of the best in the league, in my opinion.
Alex ( Saratoga Springs, NY)
Can the Sens make the playoffs? They have a really easy upcoming schedule , against some struggling teams, and they can make up some ground. Remember, they have two games in hand, on the eight seed, and Bryan Murray said that he would be a buyer if they continued to play well. Is Bouwmeester in our future?
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
I think it'd be hard for the Senators to make the playoffs. They have played well lately, a credit to their organization. It's too much ground to make up. If they want to try to trade for Jay Bouwmeester, they will have to move some significant assets to get him. It's possible, but Florida may just decide to hold onto him.
EJ Hradek (3:35 PM)
As of today, they are 12 points out of the playoff spot. That's a lot of ground to make up.
Anaheim is currently in 9th. The teams chasing them and the teams they are chasing all have games-in-hand. Any increase in the Pronger/Niedermayer talk?
EJ Hradek (3:36 PM)
I think if the Ducks continue to struggle, we'll probably here more about them trying to trade veteran players. I don't think that Niedermayer is going to be traded.
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
I do think there is a chance that Pronger will be moved. I think the Ducks will still be in the chase by March 4, so they'll hold onto their cards.
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
Anything they do will be related to salary cap issues.
Who do you have winning the Norris?
EJ Hradek (3:39 PM)
That race has gotten tight considering the terrific play of Mike Green in Washington.
EJ Hradek (3:39 PM)
But I still have to give an edge to Zdeno Chara in Boston. Chara impacts the game so much and is a big part of the Bruins' terrific success. Right now, it seems like it is a two-horse race between Chara and Green.
daniel (Garland, Texas)
Where do the Stars go without Brad Richards? Will they trade for a forward or stand pat?
EJ Hradek (3:41 PM)
If they can find a player on the market to help them, they will try to make some kind of move. They have a couple of guys on long-term injury, which gives them the cap space to try to do something to try to fill the void created by the injury to Brad Richards. It's tough timing for them and for Richards.
Brandon (Mountain Home, Idaho)
Is next year going to be a rebuilding year for the Avalanche or do they have enough assets to stay in the playoff hunt next year?
EJ Hradek (3:42 PM)
Interesting question. I think the Avalanche will have a pretty good group, but I do think goaltending is an obvious need for them. They need a reliable, consistent goaltender, which will determine where they will go next year. If they find that guy, they could be in the playoff hunt. If they continue to have a problem at that position, it will hold them back.
William (Salinas, CA)
Do you see the Sharks' recent struggles, especially on the blue line, as a bump in the road or a cause for concern?
EJ Hradek (3:44 PM)
I think it's more of a bump in the road. Part of the problem is Dan Boyle has been dinged up, and he did not play in their loss to Jersey on Sunday. When you have your No. 1 defenseman out of the lineup, it will create issues. The season is so long that every team is going to go through those peaks and valleys. The Sharks had a terrific season, and I think the biggest challenge for them is staying focused on a day-to-day basis until the playoffs. They know that is where they will be judged and they are eager to get there.
Speaking of Anaheim, what is up with Giguere? He has been abysmal. Do they ever give up on him? Hiller has been solid. Is Giguere fighting an injury?
EJ Hradek (3:45 PM)
J.S. Giguere has had a very difficult year. His dad passed away not too long ago, and I think that when someone has such a personal loss, it's very difficult to know how they are impacted by such a thing. I think there is no question by J.S. Giguere has not been as consistent as he normally is. They're hoping he finds his way and gets back to being the kind of goaltender he has been for the past few seasons.
Bob (Pittsburgh, PA)
Can the Pens right the ship with the new coach and make the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:48 PM)
I think it's gonna be tough . The Penguins put themselves in a tough spot. They're in a tough competition with three or four or five teams in the last couple spots in the Eastern Conference. The return of Gonchar on defense will have a far bigger impact than the coaching change. Gonchar is a puck-moving defenseman that will help them get the puck out of their zone, and aid a power play that has struggled, even with two of the three best offensive players in the league. A lot of this will be dependent on Gonchar's return to form, and consistent play from Fleury in goal.
EJ Hradek (3:48 PM)
It also wouldn't hurt if GM Ray Shero could find another winger or two before the trade deadline that could help support Crosby and Malkin.
EJ Hradek (3:49 PM)
Thanks for all the questions. We'll talk to you next week!