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 shortly, everyone!
Buzzmaster (3:04 PM)
We've got E.J.!
Christian (Foxborough, MA)
Do you think the Bruins will make it to the Finals? If so, do you think they will win?
EJ Hradek (3:06 PM)
I think they're in a great position...they've put themselves in a great position to move through the first round and facing a Montreal team that has really struggled down the stretch. That's the most important thing, is to put yourself in that kind of position. Many people feel the first round is the toughest. After that, I think the Bruins have as good a chance as anyone in the East, and if they get to the Finals, you're looking at one seven-game series. Any good team can win something like that. I don't think they're going to win the Cup this year, but I won't be shocked if they get there.
Mike ( Pa)
Who is the better team form last year, the Flyers or Pens? Who wins?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
I would say starting off, the Flyers are in better shape because they're heallthier on defense than they were last season, when they met the Penguins. If you recall, Kimo Timmonnen was out, and that is a real big injury against a team like Pittsburgh that has so many dynamic forwards.
Chris (Monterey, CA)
Do you think the lackluster play of the Sharks in their final two regular season games is an indication of what's to come in round 1? Or was it simply the Sharks playing cautiously and not wanting to risk further injuries?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
I don't think it has anything to do with how the Sharks will perform in the playoffs. You always want to win, but if you're the Sharks and you've had the kind of year they have had, and you're looking forward to the playoffs like they have been for such a long time, I think they are probably bored. They have been getting some guys back in their lineup, and some of them may not have been quite that sharp. I don't think those final two games will mean anything going forward.
What do the blackhawks have to do to win the series against Calgary?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
I think the Blackhawks are in a good position because they are facing a team that has had some injury problems and some problems on offense down the stretch. My biggest worry for the Hawks is their inexperience in the postseason and if they will get rattled at key times. But I like them in this series. They've had a lot of success against Calgary this year. This is a good match for them in the first round.
Jason (Spokane, WA)
Which 8 seed has the best chance of an upset? Montreal over Boston or Anaheim over San Jose? Or do either have any chance at all?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
I think Anaheim. They've finished the season real strong and are only two years removed from winning a Stanley Cup with some of the same players. They've got some great players on that team including two future HOF defensemen in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Their offense has gotten a boost from the emergence of rookies Bobby Ryan and Andrew Ebbett. The Ducks are as live an eighth seed as I've ever seen.
Jason (oceanside, ny)
Do you think the Rangers have any shot against the Capitals? It seems like the other ESPN analysts dont think so.
EJ Hradek (3:14 PM)
I would say the Rangers have a puncher's chance because they have a great goaltender. Anytime you have one like Lundqvist, you have a chance at winning a short series. The Caps will be carrying heavier expectations into this series. This group has not had that before, and sometimes they can weigh you down. I think the Caps will win, but this is not a walkover by any means.
Travis (Lancaster, PA)
Does Detroit have a realistic shot at repeating this year? Do you see them resigning Marian Hossa?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
Yes, I think they have a very realistic shot of repeating. This is a great hockey team, and they're benefiting from a good matchup in the first round. They're able to avoid the travel of having to go to Anaheim and play a physically tough team like the Ducks. I think they have a great chance of resigning Hossa. If they do, you can expect it will be another eleven/twelve/thirteen year deal.
Breakout player of the playoffs will be?
EJ Hradek (3:18 PM)
I like to answer that one for the teams I think will actually win...I don't know if this qualifies as a breakout, but I think Caps defenseman Mike Green and forward Alex Semin are two guys who have a terrific amount of skill and could be poised for a pretty big playoff run.
In the Habs Bruins series with the intensity and physicality that comes with the rivalry do you think the officials will let them play or try to squash any over physical play quickly considering what happened in the last game?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
I think the referees are aware of the recent history between the two teams. I think they will try to let them play, but they will, I think, have a short list if things get out of hand. But I think they will give them the opportunity to play good, hard, physical games.
Michael (Columbus, OH)
Are you willing to give the Columbus Blue jackets a chance in their series against Detroit? They have played them very well this year, and Detroit has some question marks, namely in consistency in the net and turning out towards the end of the season when the President's Trophy was out of reach.
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
I am willing to give them a chance. I think, again, I'm looking to give them a puncher's chance with a great young goalie in Steve Mason. They know the Red Wings very well from having played them six times during the regular season. They did compete well in those games, but I think they'll find the playoffs are a little different than the regular season. I think the Wings will win, but the series might be more competitive than people think.
chris (groton ct.)
Hey EJ do you think this is San Jose's last chance at the cup with this team? Another early exit and I think changes should be made.
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
I don't see that. I think this is a really good team. They have a tough draw in the first round. I still think they will win that series, but it will be very difficult. There may be those outside the group that have that feeling, but I don't see that. I think the core will remain the same. The GM Doug Wilson will continue to try to build and find the missing pieces. If there is a playoff disappointment this year, there might be some reason to tinker, but I wouldn't tear down such a good team.
Dan (Durham, NH)
Who will be the surprise team in the playoffs this year?
EJ Hradek (3:24 PM)
I don't think there are any surprises. There are some teams that are going to be favorites, no question, but when you look at all these teams from game-to-game, I don't know if there is one series that I would say I'd be absolutely shocked if there was an upset.
Who do you see coming out of the Canes/Devils series? Cam Ward has played tremendously, albeit under the radar - especially due to Rollie's performance, but is playing against Marty, with both teams a bit inconsistent offensively.
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
For me, that is the toughest series to pick. I really could go either way on it. I'm gonna favor the Hurricanes because I think Ward has been playing so well in goal, and I think their power play can get some things done against a Devils penalty-killing unit that has struggled down the stretch. Also, the Hurricanes have had some previous playoff success against New Jersey, so I don't think they will be intimidated. I expect this to be a really tough series. The key for the Devils will be scoring first. They are a much different and better team when they get the first goal.
Tom (River North)
EJ, just read that Draper is out the first two games against the Jackets. Do they bring up Leino?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
Darren Helm, who played in the playoffs for the Wings last year and did a nice job as a role player, will take Draper's spot while he's out injured. I think last year's experience will serve him well in the first round. I think you always miss a guy like Draper from an experience standpoint. He's been there so many times. But Helm is a good skater and I think they will be fine.
If the Sharks or Wings get to the finals, do you see any team in the east that can beat them in a seven game series?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Sure. I think there are a couple. I don't think there is a big difference in the teams. I would probably favor Detroit over everyone, but I think Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston...those are the top teams for me, but I could see other teams in the right circumstances getting that far and winning as well. I don't think it's a slam dunk that the Cup stays in the West.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Thanks for the great questions. Enjoy the start of the playoffs, it's the best time of the year.