Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:01 PM)
EJ is here!
EJ Hradek (3:03 PM)
It's good to be back. Let's get to the questions!
With the Devils as hot as they are in the second half, even if they don't make the playoffs, would they become a top 5 team in the East (after signing Parise of course) for 2011-12?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
It's really hard to speculate how the carryover of this unprecedented run they've had these last few weeks and how it will be moving forward to next year. First and foremost, you have to find out if they'll have the same coach next year. That will be a huge decision moving forward. Secondly, there will be changes to this group in the offseason. We'll have to see what happens in the offseason, I guess is what I'm saying.
So, 8 straight for Chicago...what do you think? Are they peaking at the right time?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
It looks that way, right? Putting an 8-game win streak together at this point in the season especially considering they were battling just to make a playoff spot is something that is coming at the right time. Chicago has had some ups and downs this year. Just when I thought they were going to find their way, they stumble. They're on a nice run. They play Florida tonight, whom they should beat. Florida is rebuilding, so maybe they can get to 9-0. I've said it all year, they have a great group of core players. It just was a matter of if they could get some goaltending. I've been waiting for Chicago to play well this season and now that they are, we'll have to see if they can sustain it. That will be interesting to me to watch the next several weeks.
Jim (Phoenix, AZ)
Do you think the ownership sale of the coyotes will eventually get done?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
One way or the other. That's life, right? I don't think that there's anything in the history of mankind that hasn't come to some sort of conclusion. In reading some of the different accounts of everything, something will happen. The city of Glendale is in a tough spot. It's not a great spot to be in, having the tax payers take on an extra burden. The other side of the burden is if the team leaves, they'll have a brand new building with no tenant. As this thing's unfolded, that's been he underlying thing for me. You don't want that building empty without a tenant, but then you don't want to fund it with tax payer money. We'll probably know more about it as this week goes through and they have to push these bonds.
Would you say New Meadowlands Stadium is the favorite to land next years Winter Classic?
EJ Hradek (3:12 PM)
I don't know about favorite, but it will be one of the spots that they consider. The Rangers are huge. New York is a big market. The Winter Classic is driven a lot by television concerns. I think it would be one of the sites to consider. Oen of the issues with playing there is where unlike Pittsburgh, where there is just one tenant, at the Meadowlands, there are two. You need both to be gone for a week or 10 days to have the time to build the rink. But I would think that's one place on the list.
What do you think is the over/under on fights in tonight's Bos/Mon game and how fast do you think one will happen? Do you think that someone from Mon needs to come out and challenge someone on the Bruins to prevent what happened last month in Boston from happening again?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
My experience has been with these types of things where you have the type of game that we had last month with the 8-6 game and all of the fights, the league and the refs are keeping an eye on things. Based on what I've seen over the years, you usually don't see the follow up because the league is watching. I think it will be a good game, but it won't be like the last time.
Britt (Los Angeles)
LA is sure making this a scary year to get into/the playoffs...where can you or where do you see the Kings possibly finishing with it being SO close in the Pacific Division?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
I think right now the teams that are in the chase if you look at the standings, they're separated by a one, several are tied. It's changing on a daily basis. The Flames have not had the same spot in the standings the last 10 days. It's like bumper cars. In the Pacific where all 5 teams have been playing well, it's even worse. I think the one issue for the Pacific is that since they're all competitive, they play games that are tough. That will work against those teams in the division. The Kings finish the season in a home and home against the Ducks. That could be make or break for both of those teams. It's hard to say exactly where they'll finish, but it will be a real battle til the end.
EJ, I like what the Caps have developed into this year, but I dont think there done transitioning. When Mike Green and Eric Fehr return to the ice, could we see a perfect monster?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
I don't know. The good thing with the Caps is they're getting points. They're winning games. Like everybody, you want to be as healthy as can be. I look at it, and I've said it before, but injuries and matchups are so critical. For Washington, I'll be curious to who they play in the first round. Those are the things that are important. They need to be more proficient on the power play. They're not getting the penalties. When you're attacking, that's when you're drawing penalties. Their 5 on 5 continues to be strong. They'er one of the more interesting teams to watch going into the playoffs.
scott (hagerstown MD )
Does Crosby need to return in the regular season to be on playoff roster?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
It has nothing to do with it. As long as he can return and play. He can join in progress at any time. There's no eligibility issues for Sidney. But he has to be healthy and practiced for conditioning.
Do the Flyers get back on track tonight? Are the Oilers exactly what this team needs?
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
If you don't get back on track against the last place team on home ice with a day off to get focused, then you have more serious issues. I expect a good effort from the Flyers. I think they'll win the game and get themselves that focused on the things that got them to the top of the East. But you ahve to get it done on the ice. I think they will.
Richard (Greensboro, NC)
Hurricanes have a lot of home games left, but they really need to start taking care of business to ensure they make the playoffs. What needs to improve them to get back on the right track?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
The Hurricanes are just like the teams they're battling with. The Rangers, the Leafs. Carolina is a team that relies on heavily on their goaltender playing well. The leadership they have from Staal. I just think they're one of these teams that will have inconsistency because of the roster. The addition of Allen at the trade deadline gives them more depth. That's where they're at. They'll be competitive with the Buffalos and Rangers and it will be a battle to the end. Buffalo has played well. I suspect it will be a fight to the finish with Carolina. But Carolina was the worst team in the league on face-offs. They need to improve. The lost 71% of the face-offs to Chicago the other night.
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
Staal is a terrific player in this league, but that's one area of his game that he's really struggled at.
Who's your MVP right now?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
That's a great question. That is a great question. Crosby was like Secretariat at the beginning of the season. Then he's missed the last two months. He's out of the race. Tim Thomas was a candidate, but he's come back to the pack. Carey Price is worth considering. The Sedin twins. Kessler. Stamkos. St. Louis. I think it will be really interesting. I'll get a ballot for that in about 6 weeks. I would say this year is a wide open race. It's there this year for someone playing well.
Is Toews in the same catagory as the Crosby, Ovechkin, and other elite players of the NHL?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
I think he's in a little bit of a different category, because he's not as dynamic as those guys, but if you're starting a team, he has to be really high on your list. Really high. As a center, those are guys that impact the game. There are so many parts to his game. He's a fierce competitor. Leader. Crosby would be the first pick, but Toews might be the second pick. He's a big, big time player.
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
Thanks for the questions as always. Follow me on Twitter: @EJHradek_ESPN. Come back next week and we'll do it again and we'll see if any of these Western teams gain a point on each other.