Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, hockey writer Katie Strang stops by to chat about the latest news from around ice.
In addition to covering the NHL as a whole, Strang, who previously covered the Islanders for Newsday, also covers the Rangers, Isles and Devils for ESPNNewYork.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
Send your questions now and join Strang Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (3:00 PM)
Hey hockey fans! Lots of fun stuff to tackle this week, so let's not waste any time. Fire away!
What do you feel the Leafs need to address to get better and what do you feel is there biggest weakness? Thanks Katie!
Katie Strang (3:02 PM)
It's no secret that the Leafs are a poor possession team, one that has managed to win despite being habitually outshot. That will come back to bite them eventually if not corrected. They'll return Joffrey Lupul tonight against LA, but the team is banged up down the middle. Losing Tyler Bozak a big blow for the Leafs
Were you surprised by AVs response to the question about his roster after the game last night ? And does it send a shot across Sathers bow ?
Katie Strang (3:04 PM)
I think it was designed to send a message to his players more than anything honestly. I think he's becoming increasingly frustrated/exasperate with how to motivate them. I honestly did not interpret that as a veiled plea or slam of Sather in any way. But I am skeptical that the Rangers are capable of playing the type of offensive-minded game he wants. This team thrived under Tortorella because of a defensively-structured, blue-collar grinding style. They have no discernible identity now, it seems
Seeing as how you enjoy gluten free cheese curls in your sweatpants, what are your other G free favorites?
Katie Strang (3:06 PM)
Hahaha, glad you are an M vs. W podcast listener, one of my favorite spots to do because they are both equally fantastic and hilarious. I have since found that Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips (also from Trader Joe's) provide a nice alternative. I'd use this space to shamelessly plug Glutino pretzels, but it's become dangerous for me to even think about them. Can't buy them at the store anymore. I crush the whole bag in one sitting. My krpytonite. Sort of defeats the G-free purpose
Max (Long Island )
Ryan Strome will score over or under 40 points from now until the end of the season?
Katie Strang (3:08 PM)
See, this is what I was afraid of when the Islanders made this move. Though he has rightfully earned the promotion, tearing up the AHL in recent weeks, he cannot be viewed as the organization's savior right now. He is a top prospect with a ton of potential. It takes time to adjust to the NHL game, and he is still developing physically. Think we all need to temper expectations here. Also remember, he is entering a very difficult situation. The team won last night, but a 10-game slide is the type of free-fall that can become toxic to everyone around the team
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Katie, I don't know whether to laugh or cry when I see a "somber" Shawn Thornton "fighting back tears" in his post-game press conference saying "it was not his intention" to hurt "Brooksy?" Give me a break. Oh really? You punched a man in the face repeatedly with your bare fists and your intention was not to hurt him? What was your intention then? To show him love and tenderness through osmosis from your knuckles? That is like a hunter standing over a dead deer he just shot in the head and saying "I didn't mean to hurt him, I am actually a big believer in animal rights." Next time spare us the dramatics.
Katie Strang (3:12 PM)
I see what you are saying here, Jesse. I think what Thornton did was an awful thing, and maybe that will end up defining him as a player, I don't know. What I do know is that I've always had a ton of respect for Thornton as someone that approached that role with honor and integrity. I was surprised that happened, but I guess you really can't be surprised that a violent game where players habitually toe the line is going to have some really disturbing incidents. I can also say that I think Thornton was genuine in his remorse. And honestly, that should not change his punishment but it is not meaningless. I still have a bad taste in my mouth by how James Neal handled himself in a similar situation
Katie, best guess on suspension for Thornton? I say 10. While the outcome was not intentional, the actions that brought it about were. I view this as way worse that a borderline hit that happens at game speed.
Katie Strang (3:13 PM)
Definitely double-digits. I'd say 10-12. Will be very interesting to see if the NHLPA decides to appeal.
Would you rather score the Cup clinching goal in OT (Kane in 2010, Arnott in 2000) or make the Cup clinching save in the final seconds (Fleury in 2009)??
Katie Strang (3:14 PM)
Well, I'd never want to be a goalie so I'll take the latter. And when you're speaking in terms of iconic, lasting images, I think the winning goal scored always takes precedent, no?
Ovechkin scored four last night in a come-from-behind win against the Lightning, but that four goal performance is overshadowing the reason that the Caps were behind in the first place: the play of Mike Green in the first period. In the first period he racked up 18 penalty minutes, and this is just the most recent example of his struggles. What's going on with this guy?
Katie Strang (3:16 PM)
Not sure, Joe. I really picked this season to be a big one for Green with last year's injury woes behind him. Not sure what to make of this. In other news, 26 goals in 29 games for Ovechkin. Could be an interesting race between No. 8 and Sidney Crosby for the hardware at the end of this season.
How can I convince my fiance to have a hockey themed wedding?
Katie Strang (3:19 PM)
Wow, that is a bold and aggressive request, Michael. I can offer you some words of advice that if you want something your way with the wedding, you better be ready for all the hair-pulling and stress that comes with all the planning :)Also -- and this should double as a very thinly-veiled hint to my own fiance -- taking the reigns and planning an amazing honeymoon could sway her ;)
Zander (Ithaca, NY)
other than the obvious yo-yo (JT Miller), do you see NYR considering bringing up McIlrath or Kristo? McIlrath could be the kind of spark this team needs right now. even if he'd only be playing 5-6 mins a night.
Katie Strang (3:20 PM)
Startin to wonder if Conor Allen may be ahead of McIlrath on the depth chart, actually
The Isles seemingly have to trade Vanek huh? What do they need to get to make this not seem like an error?
Katie Strang (3:23 PM)
Depends where they are in the standings, Ari, but the way things are going then I would assume yes. Though the team's hopes of potentially re-signing him were not unfounded -- he was initially considering moving his family to NY, not sure if this ever came to fruition -- there have been no substantive contract discussions.The feeling from Vanek's camp was, "let's give him some time to settle in and then go from there" and from what I can gather, Garth Snow has been respectful of that. Considering where team is at, though, I think it is more likely that Snow will try to move him at the deadline
Harris (in Syosset)
Katie, yesterday on insider trading Dreger said the Isles were looking for a top pairing defenseman. Do you have any idea who would even be on the market at this point in the year?
Katie Strang (3:25 PM)
No, because that is what every team, struggling or not, covets at this time of year. The Rangers have been looking for a top-four right-handed defenseman since the loss of Michael Sauer two years ago. No luck. They aren't easy to find/acquire
Jimmy (Mt. Kisco)
I felt James Neal's intentional knee to Marchand's head while down deserved more than 5 games- we have seen dirty play from him before. Your thoughts?
Katie Strang (3:26 PM)
Absolutely. Extremely dirty. Think he deserved double digits as well. I wasn't in on the phone hearing, but if he approached it in the same way he did after the games, I'd be insulted if I were Brendan Shanahan
Charlie (Montreal, Quebec)
Hi Katie! Who's on the radar to become the next GM of the Sabres?
Katie Strang (3:29 PM)
It appears that the list keeps growing as Kings' scouting director Mike Futa was added. Not sure if LA will grant that request, but the whole process has shown that Pat LaFontaine is willing to exercise patience in selecting Darcy Regier's replacement. That's a good thing because whoever it may be will have his work cut out for him
Is there a "forum" to vote re. returning to playing NHL hockey through overtime until the winning team scores?
Katie Strang (3:30 PM)
I wish, Lawrence, I wish....
JP (Babylon, NY)
The Isles still need to figure out a more stable option in the crease. Do you see a trade happening any time soon? Any specific names out there? I still feel like one of the young Anaheim goalies would be a great option
Katie Strang (3:31 PM)
If Anaheim moves anyone, JP, it stands to reason that it will be impending UFA Jonas Hiller. Gotta get Fasth healthy first, though.
whats with lundquist and the rangers? do you see a trade soon?
Katie Strang (3:33 PM)
If you are suggesting a trade involving Lundqvist -- I hope you are not -- it is out of the question. As I reported last week, his new contract includes a full no-movement clause
Brian (Long Island)
It's clear that the Islanders, owned by Wang and run by Snow, have no interest in winning nor will anyone be held accountable for repeated failures within the organization. Is a sale of the team the only way out for Islanders fans?
Katie Strang (3:36 PM)
Honestly? Yes, I think so. It's easy to call for Capuano's head or pile onto the players but ultimately, the problems begin at the top and the onus falls on Charles Wang. He's never shown the true commitment to providing the team with the necessary funds and supports necessary to build a franchise in the right way. Snow isn't off the hook, either, for he has mismanaged his fair share and committed some costly gaffes, but he is handcuffed by Wang to a certain degree. I truly believe it will be continue to be Groundhogs Day for this team until ownership switches hands.
Hatrick Swayze (NY area)
When it's all said and done, who along with Pittsburgh, makes up the 3 guaranteed berths from the Meh-tro Division?
Katie Strang (3:38 PM)
That's an amazing handle you have, sir:1. Pittsburgh2. Washington3. NY RangersOnly one of those teams has the potential to do some damage
Judeman5000, CPA (Thornton, CO)
I'm sure by now you've seen the tons of angry comments regarding your power rankings, particularly regarding the Avalanche. Would you like to take this opportunity to explain your reasoning further? I'm guessing the hockey world isn't ready to commit to us being a good team and the recent struggles (if we can use that word in a league with Buffalo, NY Rangers, Islanders, etc.) haven't helped instill faith.
Katie Strang (3:42 PM)
Sure, Judeman, and I'm glad you asked. For one, I have found the Avs one of the most compelling teams to follow this season and I consider their success this season a tremendous storyline. Power rankings are made to reflect how a team is playing right now, which is why we do them on a weekly basis. I made my judgement based on how they played in the last week. If you remember, they won only one of three and got their doors blown off by one of the league's worst teams in the Edmonton Oilers. Their play has slipped recently, which is why they plummeted down the rankings. Doesn't mean I don't think they are or can be a top team. They just are not playing like one right now
Ben (San Jose)
Can Joe Thornton PLEASE score 4 goals before he retires? All for the sake of hilarity of roosters!
Katie Strang (3:43 PM)
You and every other fan is hoping...
Shawn (Garfield, NJ)
What is taking the Islanders so long to do the obvious in firing coach Jack Capuano?
Katie Strang (3:48 PM)
I don't think Garth Snow believes Jack Capuano to be the problem, and to a large degree he's right. Do I think that a coach with more cache and experience could have a positive impact on the Islanders? Absolutely, but again the problems are far-reaching and won't be corrected with any sort of quick-fix move. Now, that said, just because Snow doesn't feel him to be the problem, doesn't mean he won't ultimately become a casualty anyway. Lots of times the coach plays the role of scapegoat, and if things continue this way, Capuano might too.There is also the money issue, which I've raised in this space before. A lot of the Islanders problems come down to them being cheap. Fire Capauno and you have to pay someone else. Wanna go after a big fish like Laviolette? Be prepared to pay up. Not convinced the Isles are prepared and/or willing to do that.
Katie Strang (3:48 PM)
Ok all, we are going to end there today. Great questions as always. Can't wait to see you again next week!