Chat with Katie Strang
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, 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 Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Katie Strang (12:59 PM)
Happy Friday hockey fans! I know you guys are all gearing up for some playoff hockey and I can't wait for the post-season play to begin, either.With that said, let's get to your questions.Fire Away!
What player has the most pressure on him entering this years playoffs?
Katie Strang (1:01 PM)
I think St. Louis' Ryan Miller will be one player shouldering very lofty expectations. The Blues went all in to acquire their No. 1 netminder in Miller and the long-time Sabre has been struggling between the pipes as of late. He was yanked in last night's loss but will get another chance to get his confidence up against the Dallas Stars tonight. Lot of pressure on him and the Blues to get it together
Greg (Bay Area)
How worried should bruins fans be about their inability to close out games recently? I know players are getting rested, but conceding tying goals with under 2 minutes left in the 3rd in back to back games isn't a good omen for the playoffs
Katie Strang (1:03 PM)
I actually think resting some of those guys is a good idea. Remember how gassed Zdeno Chara looked at points last spring? Listen, the Bruins have the deepest team in the East and it's not even close. If I'm a B's fan, I'm worried about very little right now. In fact, I think they'll be the ones hoisting the Cup come June.
Ethan Rondeau (Massachusetts)
Really enjoyed listening to you on Hockey Today all season. What will be the fallout in the Rangers camp if they don't get out of the first round, and what do you see as being the biggest concern for the Rangers in the playoffs? I personally think it's forward depth. Thanks for your time.
Katie Strang (1:05 PM)
I agree, Ethan. They obviously have the goaltending in Lundqvist. They have a strong blue line if McDonagh returns healthy. But the team's production up front will be the X factor for the Rangers. Will Nash have a better spring than last year? Will St. Louis continue to struggle? Those will be the questions facing the Rangers soon. There will definitely be some discontent if NY fails to advance past the first round, but I'd be surprised about any major fallout. Neither Sather nor Vigneault are going anywhere
Minnesota or Union?
Katie Strang (1:06 PM)
Going with Union, in solidarity with my boy Eric Hornick, the Islanders genius statistician extraordinaire
Stu (Newport Beach)
Katie, the Ducks can win out and get the top spot in the West, who do you see finishing with the 1 seed in the West? Looks like that ANA vs COL game on Sunday will be pretty meaningful!
Katie Strang (1:08 PM)
I keep waiting for the Avs to come back to earth, and they haven't. Maybe it's time to accept that this team is for real and Patrick Roy is behind one of the most dramatic turnarounds in recent history. Kudos. They've been a blast to watch
Mike (Oak Lawn)
Which team's goaltending is its biggest asset going into the playoffs? Which team's is a huge liability?
Katie Strang (1:10 PM)
In terms of liability: I'm still not sold on Fleury, Mason or Brygalov. Depending on Ben Bishop situation, Tampa Bay a team to keep an eye on as well. Teams that I like because of goaltending strength: Rangers, Bruins, Avalanche, Kings
Nix (Geneva, NY)
Do you know who's getting the start in Montreal, Henrik or Cam? I don't like the idea of taking games off at the end of a season so I'd prefer to see Lundqvist. I wouldn't mind seeing McDonough, either. What do you think?
Katie Strang (1:12 PM)
I think the Rangers will go with Talbot. Give Lundqvist some rest before the playoffs begin and some mental relief given the house of horrors Montreal has been for The King in recent years. Talbot earned a shutout in his last trip to Bell Centre. I like the idea of putting him between the pipes
Who will have the bigger impact on their team in the playoffs, Callahan or St Louis?
Katie Strang (1:13 PM)
At this point, Callahan. But I'm basing that on how he's played since the trade vs. St. Louis. Pure gut feeling, I think MSL is gonna have a huge first-round series. He's built for playoff hockey
Do the Lightning have a chance to beat Montreal if Ben Bishop cannot play which is sounding more and more likely?
Katie Strang (1:14 PM)
It's obviously not an ideal situation, but Anders Lindback sure was impressive last night, huh? Sure seems like he is intent to prove that he is up for the challenge
After last night's loss, are the Coyotes done? Yes, the Stars have to play a tough Blues team but the Coyotes have to play an equally tough Sharks team. SURELY the Stars can't blow this one...
Katie Strang (1:15 PM)
Putting my money on Dallas...
18,118 Kings fans (Los Angeles)
If Kopitar doesn't get nominated for the Selke, I'm blaming you! You didn't not mention him in your top 3, and I am assuming you didn't vote for him, becasue he plays after your bed time... so my question is, do you own a DVR?
Katie Strang (1:16 PM)
Actually, I don't and that is indeed a bit embarrassing to admit. I also do not trust my ability to use one. Not the most tech-savvy. But I am a night owl, and I have GameCenter Live, so I assure you I have gotten plenty of chances to watch the LAK
Jesse S. (Carmel, NY)
Katie, if you bought the Islanders and assumed total control of the franchise, what would be the first move(s) you made. Fire Snow? Fire Capuano? Replace them with whom? Trade for Reimer? Trade Tavares for a massive return (gasp)? Negotiate an out-clause to move to Brooklyn next year? Or do something completely idiotic like change the team name, colors, or logo? Hopefully you are marrying into money to make this happen. Or you could just write Wang a check for $17 dollars and say I don't know what happened to the six other zeroes, the printer must have cut them off.....
Katie Strang (1:19 PM)
For one, I'd assume total ownership to ensure full autonomy from Wang, who I believe to be interested in retaining a stake in the team. I'd replace both Snow and Capuano. If Bylsma, Trotz or DeBoer become available this summer, I'd go after them hard. A ton of great GM candidates. Paul Fenton comes to mind, just because he has experience dealing with a shoestring budget. Of course, If I'm the owner team wouldn't have to operate under the same sort of budgetary constraints...
Katie Strang (1:20 PM)
And yes, I'd also sign or trade for a legit No. 1 starting goaltender
I have to give a shout out to Steven Stamkos, 35gms, 25g, 15a and he has played 18 of those games on less then healthy leg. He is to me the favorite for the Bill Masterton Memorial award. What do you think of his play heading into the playoffs for the Lightning?
Katie Strang (1:21 PM)
Disagree on Masterton. Josh Harding, Dominic Moore both highly deserving candidates in my opinion
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
How Far do you think that the Rangers will go in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
Katie Strang (1:21 PM)
I think they will lose in the second round
Bill (St Louis)
Who wins the Central Avs or Blues? Also does the loser even make it out of the first round against the Blackhawks?
Katie Strang (1:22 PM)
I think the Avs are gonna wrap up the Central Division title, but I don't like that match-up for either them or the Blues. Blackhawks in 6 games
Do the Rangers matchup better with Columbus or Philly?
Katie Strang (1:23 PM)
Asked a scout this very question last night. He said the Rangers will have an easier time to Columbus. I actually disagree. But either series would be incredible from a storylines/entertainment angle
JA (St. Louis)
Blues without Backes, Oshie, Tarasenko, Sabotka, Morrow, & Roy...enough said. Only 1 could potentially play on Sunday. Another extremely disappointing ending to a Blues season. Never seen anything like this.
Katie Strang (1:25 PM)
They are in one serious funk right now and their injuries are not helping matters. Big game for them tonight. Need to head into the playoffs feeling good about themselves and they are definitely not feeling that right now
Greg (Norwalk, CT)
Who was the bigger disappointment Toronto, Ottawa or Washington?
Katie Strang (1:27 PM)
On a large scale, I'd say Ottawa. But in the more immediate sense, Toronto by a wide margin. The Sens were thoroughly disappointing all year long, while the Maple Leads just downright imploded. Have a good feeling about the Shanahan hiring, though. Very interested to see if these DeBoer rumors have legs. I think he could do that team a world of good
Greg (Norwalk, CT)
Will Torts be fired and if so will he ever get another head coaching job in the NHL?
Katie Strang (1:28 PM)
I think he will be let go after the season ends. And I still think he can coach again in the NHL, but not right away. In fact, I think that was a mistake he jumped back in so soon. I totally assumed he would've taken some time off. I think he should have
ryan (st. louis)
Your opinion on the Oshie hit last night?
Katie Strang (1:28 PM)
Like Mike Rupp a ton as a person and I respect him as a player, but definitely think he will be getting a suspension for that one
I just want to say, on behalf of Leaf fans everywhere, that at least we had more than 10 minutes to learn to cope with the collapse this year. Much easier on the nerves. My question - was this a one year blip in the development of a young team, or a sign that the plan has gone off the rails?
Katie Strang (1:29 PM)
I don't think it's a blip. I think there are some macro-level, structural, systematic failings. Shanahan will help at the management level, but I think Carlyle has to go as well. Or at least adopt a new way of playing
With the Isles moving to Brooklyn, do you see the franchise trying to make a marketing move like Moving Tavares for Alexander Ovechkin?
Katie Strang (1:31 PM)
No. There's no way the Islanders want to move John Tavares. If anything, they need to surround him with better players. That's how they should try to capitalize on the move to Brooklyn.
Kopitar is better offensively (numbers dont lie) and defensively (numbers dont lie) than Bergeron. The only thing Bergeron is better at is faceoff wins %. How Kopitar doesn't win it let alone get in your top 3 is quite confusing.
Katie Strang (1:33 PM)
I have not made my end-of-year awards voting yet. I will re-evaluate soon and take all of your Kopitar points to heart, I promise!
Hi, Katie, who is your most entertaining player to interview? I.e, someone who doesn't give you the formulaic 'we gotta get pucks to the net' answer...
Katie Strang (1:34 PM)
Sean Avery was one, though he's no longer around. Brent Burns is a good talker. But Jaromir Jagr probably tops everyone. Entertaining, insightful, articulate and funny as hell.
Do you think Kreider will play again for the Rangers this season, and do you think they actually need him?
Katie Strang (1:35 PM)
They definitely need him. They miss his size and speed and skill already. I think he will be available by the second round if the Rangers make it that far
Kent, Sweden [via mobile]
Trade ovechkin or just take the c? How can he justify his overall play and have 50 goals and be -33, i would be embarrassed, he just shruggs it off.
Katie Strang (1:35 PM)
Has there ever been a player more roundly criticized during a 50-goal season?
How good do you think the CBJ will be in 3 years? Besides Dubi, all their best players are under 25.
Katie Strang (1:36 PM)
Especially with John Davidson and Jarmo Kekkalainen at the helm? Pretty damn good.
Did you get mugged in Philly or something? You had them as an awful team from the preseason and have kept it going all year, even as they have turned it around dramtically. Be a little impartial.
Katie Strang (1:39 PM)
Ha no. In fact, I love Philly. Sarcone's, Las Vegas Lounge and any sort of late-night cheesesteak stop combine to make it one of my favorite NHL cities. Winter Classic there was my favorite sporting event I ever covered. I definitely doubted the Flyers after a rough start to the season. And I think they have done a tremendous job in turning it around. I'm just not sold on them going deep. I think their forward depth is outstanding, but I have my doubts about both their defense and goaltending. Feel free to disagree.
Detroit is going to give Boston all they can handle, I know that. But how scared should B's fans be?
Katie Strang (1:40 PM)
I still think Bruins dispatch any team handily at this point, but no one wants to face the Wings in the first round, especially as they start to get healthy. They have best upset potential in my opinions. Can definitely see them surprising the Pens in the first round
How come player and coach interviews don't involve more hockey talk about systems and plays? NHL fans are more sophisticated than we are given credit for.
Katie Strang (1:41 PM)
I agree. I think NHL fans are more knowledgeable from an X's and O's standpoint than any other sports fan base
Is there a team that will take Brodeur on next season? Does he get one final home game on Sunday since it's a meaningless game?
Katie Strang (1:43 PM)
Yes, and Yes if I had to bet. Though I don't see a team signing Brodeur as a No. 1 guy. More fitting to have him in a backup role or as injury replacement. Whether Brodeur is willing to split time elsewhere or take on a backup role will likely determine his list of landing spots
Fantastic what Babcock has accomplished with so many injuries...but it has to count for something that Patrick Roy has 20 more points and plenty walking wounded all year of his own right? Could you see Babs winning the Jack Adams as a lifetime achievement award though?
Katie Strang (1:44 PM)
They are both great, and deserving candidates. But I still give Roy the edge.
Fair enough, good response, and yes the Las Vegas lounge is awesome haha
Katie Strang (1:44 PM)
There used to be a bartender there named Kris and she was incredible. A big fan favorite with all us NHL writers. Viva LVL!
If this Penguins bow out early this year, do you make a coaching change?
Katie Strang (1:45 PM)
I'd think they have to, yes. Not necessarily Bylsma's fault, but they may need a fresh voice. He wouldn't be out of a job long, though.
Hi Katie, sorry about the Spartans. Which impresses you more Benoit Poulioit turning his season around or an NHL coach having that much patience with a struggling player?
Katie Strang (1:47 PM)
Thanks CJ. Both, actually. I totally did not think Vigneault had a lot of time for Pouliot (Remember the "to the moon" comments?) but credit both men for sticking to it. He's been an extremely productive and effective player for the Rangers. Currently riding a seven-game point streak into the final regular-season match.
Hi Katie, I am a long time devils fan. This season has been a bit of a disappointment because of the numerous opportunities the devils had earn points. In my opinion, our defense is poor to say the least. After watching most of the 80 games played so far turn overs in the defensive end have let to so many losses. With that said, why is Bryce Salvador the captain? He play is well below average at best and this defensive unit lacks leadership and consistent play from its veterans. His 7 million dollar contract was a mistake the last two years he has not played well at all.
Katie Strang (1:49 PM)
I can't imagine a Devils' fan's frustration right now, but I'm surprised that your ire is directed at the D and not the baffling shootout ineptitude or lack of goal-scoring. These have to be most immediate issues confronting Lamoriello moving forward. And I've been saying this for a long time, but I like Andy Greene as captain of that team.
I read your article last night and am wondering how you can consider the Rangers to have "backed into the postseason". Does winning 25 games on the road, giving up the 4th fewest goals in the league, and having the 6th most ROW in the league not count for anything? Being a little harsh on the team you cover it seems to me.
Katie Strang (1:50 PM)
Those are all legitimate accomplishments Josh. I was referring to the fashion in which they "clinched" which was indirect.
Even as a Sharks STH, I would vote Kopitar for Selke. Still mad Wilson passed over him to take Setoguchi - whoops...
Katie Strang (1:51 PM)
Lotts Kopitar love here. Ok, Ok, I got it!
Katie Strang (1:51 PM)
Ok all, we will end there for today. Have a great weekend and can't wait to see you all when the playoffs begin!