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October 2, 2:00 PM ET
Chat with Katie Strang

Katie Strang
  (2:00 PM)

Hey everyone! Happy opening week! Plenty to talk about already. Fire away!

Rich (New Jersey)

Hi, Chicago and Boston last year Stanley Cup finalist, will either team return in 2014 or who'll we see two different teams this year in the Finals & who do you see there?

Katie Strang
  (2:02 PM)

Hey Rich- I picked the San Jose Sharks over the Boston Bruins. Feel like this is finally the Sharks year with their blend of experienced vets, talented youngsters and strong goaltending. I do think Chicago will be a tough out, though. If any team in recent years has a good chance to repeat, I think it's the Blackhawks.

michael (brooklyn)

Any islanders poised for a break out year?

Katie Strang
  (2:04 PM)

A few candidates, to be sure. I could see Matt Moulson with another really strong campaign, especially considering it is his contract year. I'll also be watching to see if Kyle Okposo and Josh Bailey can build off of the success they had in the latter portion of last season. Really interested to see what sort of impact Brock Nelson will have as well. He's put in a lot of time to take his game to the next level and I think he could be one skilled youngster that could surprise some people

Pete (NJ)

Why is everyone so down on the Devils? Ryder and Jagr last year had more goals combined that Clarkson and Kovy, add in Clowe and Brunner and its the most balanced their offense has been in years.

Katie Strang
  (2:07 PM)

I actually agree that their depth is a definite strength, however, you can't take away two players like Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in consecutive off-seasons and not feel that like a brutal kick to the shins. Durability will be an issue with Jagr, that we've already seen. Clowe is also a question mark, given his concussion history just last season. I do suspect Cory Schneider will have a fantastic season, though. Goaltending will also be an asset

Katie Strang
  (2:07 PM)

I actually agree that their depth is a definite strength, however, you can't take away two players like Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in consecutive off-seasons and not feel that like a brutal kick to the shins. Durability will be an issue with Jagr, that we've already seen. Clowe is also a question mark, given his concussion history just last season. I do suspect Cory Schneider will have a fantastic season, though. Goaltending will also be an asset

Jeremy (NJ)

If you were the Rangers GM, at what point would you decide to walk away from a Lundqvist contract? He's the King, but is getting older and a 5+ year deal is risky. Are there any rumors as to what he's looking for?

Katie Strang
  (2:09 PM)

You don't. His consistency is pretty mind-boggling. He's been the best player on the team for years and there is nothing to suggest that won't continue. He's still early thirties with very few injuries, despite a pretty heavy workload. You can expect him to seek a max contract of eight years. And if you look at what some elite players have signed for since the new CBA -- Malkin, Giroux, most recently Kessel -- the $8m/yr range seems pretty standard.

Rush (NYC)

Rank the three factors from most to least likely to cause a death in an NHL game: puck, stick, check or fight.

Katie Strang
  (2:11 PM)

Ugh, that's morbid. I feel like a creep to choose among those things but I will say this. I have always embraced fighting and respected its role in the game, but I'm souring on it pretty quickly these days. It doesn't seem to serve a purpose and I just can't justify the damage it seems to cause. Seeing what happened to George Parros -- a bright, well-respect player who I like a lot -- was sickening. I want his Princeton-educated brain protected

Johnny (New York)

Any news on Travis Hamonic's injury- was it a concussion & will he back soon?

Katie Strang
  (2:13 PM)

I think any time a player is shaken up after a hit and the team employs is furtive with the injury, you can pretty much assume its a concussion. I believe he practiced yesterday in a non-contact jersey so it's possible he plays vs. NJ on Friday but I sure hope the Isles exercise caution with him. He's a terrific young defenseman that can anchor their blue line for years to come

JP (Babylon, NY)

Hi Katie! Happy Hockey Season!! What were your thoughts on the hybrid icing rule based on last night's games? Also, do you think the relatively high scoring last night is a direct result of the smaller goalie equipment?

Katie Strang
  (2:16 PM)

I don't really like it. I say just go all the way and do no-touch icing, but hockey purists still seem pretty hell-bent against it. There has definitely been some griping about the hybrid icing as well, enough so that I was surprised when it was passed by the NHLPA. And no, I think it's still too small a sample size to draw any correlation between smaller goalie equipment and scoring, but I'm sure there will be some five-hole goals scored that bring up some issues among netminders

Adam (NYC)

Katie - why dont you cover the Islanders anymore even though you work for ESPN NY and should be covering all NY Hockey teams?

Katie Strang
  (2:18 PM)

I use to cover the Islanders and the Islanders alone full-time for Newsday when I first started. My role now is to cover NY hockey with the primary focus being the Rangers. It's an editorial decision. Way above my pay grade :)

Dara (Boca Raton, Fl)

What do you think the new ownership will bring to the Florida Panthers and how do you rate all their pickups in the last week?

Katie Strang
  (2:20 PM)

Financial stability definitely helps and if it allows General Manager Dale Tallon to spend more liberally, that can't hurt. I actually think the acquisition of Thomas was a shrewd one, as he will push Markstrom and probable mentor him as well. I'm not as sold on the Whitney signing

Kelly (California)

Pittsburg is loaded up front but with Vokoun recovering from surgery and Fleury being Fleury, what moves if any do you see the team making to patchup their situation in goal?

Katie Strang
  (2:21 PM)

You heard it from Ray Shero today. They don't really have the cap space that allows them that maneuverability. Man, that is one daunting prospect to have all that pressure on Fleury considering what happened last year.

Lou (Philly)

Cory or Marty, who plays more?

Katie Strang
  (2:22 PM)

I firmly believe Cory Schneider

Matt (Philly)

Remember that time you got really high and picked the Flyers 7th in the Metro?

Katie Strang
  (2:22 PM)

And to think, I thought I was being generous.

Kelly (California)

Mikael Grabovski looked pretty good out there last night. He obviously wont be able to keep up that kind of scoring pace, but how good do you think he'll be this season?

Katie Strang
  (2:24 PM)

Saw an interesting stat this morning: his fantasy ownership raised 15% after last night's performance in which he netted a hat trick for his new club. No, he can't sustain that production, but he definitely seems to have embraced the change in scenery and with increased PP time, he could be a very shrewd replacement for Mike Ribeiro

Nick (Detroit)

The red wings are young and fresh with some veteran players on the top two lines what do you expect coming from them going into this new season? Especially being in a new conference having to play teams like Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, and the New York Rangers all the time.

Katie Strang
  (2:27 PM)

I'm pretty pumped that they are in the East, since I'll get to see a lot more of them. They are a tremendous franchise with a winning tradition and high expectations heading into this season. Wouldn't be surprised to see a monster year from Jimmy Howard, especially considering he will be a challenger to Buffalo's Ryan Miller for a goaltending spot on US Olympic team. Obviously very intrigued to see how Alffredsson fits in there as well.

John (Tampa)

Marty St Louis is the new captain of the Lightning. Is there any other players out there who finally deserve to be a Captain for their team? I am sort of against the new youth movement for captains.

Katie Strang
  (2:29 PM)

Nothing against Steven Stamkos, who is a terrific player, outstanding person and a shoe-in for Lightning captain down the road, but I tend to agree with you, John. No one can rival St. Louis' leadership by example; he's renowned as one of the hardest workers in the league and a true ironman. Stamkos will have his time. I like that they passed the torch to St. Louis for now

JP (Babylon, NY)

What are your thoughts on Columbus this season? Do you see them taking a step forward or back from last season? And, just for fun, your prediction on the Isles Home Opener vs CBJ on Saturday?

Katie Strang
  (2:30 PM)

Oh, I definitely think they could be a sleeper team again this year, especially if Bobrovsky plays on par with his Vezina-Trophy winning performance last season. You definitely get the sense of the culture change with JD and Jarmo Kekkalainen at the helm and I think they may surprise some teams.

george (bx, ny)

With the rangers depth (or logjam) at center, do you think Richie in a bounce back season can be effective on the wing!? Also, do you think when cally and hags return to the lineup, could the rangers look to a trade to straighten out the lines (brian boyle??)

Katie Strang
  (2:32 PM)

We'll see. Doesn't hurt that he'll be playing with skill guys like Stepan and Nash. And yes, I think Brian Boyle could definitely be moved. Was surprised they didn't at the deadline last year, though not sure what they could have gotten as a return considering his struggles.

Riley (St Louis)

Can you see the blues goal tending return to being one of the league's best?

Katie Strang
  (2:33 PM)

Yes, definitely. Also think Ottawa, New Jersey, Anaheim will be strong between the pipes

Jared (Albany)

Katie, with the Rangers difficult start, is it reasonable to be thrilled with a 5-4 or 4-4-1 record on their beginning road trip? Also, what do they need to add to become cup contenders? Seems like secondary scoring is an issue, though Pouliot should help

Katie Strang
  (2:35 PM)

No, I think that's entirely reasonable. If the Rangers can manage to come home .500 after their nine-game road trip that will be a pretty good start. They certainly haven't looked real sharp in the preseason -- Lundqvist included -- so if they can find their game and pick up some road wins that will be huge.

Lane (NJ)

If Pierre Lebrun's dream came true, and the NHL banned fighting, how many seasons do you think would pass before it was brought back? Hockey is a niche sport with a niche following, the majority of which likes fights. What percentage of fans do you think would stop following hockey if fighting was removed? It's what makes hockey better than the other sports. There's instant accountability. There's no need to cry to the press after the fact. Give me a game like Montreal/Toronto last night, rather than the a lopsided Wings/Blackhawks playoff game last year, where the Wings go through the motions and refuse to show an ounce of physicality.

Katie Strang
  (2:38 PM)

I don't think you can ever completely eradicate fighting in hockey. It is, indeed, part of the culture. And I don't think the NHLPA would ever sign off on banning fighting. But I do get the sense that the general public opinion is shifting and I wouldn't be surprised to see harsher penalties dished out, especially if NHL lawyers pay attention to what's going on over in the NFL and realize the massive liability they might assume. I totally disagree that fans would tune out without fighting, though. It's not the only thing that makes the game special. Not even close

bob nj [via mobile]

hi katie with the rangers sending down krieder and mcilrath are they first round busts thoughts

Katie Strang
  (2:39 PM)

No. Still way too early to write them off. Look at former first-rounder Derick Brassard and how much his game has been revitalized since the trade. He's 25. Kreider and McIlrath need more time tell they're labeled as busts

Tony (Richmond, CA)

Will Ovechkin be able to take some of his individual success, and turn into some team success this season?

Katie Strang
  (2:41 PM)

Yup, I think the Capitals are going to have a really strong season this year. Wouldn't be surprised at all to see them challenge for Metropolitan Division title. Predicting MIke Green to have a big year and their PP to be pretty lethal

Jeremy (Springfield,Mo)

Which Arena do you enjoy going to the most, one that as soon as you walk in your just pumped for the game.

Katie Strang
  (2:42 PM)

There is nothing like a game at Montreal's Bell Centre. Any hockey fan should experience a Saturday night match there once in their lifetime

Katie Strang
  (2:42 PM)

Ok all, we're going to end there. Thanks for stopping by and for all the great questions. Enjoy the first weekend full of NHL hockey :)