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)
We're getting EJ right now!
Buzzmaster (3:21 PM)
Hang in there folks, we're still looking for EJ.
Buzzmaster (3:23 PM)
We've got EJ!
Matt (Albany, NY)
Will the Flyers goaltending last them through the playoffs again or was Biron's performance last year a fluke?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
I think that they have to be pretty happy with the way Biron played last year. But I would think it's still a concern, only because he or his backup haven't done it before -- haven't won the Cup yet. Until a goaltender does do that or has a long string of success in that role as a starter, I guess there will be that doubt. That's something to build on.
Michael Bellingham Washington
Mats Sundin is bringing us the cup! I can't believe you thought he would go to New York.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
But I would wait to make sure he gets on the ice. 37-year-old player has to be very careful. If Mats were to rush himself into the lineup, he could end up suffering some sort of injury that would hold him back. I think it will take time for him to find his game and find his slot within the group in Vancouver. If he can come in an stay healthy, I think that certainly the Canucks have a better chance now.
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
But, like most teams, a lot will depend on injuries. And the Canucks over the last few years have had the wrong guys hurt at key times.
Pierce (Maple Shade, NJ)
Hey EJ, What's the latest with Shannahan now that the whole Sundin saga is over? Have the Devils made any contact with him? He's said he prefers to be closer to his home, and he was a Devil at the beginning of his career. Is there any chance we get him?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I haven't heard anything on Shanahan of late. To my knowledge the Devils have made no contact with them. I don't think they were ever seriously considering signing him. I think Shannahan's heart has always been in New York. To this point, the Rangers haven't been interested. I guess we'll see after the holiday if there's any renewed interest. As of right now, it's been quiet.
Christian (New York)
Could the Blackhawks be considered serious Stanley Cup contenders?
EJ Hradek (3:29 PM)
I think you have to consider them that way more and more each day, if they continue to perform the way they have. Right now, they're playing really well and they're doing all the things you need to do to be a team that can win the Stanley Cup. But I think a team like Chicago, a young team, we have to see it over a long period of time over the season. I think they'll face a different challenge come playoff time, where they haven't had that experience before.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Right now, though, they're playing some great hockey.
Anthony (Rockville, MD)
If you see Santa, tell him I want a healthy capitals team for christmas, and a solution to the goaltending issue.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
I'll pass along that message as I often see Santa this time of year. Being that hockey is a cold weather game, Santa is a big fan. The Caps have had a number of injuries. For their sake, they better hope that they can keep those guys healthy. The goaltending situation is something that we'll have to keep a close eye on throughout the year. But there's no question about one thing, they are a fun team to watch. They'll be a dangerous team if they can stay healthy and get that goaltending they're looking for.
Eric (New York, NY)
Can we hire a Vice President of Common Sense for Glen Sather? He is clueless.
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
Well, all I can say in Glen's defense is that he has won a handful of Stanley Cups in a long and very honored career. I think his tenure in New York hasn't been everything that he's wanted, I'm sure, but after a very slow start, the Rangers are a much more competitive team now. I'll be interested to see what Glen decides to do in the coming years and how long he wants to stay on the job.
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
He's not doing it for the money at this point in his career, I don't think.
Erick from Long Island
EJ, why isn't the sidney crosby cheap shots on the atlanta thrashers' boris valabik not getting any more attention? letang was holding valabik down as crosby threw punch after punch at the back of his head. A fine maybe? 1 game suspension at most? he only got a minor! i see superstar favortism because if anyone else had done this im sure we'll hear more from the league.
EJ Hradek (3:34 PM)
I didn't see that whole sequence in context, which means I only saw the highlight at the end of the incident. But what I saw wasn't great, in terms of Crosby's behavior in that incident. But I don't believe he has any long track record of that behavior, so I'd really have to see the whole incident play out to see if there were any other mitigating circumstances that pushed him into that situation.
If the award was given out today, would Ducan Kieth win the Norris Trophy? Does everyone in the league realize how good he is?
EJ Hradek (3:36 PM)
I think that Duncan Kieth is getting more attention. He had a terrific year last year and he's again being quietly strong this year. He's led the Blackhawks in minutes in each of the last three years. He's a real helpful player for them. I don't know if he's a frontrunning Norris candidate now, but his name is certainly one that merits consideration.
Are the Coyotes for real? Sure they lost to Edmonton last night but they did play their backup and Mueller was out with a bum leg. How do you see the last 2 in and the last 2 out in the west?
EJ Hradek (3:38 PM)
I think the Coyotes are a rebuilding team. They've been on the right track for more than a year now. They're very young. I think that they are kind of where I thought they would be right now, a team that's battling for one of the bottom playoff spots in the West. I don't know if they're going to have enough to get there over the course of a season, but they've been competitive. I think the key will be if they can play a little bit better on the road. They finish the season with a good home schedule. But their road record hasn't been very good, and if that doesn't improve, they probably won't make the playoffs. All that said, I do like the direction they're headed on the ice. They just have to be patient.
Mark (Minneapolis, MN)
What is your take on the Gaborik/Kovalchuk rumors?
EJ Hradek (3:40 PM)
They don't add up to me. Because for Atlanta to get Gaborik, they'd want to have him signed. I just don't think Gaborik wants to sign in Atlanta. To make a trade without the ability to sign Gaborik, would really be foolish. I guess for me, it just doesn't make sense.
Pat (Voorhees, Nj)
After watching various games the season, how do you feel about the inconsistency of the boarding calls going around?
EJ Hradek (3:41 PM)
Well, it wouldn't be an NHL season if we didn't spend time talking about the officials. I think on a night to night basis, the guys do a pretty good job. There's always going to be missed calls or bad calls. But on the whole, when I compare it to what goes on in the NFL, I think these guys do a wonderful job. I think the officiating in this league is far better then what happens in the NFL and as good as we see in any other sport.
Do you think the Red Wings are finally getting their hunger back after the win over the Sharks?
EJ Hradek (3:44 PM)
I think that kind of game is one that certainly gets the Wings attention. It was a measuring stick kind of game and they certainly rose to that challenge. I think this is why it's so hard for teams to repeat, because it's just so hard to have that same intensity level in that following season after winning. But the Wings, despite some uncharacteristically sloppy play, still have a terrific record and still stand up at the top of the conference. I suspect come playoff time, they're not going to be a team that people are going to want to play. I think they'll have every opportunity to win another Cup. The one issue going forward is probably getting more consistent goaltending. Last year, in the playoffs Chris Osgood stepped up and was terrific. We'll have to see if he or Ty Conklin can do that this time.
Justin (Riverside, CA)
With Teemu Selanne being hurt for the next 4 weeks, and an obvious hole on that second line, what is the chance the Ducks go after Brendan Shanahan?
EJ Hradek (3:45 PM)
I think they might make a phone call, but Brendan, according to people around him, his desire has been to stay close to home in the New York/Northeast area. That would certainly mean that he would have to change his feeling about that.
Alex (Boston, MA)
Do you think the Bruins will start to slide if Patrice is out with another concussion for a long period of time?
EJ Hradek (3:46 PM)
I don't think the team will benefit from losing Bergeron if he's out for any length of time. But this has been a group that's gotten contributions from a lot of different players and has proven to be a resilient group so far. I expect them to continue to push forward. They've been a great story through the first months of the season. I'm looking forward to seeing them play the Devils in Newark.
What are the chances that the Hurricanes can sneak into the playoffs?
EJ Hradek (3:47 PM)
I think they have a shot. They're another team that's a bubble team that's battling for one of the bottom playoff spots in the conference. They've got some good players there and the benefit from having some championship experience with a lot of those guys. I think they'll be in the mix right to the end.
EJ, Devils or Bruins tonight...who wins?
EJ Hradek (3:48 PM)
That's a good question. Both teams are playing great right now. I'm going to lean to the home team, because they've had the easier schedule in the past couple of days. They've been home and should be ready to go tonight. I expect it should be a terrific game with two teams that have their eye on big things in the spring.
After all the efforts by the NHL to increase scoring, why are coaches still pulling netminders after 3 goals. Shouldn't they start getting used to high GAAs?
EJ Hradek (3:50 PM)
I think the goaltending has become so good in the NHL that there's a real high standard now. It's much different from previous generations. I think while we might be seeing a little more offense, I don't think we've returned to the 80's yet. Each case is different, but when teams fall behind 3 or more goals early in the game, they're looking to change the momentum with a goaltending switch. That probably has more to do with it than anything else.
Who will go down in history as the sweetest swede: Sundin, Forsberg, Lidstrom, or Salming?
EJ Hradek (3:52 PM)
Boy that's a good question. All of them great players. I'll give you two answers here. I think the longevity of Nick LIdstrom's career, his ability to be so good at his position for so long, be part of four Stanley Cup teams during his career, makes him stand out to me. But, I'll also add that Peter Forsberg has been a lion of a competitor and he's been a guy I think has changed the perception of the Swedish hockey player during his career. In Sweden, he might be the most beloved of that group, but that's really only speculation on my part. But all four are certainly special players.
Legend (Staten Island)
With points in their last 3 games, are the Stars getting somewhat close to turning the corner?
EJ Hradek (3:54 PM)
Well, right now, I think everything is baby steps for the Stars after a disasterous first part of the season. But I think all teams when you start to get points, whether for wins or OT loses, that's helpful to pushing up the standings. But I think Dallas, with all of the injury concerns, they'll be hard pressed to make the playoffs this year. I think it's going to be a very tough road between now and then.
Santa (Santa's Village, North Pole)
EJ what does a hockey analyst want for Christmas?
EJ Hradek (3:55 PM)
I'll just say this -- I want really good weather for the Winter Classic on Jan. 1. By that I mean, 25 degrees with maybe a light flurry in the air. I'd love to see a good weather day for that game, which has quickly become a big part of the NHL season.
Do you think the Panthers will move Jay Bouwmeester by the trade deadline? And if they do what teams would they look to trade with?
EJ Hradek (3:56 PM)
I do think so. They have been playing better lately. Maybe that would make Jay take another look at maybe staying and signing a long term contract. But I get the sense that he wants a change. That means the Panthers would be wise to trade him before he could leave via free agency and they would get nothing in return.
Max (Vienna, Austria)
Your thoughts on our boy Vanek?
EJ Hradek (3:57 PM)
Well, he's having a great season. He's doing things that you expect him to do, which is score a lot of goals. He's a great young player and he has a real nack to score. He's an exciting guy to have on your team and he's living up to expectations.
What team has surprised you the most this year.
EJ Hradek (3:58 PM)
I think that Boston being so good so far has been the biggest surprise on the positive side of things. They had a good team last year, but the kind of growth they've had this season is surprising. They've had a lot of contributions from a lot of people and they look like the real deal. They've been a big surprise and a great surprise for Bruins fans.
al - ontario, canada
how has van riemsdyk played in college since the flyers drafted him?
EJ Hradek (3:59 PM)
I think he's progressing. Right now he's part of Team USA's effort at the World Junior Championship which begin in a few days in Ottawa. If you have NHL Network, you can watch those games. I think he is progressing and like most young guys, he is maturing on pace right now.
EJ Hradek (4:00 PM)
Thanks again for all the great questions. I hope everyone has a great holiday. We'll do this next week.