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!
william culpeper va
Will Columbus be the odd team out of the playoffs?
E.J. Hradek (3:02 PM)
I don't know that we can say that yet. It seems like there's eight teams playing for four spots in the West, but I think Columbus will go as far as Steve Mason will take them, and he's been pretty good so far.
Jon (Boston, MA)
As a Penguins fan, I've been against the crowd calling to fire Therrien...until now. Their third leading scorer (Sykora) is getting diminished ice time, and you have a guy like Goligoski out performing the majority of the other dmen, but he's been a healthy scratch. What is going on in Pittsburgh? How can you expect to make the playoffs when you're giving your top performers less time.
E.J. Hradek (3:05 PM)
I think there's a lot of things in play with the Penguins this season. Obviously, they really miss Gonchar. He's been out all season after having shoulder surgery. They are hoping to get him back sometime in March. It's hard to replace an important player like that. They couldn't find a way to replace Malone and Hossa. As far as Therrien, I think he's done OK, especially under the circumstances. This is a guy who went to the Finals not even a year ago. He's been facing some different challenges this year, and it's not the same group with whom he finished last year. A lot of it will have to do with the diminished level of personnel this year.
Matt - Livingston Manor, NY
Do you think New Jersey is the favorite to win the East? They are one of the most prolific scoring teams and have a good defense, which we only be helped by Mr. Brodeur...
E.J. Hradek (3:07 PM)
I don't know if I would say they are THE favorite. They have been a great story this year. They've been able to find a way to prosper after losing Martin Brodeur. It kind of reminds me of what happened in the NFL with the Patriots when Tom Brady went out. The Devils seem like a team gaining confidence every day. They will be a team to deal with in the East. That said, I look at it and I have to like Boston and Washington. I'm interested to see what the matchups will be come playoff time. The Devils will be a handful.
Robert (Miami, FL)
what do you think about the Panthers chances of making the postseason this year
E.J. Hradek (3:09 PM)
They're playing well. They have a good group of defensemen, some young forwards who are contributing. Their rookie coach has done a good job. They will be in a fight for one of those last few spots in the East. It will be nice to see them make it, as they have not been since 2000. It seems like they will make a serious run down the stretch. Their chances are as good as anyone else's.
Why are the Bruins management going to mess with the chemistry they have right now to bring in a left-handed shot? Who would they have to give up for Tkachuk? This team can win it all with what they have now.
E.J. Hradek (3:11 PM)
There's no guarantee that they will do anything. They see a great opportunity with the team playing so well, and they are probably thinking of ways to supplement and add to their group. You have to give them a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, as they have made good decisions over the past few years. They have been one of the great stories in the league this year. They are unexpectedly dominant, led on defense by Chara, who changes games with his presence. Management will, I think, look to add depth without taking away the key members of the team.
Do you consider it a big deal that Milan Lucic turned down a fight with Georges Laraque?
E.J. Hradek (3:13 PM)
I don't consider it a big deal. Milan Lucic is a top-6 forward and has certain responsibilities. If he fights, he will fight someone who is an asset to the other team. It might be entertaining to the fans, but it's not a great tradeoff. To me, it's not an issue.
Christian (New York)
Do you think the Stars might make a move to get them over the top for a playoff spot? Maybe not a big move, but just some depth piecies?
E.J. Hradek (3:14 PM)
I have to give the Stars a lot of credit. After a really bad start, they've moved back into a playoff spot. They do have some cap rules because they have a couple of expensive players, namely Morrow and Zubov, on long-term injury. That will give them the cap flexibility to make an addition. They probably will look to fortify their lineup if the right deal comes home.
Any thoughts on Adam Graves the player and/or the person?
E.J. Hradek (3:15 PM)
To my knowledge, he's a terrific person. Goes above and beyond when it comes to charitable work. In his prime, a real top talented winger. I wish Adam all the best. The Rangers are retiring his number this evening at MSG.
Oveckin is the man -- but Theodore couldn't stop a beach-ball, and the Devils have a very good offense as well -- what makes Washington better?
E.J. Hradek (3:17 PM)
I don't know that he couldn't stop a beach ball. I mean, those are pretty big. I just think Washington has a lot of highly-skilled guys who don't need much opportunity to score. When guys are healthy there, they can put you on the defense with their skating ability and skill. Let's face it---you look at the standings and there is not much difference between the two teams. In a game like that, it would probably be decided by which team can impose its will and system on the other team. I'm looking forward to watching both teams play.
Nick (Syracuse, NY)
Has Ovechkin passed Crosby far and away as the best player in the leauge yet?
E.J. Hradek (3:19 PM)
I think most people feel that way right now. Alex has been a dynamic forward. I get the impression, talking to fans, that the consensus is Ovechkin is the guy right now. They tend to run in cycles. I obviously wouldn't mind having either guy on my team.
Christian (New York)
What are your thoughts on what's been going on with the Senators lately? Do they completely rebuild or just add piecies around the big three?
E.J. Hradek (3:21 PM)
I think the Senators have just gone backwards in so many different ways in the past 12 months. They're getting almost no contributions from any other forward except their big three. They finally need to retool their defense to make it quicker. They may need some secondary forwards who can help push forward in games. They don't get enough production from anywhere outside the big Three. They may have to start over.
Matt New York
Hey EJ, recently on a Rangers blog there was a huge blow up over Renney's coaching. The two ends of the camp are basically that Renney is a terrible coach with a team that's severely underachieving, with the other side saying that Renney is doing the best he can with 3rd and 4th liners (Voros, Dawes, Callahan, etc) masquerading as 1st and 2nd liners and only one legit D in Staal. I personally feel the truth is somewhere in between, but I'm curious what the consensus on the Rangers is outside of NY?
E.J. Hradek (3:24 PM)
I think this is a team that puts a lot of pressure on goal because it doesn't score a lot. They are not built well on the ice or with their salary structure. I would say a large number of their players are overpaid. I like Renney and his staff--they do a lot of good things, but I don't know if they are hard on all their players the same all the time. I think guys get singled out. I'm not in the room on a day-to-day basis, so its hard to figure t it out. But I don't think Renney is blessed with a great roster.
Any thoughts of the Sharks makin a move before the deadline? Maybe package a player like Cheechoo who's ice time has been replaced (now on the 3rd line) by Setoguchi (who's on the 1st line) and a draft pick for another scorer?
E.J. Hradek (3:26 PM)
I think the Sharks are pretty comfortable. I don't think they would make a major move like that right now, based on how they have played. If anything, the Sharks will be looking to add experienced depth guys, guys who have made deep playoff runs in the past, who might be able to help in a secondary role. I t doesn't fit their M.O., for them to, at this point, throw away the guys whom you mentioned.
Is there any chance at this point that we see Detroit make a move for goal tending? We have some talented assets outside of Nick, Rafalksi, Pavel, Hank and Hossa.
E.J. Hradek (3:28 PM)
I think there's probably a little bit of concern within the Red Wings group, about their goaltending, with Osgood and Conklin. I think there is probably also concern that they haven't played consistently in front. I don't think the Red Wings do any deal that they don't think will give them advantage during the playoffs. That's what it is about for them: trying to win. I think they will be watching their guys pretty closely between now and the March deadline, investigating which guys will be available.
E.J. Hradek (3:28 PM)
Thanks for all the questions, and see you next week!