Chat with EJ Hradek
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Send your questions now and join Hradek in The Show on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:00 PM)
EJ will be here soon!
raY GORDON reid madison wisconsin 53073
QUESTION TO EJ HRADEK AT 3.15 HI EJ CAPS OR RANGERS
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
Caps. They have had the better of the play for almost most of the series. It was poor goaltending to them and great goaltending by the Rangers that has it 3-3. I think the Caps are the favorites, but I think the Rangers have a punchers chance because of Lundqvist.
Dan (San Jose)
It's official. They are now known as the San Jose Paper Tigers. What a joke they are, huh?
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
I guess I am not as down on them as others. Yeah it is very disappointing. You win the Presidents Trophy and the talk all year is to succeed in the playoffs and it is very disappointing. I just do not think they are better than the Ducks right now. I just think Anaheim is better on paper right now. They just had the misfortune of facing a team that was coming into its own and had Stanley Cups experience. The Ducks have three first-ballot HOFamers on their team. I think SJ needs some changes. I think there are things that can be learned from this loss from the Sharks perspective.
Fair gauge for tonight's Cap.Rangers game...1st goal wins?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
No, I think that in the NHL that is a factor, but I think the key for the Rangers is trying to stay in the game as long as possible. I think they need to try and steal the game in the third. So I think it is important for the Rangers to score the first goal, but more importantly keep it close.
Hi EJ. Do you have a pick for Detroit-Anaheim? Seems that the Ducks are always a problem for the Red Wings.
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I will pick the Wings because I picked them at the start of the year to win it all and they are very skilled. But, boy, this is a really great series. A great contrast in styles with the Red Wings' skilled game and the Ducks' physical game. But both teams have elements of the others games. Detroit can be physical when needed and Anaheim has a lot of skill. This will be a real challenge for the Red Wings and this has the makings of a great series.
Kyle Frost Chapel Hill, NC
Prediction of Game 7 Hurricanes vs. Devils
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
Before the series started I picked the Canes, so I guess I will stay with them. But this one could go either way and I will give an edge to the Devils being on home ice, and the nature of the series has been teams trading wins.
How do you see the CHI-VAN series playing out? I'm a bit worried about my hawks.
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
You have a reason to be worried with Vancouver playing very well. They are very balanced and I just think the way the chips have fallen, Vancouver is in a great spot to be a darkhorse in the west and a team that could go all the way to the Stanley Cup final. I think the Hawks need to continue to have success on the power play and like all teams opening on the road, they want to get an early win. But I like Vancouver a lot in this series.
Did Tortarelli have a shot at being named coach after this year for the rangers, and did he blow his chance with his actions in Fridays game?
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
No, he did not have a shot, based on the 25 games or so. And even if he did, the voting takes place prior to the playoffs, so that would have had no impact.
Tom (River North)
EJ, isn't Anaheim's biggest issue going to be the amount of PPs they give up? Detroit has two great units and a number of guys that will give Hiller fits.
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
Yeah, I think that will be key. As you mentioned, the Wings have the best PP in the league and the Ducks are prone to giving up penalties. Anaheim will have to play on the line of being tough but not taking dumb penalties that really take away momentum from your team. Detroit has a very experienced group and a group that knows how to take advantage of those opportunities.
Joel (South Bend, IN)
After the Bhulin Wall's performance last night and throughout the playoffs so far, the Hawks are going to do whatever they need to keep him, right?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
Good question. They are in an interesting spot with Huet, who was signed to be the guy. Khabibulin has been critical to them. I think if they were to keep Khabibulin they would have to consider a buyout for Huet, which is an expensive move. I think there is a good chance Khabibulin will be available on the FA market, and maybe a team like the Flyers or the Caps will be interested.
Is this massive, massive break for the Bruins a bad thing? I can't decide. They must all be hurting at this point in the season, so I would imagine it's wonderful physically. Any thoughts?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
I think that is always the argument when teams have a long break in between series. Rest vs. rust. I think in this case the Bruins will be okay. They are well coached and went through an emotional series and a little downtime is not a bad thing. But it is hard to gage. I have seen teams lose that edge early in a series and by the time they rediscover it they are in a hole. I would be concerned but hopeful that the leadership and the coaching will keep them from being negatively effected by the time off.
So which team should Pittsburgh be rooting for to play next round, and which one do they want to stay away from?
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
I think all the teams left are dangerous. At this time of the year there are certainly favorable matchups, but the teams in the East are pretty even and I do not know that one team would be any better to face than another. I do think the Pens need to play better in this round. They really leaned on Fleury in the first round.
Jonathan: Raleigh, NC
EJ, do you think the Canes depth and speed are wearing down the Devils forwards?
EJ Hradek (3:33 PM)
I think in a seven game series both teams impact the other. Carolina wants to attack and NJ with their group on defense has a lot of average players, who can make mistakes when pressured and I think the game plan for the Canes to to apply pressure and get the puck in deep. Carolina does not have a dynamic group on defense either. You mention an important matchup. The key is which group of forwards can create more chaos and keep the pressure on.
Who is dealt: Marleau or Thornton or both?
EJ Hradek (3:36 PM)
Both guys,have no trade contracts, I believe, so that is the first issue. It is a tough question. They are two very good players, and if you trade one or both, how do you replace what they do. You are not going to get where you want to go by getting rid of those two and not having a plan. So who is next, if you want to get rid of them? That is the question for Doug Wilson. I think it is worth considering if you think you can change your team in a positive way. But it is a very tough call and I think you must way many factors.
When will the next rounds start, officially?
EJ Hradek (3:37 PM)
We know that the Wings and Anaheim will start Friday. I have not heard anything else of an official nature. I think a series in the East could start on Thursday, but I think we won;t have an official schedule until after the result of tonight's Game 7s in NJ and Washington.
Mike, Disney World
Which remaining team has impressed you the most from the opening series that you would favor as Cup contenders?
EJ Hradek (3:40 PM)
I think Anaheim has been such a force. This is a team that won the Cup two years ago and have key components left from that team. They have players who know how to win. And they have a strong defense, as good as anyone's in the chase. But they face Detroit and will have their hands full.
If the Bruins don't win this year do you see them being as good next year as they were ths year. There are a lot of contracts ending for the B's after this year
EJ Hradek (3:42 PM)
You are in the salary cap era, so contract expire and guys want raises, but I think they have a great chance to be a strong team for a while, and a lot of great young guys. Chara is a legit BNo. 1 defeseman, and Thomas is finding his way. But I think they are positioned to be a good team for a while now, despite the challenges management may face.
EJ Hradek (3:42 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions and enjoy these Game 7s. It does not get much better than this!