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)
EJ will be here soon, everyone!
Nathan (West Jefferson, North Carolina)
Huge Canes fan here. How good are our chances to take the series against the Bruins? We played real well Sunday night to steal home ice advantage.
EJ Hradek (3:03 PM)
From what I saw in Game 2, I think they have a good chance. It's a tough and competitive series, and the Bruins are very good, but Carolina's speed and pressure game bothers the Bruins. When you have a goalie like Cam Ward who is playing well in big games, I think they have an even shot to win.
Seems the press, especially in Washington, is already thinking the Pens/Caps series is over. Jumping the gun a bit, aren't they, especially after the Capitals excavated themeselves from an early deficit themselves?
EJ Hradek (3:05 PM)
I think that's the nature of fans and media when a series goes 2-0. I think if you look throughout the years, the odds of their winning at 2-0 dramatically increase. On the flipside, I agree---Pittsburgh could come back and win two games, which I think would give them an advantage emotionally and in terms of momentum. They would bring that rush right into the next day's game. But that's if they can win the next two games. They're getting chances and not finding a way to beat Ovechkin, which is the difference in the series.
Chris Kunitz's has to earn a suspension for his cross check to Varlamov's throat right? If you watch the replay it's pretty obviously intentional, and I can't think of any way to defend a hit to a guys throat like that.
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
Not to cop out, but I didn't get a good look at it. I don't get the sense from what I've heard that there is a real buzz about suspension.
red (detroit) [via mobile]
how many gomes you think the wings and the ducks go? who do you think wins?
EJ Hradek (3:08 PM)
I think the Red Wings will win in seven games. It's a great, great series...one that really features the league's best and most accomplished players. I'm really looking forward to Game 3 tonight in Anaheim.
seriously??? (gaping mouth, on)
Did sidney crosby really complain about people throwing hats on the ice after Ovechkin scored a hat trick? For some one who seems to think as much about having calm thought out answers this seems unbelievable. Is an old man who wants no fun in hockey? Warn the children of Pittsburgh to stay off his lawn.
EJ Hradek (3:11 PM)
I think they're really misinterpreted by fans, especially those fans who don't appreciate Sidney and aren't fans of his. After the game, he was asked about speaking to the referee after the hats were throw, and his point was, after several minutes, there were a couple of waves of hat-throwing. Crosby asked the official if they could make an announcement to stop throwing things so they could get back to playing the game. I just don't read it that way. It had been a long celebration, and the Penguins wanted to get back into the game. I think people tend to want to jump on every little thing Crosby does. I'm not on that bus.
Danny - Great Mills, Maryland
The NHL execs must have been smiling like no tomorrow when it was announced that the Caps and Pens would play each other. Just how much do you think they are smiling now after Game 2?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
I think they're smiling uncontrollably. They have a great game 2 where both of their top stars/faces of the league scored a hat trick in a one-goal game that went down to the wire. I think they're thrilled. It's a win-win situation for them. The fact that two high-profile stars are facing off is creating a buzz around the sports community.
jake (boston ma) [via mobile]
I think the bruins are the deepest team, they have the best goalie they roll four good lines and the leagues top defense is there any team as loaded as them right now?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I think there are a lot of teams up to their level right now. I think the Red Wings are better. They are extremely close in a lot of areas. You could probably make a case for any of the eight going on to win the Cup. The Bruins have a good team and have had a great year, and are locked in a tight series with Carolina in the second round. I think all eight teams have a lot going for them right now and will be tough to knock out of the playoffs.
Ryan (LA, CA)
Dear World, say hello to Ryan Getzlaf. EJ, where does Getzy fit amongst the league's best players now that the league is seeing what us Duck fans have been seeing for some time?
EJ Hradek (3:16 PM)
He's a top five or six player in the league. He's big, has great skill, is physical, and plays an excellent center. He's right near the very top of my list.
john south jersey [via mobile]
Its obvious the sharks will do some tinkering since they were wiped out early of the post season again. Question is, who do you think the sharks will be moving out?
EJ Hradek (3:19 PM)
I think that's a really tough question. It's hard to know what direction Wilson wants to go in. I think the players you're speaking about are ones like Marlowe and Thornton. Their contracts are going to expire in the short term. The only advice I would have is, if they're all going to move out one of these really high-end players, to have a plan to replace them. If you're going to pluck one of those guys out of the lineup, they might not end up making any big moves. I'll be curious to see what GM Doug Wilson decides to do when he returns from his club's minor league affiliate in Worcester, MA.
EJ Hradek (3:20 PM)
Clearly they'll have some tough and interesting choices to make int he coming weeks and months.
Will Malkin show up at some point in this series? Time is running out.
EJ Hradek (3:21 PM)
I thought Malkin was really good last night in a lot of ways. Unfortunately he took a bad tripping penalty that led to a goal, but he ran into a little bit of bad puck luck in the net, and they had some terrific saves on him. I thought he was more of a factor in Game 2 than in Game 1, and I don't think you can keep him down too long. He'll be a factor in Game 3.
Danny - Great Mills, Maryland
Anaheim looks really good right now and Detroit is the defending champions. Is this series a lose-lose for whomever has to play the winner in the next round? And possibly in the SC Finals?
EJ Hradek (3:22 PM)
Certainly when two teams as strong and with as much skill as the Ducks and Wings get together, they will take a lot out of another one. The winner will be weakened in the process. These teams are very experienced, however, and know what needs to be done, and if anybody can come through a tough playoff series, it's these two teams. They are professional and good at what they do.
Has the Caps success so far this post season fall solely on the shoulders of Varlamov? Do you think he will keep it up?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
We've seen good young goalies rise to the occasion in the past. Cam Ward, Patrick Roy, and Ken Dryden have all done it before. Varlamov was a first-round pick, and was expected to play at a pretty high level. It's up to the Penguins right now to poke holes in his game and shake his confidence. He could certainly take these guys a long way if he can play well.
Aaron (Harrisonburg Va) [via mobile]
Does Luongo have what it takes to shake off that bad night and be on top again?
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
He'd better! This is a guy whom a lot of people, including our good friend Barry Melrose, think is the best goalie in hockey, and you have to bounce back from a bad game to have that status. I just wonder if the Blackhawks have gotten into the Canucks' heads a bit. Luongo needs to return the favor and make it more difficult to score against him. He's no doubt a key component to the Canucks' Stanley Cup dreams.
Danny - Great Mills, Maryland
Do you think the Capitals need to take one of the next two games to win the series or do you think holding home ice will be enough?
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
If they can win their home games, it will be enough. Obviously they'd like to put Pittsburgh away as quickly as possible. But these games have been close, and I expect the Penguins will make some adjustments and look for the advantage on home ice. This series has a long way to go.
Marc (Malden, MA)
Seems like Carolina is the only team that has figured out if you put 2 men on the forecheck, you can cutoff the Bruins D to D, behind the net passing and really disrupt their breakout.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
Carolina likes to play aggressive. That's who they are...they want to use their speed to attack. That would unnerve anybody. If you can get that puck deep and take away time and space, that's a tried-and-true way to create offense and win hockey games. I think they got a break by playing a dinged-up team in the first round. But now they're against a Carolina team that is confident and experienced. The Bruins will have their hands full, and will have to move the puck quickly and make adjustments. I'm looking forward to seeing what they do differently in game 3.
EJ Hradek (3:31 PM)
Thanks for all the great questions, and we'll talk to you next week!