Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Wednesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the USA Men's Ice Hockey quarterfinal matchup against Switzerland.
Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.
Keep up with what Hradek has been up to through his blog on ESPN.com.
Send your questions now and join EJ to chat Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (2:22 PM)
EJ Hradek will be by at 2:30 p.m. ET to take your questions on Team USA's quarterfinal game against Switzerland!
Buzzmaster (2:34 PM)
Hang on folks. Looks like EJ is doing an ESPNEWS hit right now.
Buzzmaster (2:40 PM)
Sam (Lee, MA)
So far in my mind the US team has been a two-man show - Brian Rafalski and Ryan Miller. Who has to step up in the knockout rounds?
EJ Hradek (2:41 PM)
I disagree with that. I don't think it's a two-man show, but I will say that it hasn't been a 23-man show. Brian Burke said it the best the other day that they need all the guys toeing the rope. There has been a bunch of guys that have stepped up and others who have struggled. In a game like today against the Swiss which isn't a big physical game, if they can get off to a good start, that's a big part of this game.
Shaya (New York, NY)
Where would this USA team be without Ryan Miller? Can Miller carry this squad to a medal if their defense does not pick up the slack?
EJ Hradek (2:43 PM)
I think the defense has played pretty well. Against Canada, that's a monster group, and they gave up a lot of shots. Against the elite teams, that's what Ryan Miller is going to have to do, make those big stops. From this point, I think Miller's been amongst the one or two or three best goalies in this tournament. If they continue to provide enough offensive support for them, he could take them to the end.
Will Bartlett (Boston)
These games have been so exciting, with one exception. The Olympics needs to let the boys drop the mits. The intensity is incredible out there and it would be explosive if there were a couple good scraps. I know it's against the spirit of the Olympics, but...
EJ Hradek (2:44 PM)
I couldn't disagree with you more. I think that when teams are here playing with so much passion for their country and you tolerate fighting in that circumstance, you're really playing with fire. As it is, the games have been wildly exciting. I don't think any of these games, especially the good ones we've seen so far would have been any better if they had fights. As it is, guys compete whistle to whistle with hard play. In this environment, it's fine the way it is.
Shaya (New York, NY)
Considering the great play of Drury do you think he should see more ice time or do you think the diminished role on the squad bings the best out of Drury?
EJ Hradek (2:46 PM)
I think Chris Drury is being used perfectly. I think Chris has always been best suited as a guy who plays a particular role for good teams. I think Ron Wilson has been great about taking the temperature of the game and using Drury depending on where things are in the contest. When they were selecting the team, I was among those who questioned Drury's inclusion, but they've put him in a role that's perfect for him and it's really unfortunate that he's not in a similar situation in the NHL, where he could be in the third line type of role where he could really excell as a two-way guy.
Rob (Detroit, MI)
Do you the think the USA coaching staff is worried about how Switzerland will adjust their game plan having lost 3-1 to the Americans in the preliminary round?
EJ Hradek (2:48 PM)
I think that the American coaching staff is concerned about the game today, no question. Fans hear Switzerland and assume that's a walk over and that's not the case. They've been competitive in this tournament. They took Canada to a shootout. This is a team that's well coached. They know how to play their system. They provide a real test for Team USA today. A good start is really important. If the game remains scoreless or tied late in the game, the weight of expectations could be a problem.
M. Hedge (New York)
How much of a role will fatigue play in tonight's Canada - Russia game?
EJ Hradek (2:49 PM)
I don't think it will play that much of a role at all. The Canadians ended up having a walkover yesterday. The Germans were not very competitive. Canada got up early and was able to coast. It might be good for Canada to have the chance to get that Sunday game out of their system. They found some line combinations that work better for them now. I think both of these clubs will be revved up to play. This will be a terrific terrific game.
Sam (Lee, MA)
What are your odds on the US getting any medal, let alone the Gold?
EJ Hradek (2:50 PM)
I think they're great right now. They've come into a really good side of the draw. They could get to the gold medal game without having to play Canada, Sweden or Russia. If you said that before the tournament, you'd be surprised. They have an excellent chance for a medal and being ready for the next challenge.
eric (uxbride ,ma)
whats your prediction on the us-swiss game. i say 5-1 us.
EJ Hradek (2:51 PM)
I think it's important for the Americans to come out and have a good start. Push the Swiss on their heals a little bit. The other day, going into it, I had to pick the Americans. They're the favorite. But I don't see it as a blow out game. I see it as a real challenging game. Like the first one.
Matt (New York)
Assuming the US can get by the Swiss, do you think they match up better with the Czechs or the Fins in the Semis?
EJ Hradek (2:52 PM)
I think they would have an easier time against Finland, because they are an older team. They have a little more trouble scoring. They have to work harder to score goals. Giving the choice of the two, the Czechs have a little more offensive flair and thus harder to deal with.
EJ Hradek (2:53 PM)
Settle in. If you're lucky enough to have the opportunity, enjoy some great hockey games today.
Buzzmaster (2:53 PM)
EJ's been a busy man this afternoon and had to run to get ready for the US-Swiss game. Thanks to him for giving us some time before the game starts!