Chat with EJ Hradek
Welcome to SportsNation! On Tuesday, ESPN The Magazine's EJ Hradek will stop by to chat about the NHL season.
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 Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (3:00 PM)
We've got EJ!
Hey EJ,Tonight is the big game 7 with pohenix and detroit. Whoever wins faces my Sharks. Who do you think the Sharks would have a better chance against?
EJ Hradek (3:02 PM)
EJ Hradek (3:04 PM)
I just think that Detroit likes to play against San Jose. Even when they were short players this year, they found a way to beat San Jose. It's not to take anything away from the Coyotes, who have had a wonderful year, I think psychologically, they would have a better chance against Phoenix. Either team will be a challenge to play against, but I think the Red Wings would present more problems than Phoenix will.
Brian (Virginia Beach)
Who wins game 7 tonight Capitals or the hot Habs?
EJ Hradek (3:07 PM)
I still have to stay with Washington. They did get 54 shots on goal the other night. They will be on home ice. They've lost two games at home in this series, so it might not be that big of an advantage. They need to take the day-to-day with this group and try to catch their breath a little bit. Now is the time for calm and cool leadership. Bruce Boudreau, who's done outstanding with that team over the years, seems too on edge. That kind of stuff on the bench can impact the players in a negative way. I'm looking forward to it. It would be a monumental upset if Montreal can pull it off. In the Ovechkin era of playoff hockey, of their series that have gone seven games, they've won one and lost two.
Hi EJ, who do you like between the Hawks-Nucks in Rd. 2(rematch as well from last season in rd.2)?
EJ Hradek (3:09 PM)
That's going to be real interesting. These teams don't like each other. This has the makings of a real nasty series of two teams that have a burning desire to win the Cup this year. I didn't have a ton of hope for Vancouver going into the playoffs, but I think something might have clicked for them in the first round. I really think the key will be Luongo. Last year, Chicago was able to get underneath him and score a lot of goals late in the series. This year, Luongo's going to have to be the guy that was in Game 6 against L.A., coming up with timely saves. Right now, I feel like the Canucks might be playing a little bit better. I know it's going to be a lot of fun to watch and it will be an edgy playoff series.
EJ, 3 diving calls vs Montreal last night, how does that happen?
EJ Hradek (3:10 PM)
Guys dive and the refs call it....I saw those and I didn't really have a problem with it. There was a lot of embellishment going on and the refs were on top of it. There is a supervisor that watches each game of the series and it might have been a trend that they saw and they discussed it with the referees. I didn't have a problem with it. I do think that it sends a good message that the officials were watching for that.
Bruce Boudreau (DC)
Since my Caps have just one series victory in the last two seasons, is my job on the line tomorrow night?
EJ Hradek (3:13 PM)
Well Bruce, I would think not. But, I would say that a series loss of this magnitude that management would take a hard look at the reasons of what went wrong. Bruce has had a tremendous amount of success in Washington. His record speaks for himself. But with teams that have raised expectations, those teams are judged by how they perform in the playoffs.
Hey EJ,What do you think the realistic chances are of my Flyers picking up a young talented goalie like Price from Montreal? And what do you think we would have ti give up? Or is there another team that a trade would be more compatible with?
EJ Hradek (3:15 PM)
I think the market for goaltenders is a tough one to read. There will be several different goalies in the market with big game background. Price at his young age is a goaltender that is still valued very highly. But because the market dictates the value you get in return, they might want more than they can get. If I were the Flyers, I wouldn't be trading Claude Giroux any time soon. The market will be interesting this summer. We'll see a few trades and a couple of guys change places.
Does Halak's performance last night (which was eerily reminiscent of Roy's performance in '86, like in those "history will be made" commercials) mean that Montreal will definitely be trading Price after the season?
EJ Hradek (3:17 PM)
With every game Halak plays very well and he has that effort, you would tend to think that would be the way that they go. Montreal clearly has two talented goaltenders there. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that you'll have to trade one of them down the road. In the last 6-10 months of watching, I really like Halak. Price might be a guy that's more valuable to other teams. I'm sure they're constantly evaluating the situation. You do have to keep in mind that both of these guys will be restricted free agents. That's something that the Canadians will have to worry about. I think they'll try to keep Halak and shop Price.
Who would you rather have in net tonight - Bryzgalov or Howard?
EJ Hradek (3:23 PM)
Bryzgalov. He has a little more experience. He's a competitor, yet his nature is such that he won't rattle in these circumstances. I don't think he'll be overcome by the moment. Howard, I just don't know yet. He's had a great year. He exceeded my expectations this year. But you're talking about a game on the road in Game 7. I didn't like his performance in Game 6. Tonight, it's a great opportunity for all of the players in the game to have a chance to be a hero.
If the caps lose to the Habs, can any team beat the Pens in a 7 game series? If the caps win... can they even beat them the way they are playing?
EJ Hradek (3:25 PM)
The matchups change from series to series and injuries can always change things. I've like the Penguins as the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Caps have had success this year against the Penguins. I think they could give them a real battle. It's a different kind of game in the playoffs. I like Pittsburgh to win the East. But of the 16 playoff teams, I think it's closer now than it's been among those teams. If anybody slacks off in their play or has an injury, any time can win or lose.
King Henrik (NY)
Hey EJ, just was wondering if you think I should leave NY for a team that can actually score more than 2 goals a game? I could realistically rack up 40 to 45 wins.
EJ Hradek (3:26 PM)
I don't think it will be Henrik's decision. He's got a longterm contract in New York. He's the reason why they had a chance to even make the playoffs. He's a real good goalie and he would benefit from increased offensive support. I'm sure he would love a few more goals a game.
EJ Hradek (3:27 PM)
And he really likes New York. I think he really enjoys being there. He's focused on getting the Rangers back in the playoffs next year and getting the team to compete for the Cup.
With Savard coming back....who would the Bruins rather play? Philly or Pittsburgh??...I don't want any part of that Pittsburgh train that starts to get rolling and seemingly gets better each round the last 2 years.
EJ Hradek (3:28 PM)
The Bruins, I think, would want to play Philly. Philly played a terrific first round, but they're banged up. The Penguins are the defending champions and they're the champions for a reason. They create matchup problems. I think any team would want to play anyone but them.
Hey EJ, have you seen Alex Semin lately? Can't seem to find him on the ice.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
That's funny, everyone's beating up Alex Semin. He's not going to be confused with Jarome Iginla. But he has terrific offensive skills. He had seven shots on goal in Game 6 and were quality shots. The goaltender made some great stops on him. I don't know what else people expect from him. I guess when goal scorers don't score, they're judged on that. He's getting the shots off. As long as he keep shooting the puck, he's only one shot away from breaking out of that slump. He is what he is. He has terrific skill. I don't think he's been as bad as people think he's been.
EJ Hradek (3:30 PM)
We have two great Game 7s tonight and tomorrow. I'll talk to you in the second round.